Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Northern Ireland – 2: Coastal drive to the Giant’s Causeway

Northern Ireland – 2: Coastal drive to the Giant’s Causeway 

Overview: Visit to the UK is incomplete without visiting Northern Ireland. A country which has cultural links with both Republic of Ireland and the UK, is a tourist's delight.
We started our morning with a scenic drive from Belfast along the coast.
We stopped enroute at the 12th century Carrickfergus Castle.
Built by Norman explorer John de Courcy, it is one of the most well preserved structures from the medieval period.
 Antrim Coastal route Carrickfergus Castle Carrickfergus Castle Carrickfergus Castle Carrickfergus Castle Carrickfergus Castle
From Carrickfergus  Castle we proceeded further along the coastal route. We saw many pretty villages enroute, called 'Glens' or valleys of Antrim. These Glens are Glenarm, Carnlough, Cushendall, Cushendun, Ballycastle.
 Antrim Coastal route Antrim Coastal route Glens of Antrim Glens of Antrim Antrim Coastal route Antrim Coastal route Antrim Coastal route Glens of Antrim Antrim Coastal route Glens of Antrim Glens of Antrim Glens of Antrim Vanishing Lake, LoughareemaAntrim Coastal route Antrim Coastal route
Our next major attraction was Carieck-a-Rede rope bridge near Ballintoy. The bridge links the mainland to the island of Carrickarede. Though initially used by fishermen to reach the island, this bridge is now developed and is made a tourist attraction offering delightful views of the Rathlin Island and Scotland. This island is also known to be a volcanic plug where massive volcanic activity has taken place millions of years ago.
Sheep Island Towards Carieck-a-Rede   Carieck-a-Rede Carieck-a-Rede Carieck-a-Rede rope bridgeCarieck-a-Rede rope bridge Carieck-a-Rede
After a quick lunch at an Irish restaurant we went to Bushmills distillery to see the old Irish whiskey indusrty.
Near Bushmills we went to the ruins of pretty Dunluce Castle.
Bushmills Distillery Dunluce Castle
We then went to Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place is known for its hexagonal shaped rocks, formed due to volcanic activity around 50 million years ago.
There is a myth as well on this place where there was a 54 foot tall giant Finn McCool who built Giant's Causeway.
Around this area, there are several natural formations which look like Honeycomb, Harp or Camel's hump. I could compare this place to St Mary's Island in Malpe, Karnataka, India.
Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's CausewayGiant's Causeway IMGiant's CausewayG_2966 Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway 
References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland
How to reach: Belfast has direct road/rail links from the Republic of Ireland. From other parts of the UK, Belfast is connected through ferry links.
Food/Accommodation: Belfast caters to visitors from all communities and has all kinds of restaurants.