We traveled up from Belfast on a Sunday morning following the signs for the A2 and Ballymena. It was motorway for the majority of the 90 minute drive and then the Giants Causeway was well posted after Ballymena. There is a coast road you can follow from Belfast but we had a lot of driving ahead of us that day so we took the shorter inland route.
Our first stop was the Giants Causeway- a world heritage site. On arrival at the car park we were directed where to park and given a leaflet on the prices and some information on the causeway. There is a national trust yearly membership that you can join that gives you free access into all the national trust sites in Northern Ireland. This may be better value for families taking in a few sites each year. Adult prices were £8.50 per person and you received a little guide book with this also. There was an audio guide available just outside the door of the main building on your way down to the causeway which was free of charge also.
It is a bit of a trek down to the causeway from the visitor centre but there is a little shuttle bus that runs up and down the path to the causeway itself. We were feeling fit on this particular occasion and we headed down the path for a ten minute walk to our destination. If you are a lover of photography like I am then there are so many photo opportunities along the way. We arrived down to the rocks with excited anticipation to get ourselves out onto the basalt slabs and feel the north atlantic wind in our hair! We weren’t disappointed. You have to have a really really good imagination but you could almost imagine the giant bounding over the water from Scotland to fight Fionn MacCool!
After a small stroll around the cliffs and a lot of selfies we headed back up to the visitor centre to have a look around the gift shop. They had some lovely local souvenirs for sale here as well as plenty of prints, pictures, t-shirts and all the other paraphernalia you would expect to find. After spending way too much money on souvenirs we went to the lovely tea rooms they have there also and grabbed a take away cup of tea and the biggest slice of lemon cake I have ever seen in my life! Definitely one to stop at before you head out.
It was back into the car then for the short 10 minute drive over to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The drive over along the cliffs is magnificent and there are plenty of places to pull over to get out and take some snaps. Ballinatoy church is in a beautiful setting along the cliffs and a must have photo. The road down to the car park is quite twisty and bendy but we were greeted again by a man who told us where to park. We walked over to a small hut where there was a lovely man taking payment and giving out a lot of compliments also! The adults price was £5.90 per person.
The walk over to the bridge takes about 15 minutes and again there are lots of photo opportunities along the way. On arrival at the bridge there was a queue of very wary looking tourists daring each other to cross the bridge. The both of us looked at each other and decided we would brave it. I was sure Ali would chicken out as she’s not good with water or heights but fair play to her she stayed behind me up until we got to the start of the bridge- (there’s a really steep set of steel stairs that leads you down to the start of the bridge just in case you weren’t nervous enough!) and then we both starting walking over together. The bridge looks quite sturdy but once you get into the middle of it the wind hits you. I lost my grab on the rope at the side at the exact same time Ali did and all I got was WALK FASTER!
It was hard enough to explore the head land we had walked onto as the queue had started again to go back across the bridge. I think most people are just focused on getting back over anyway but you do get a lovely view of the fishermans cottage and Rathlin Island. Heading back over the bridge was just as exciting as the way over. Try not to get stuck behind any slow coaches though!
We headed back along our cliff walk but again there are other lovely cliff walks from Carrick-rede- bridge. Don’t forget to get your certificate to prove you crossed the bridge from the man in the hut on the way back out- they are only £1 and something nice to have. We had a quick look into the tea rooms beside the car park which also had a little gift shop attached before heading back to the car. It was back over the coast road then for our last stop of the day- Dunluce Castle.
It was a short ten minute drive back the way we had come (past the giants causeway) to reach Dunluce Castle. Unfortunately we arrived just as it was closing but the views from the road and field in front of it were just spectacular. Its £5 entrance into the castle for adults and there are the ruins of little town set around it. The castle itself is perched precariously close to the cliffs and part of the castle structure has succumbed to the sea already. You can take a little path from the side of the castle to the beach at the other side with out actually going into the castle where the views are absolutely amazing.
We took our leave of the beautiful Antrim coast after our visit to Dunluce castle. Portrush was just a few kilometres away for a bite to eat but we knew we had a long trip back to Tipperary ahead of us (in this case it was a very long way to Tipperary) .
There is plenty of accommodation along the coast, we passed many camping sites and there is the beautiful Causeway hotel also that really couldn’t get you closer.
Top tips for this trip is to wear good footwear! There is a good bit of walking involved. Also pack a waterproof jacket as we got caught out on the way back from Carrick-a-Rede bridge and got drenched!
I have attached some of the sites for the attractions we visited and directions from Dublin. This trip is definitely doable in a day but I will definitely be back again to stay a few nights! Watch out for next weeks blog for a trip down South! Happy Galavanting xxx