To Malin Head from Ballyliffen
Filled up on a handy Instant Porridge Pot for breakfast (with plenty sugar, Philistine that I am) then visited nearby Pollan beach in a fresh breeze and under blue skies. A part pebbly , wild beach which looked great for a bracing walk.
It was a fine, easy and quiet 25km drive out to Malin Head. Malin features on our Shipping Forecast, which my husband listens to twice a day at least – just for the repetition of the places as much as finding out what the weather is doing. Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle….. there is something mesmerising and timeless about the names rolling across the airwaves.I find it soothing too though I don’t like the huge ‘ 24 hour weather window’ which applies to the forecasts, given we can have 4 seasons in one morning.
Parked easily at the Malin Head Visitor Centre (closed) and walked out to Hell’s Hole and a bit beyond that, a fantastic easy walk in rugged coastal scenery with really stunning views south to Fanad Head and also north towards Scotland.
Driving to the Antrim Coast
I now had the rest of the day in hand so decided to head for the Antrim coast via the handy Greencastle Ferry, to see the Giant’s Causeway and walk over the famous Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge.If time allowed, tomorrow I would visit the Dark Hedges of Game of Thrones fame then make my way gradually back to City of Derry airport.
My two adult sons are golf nuts so I was keen to get a look at the famous Portrush Golf Course which looked great during The Open coverage. Of all the phone photos I bored them with , a course photo would grab their attention as nothing else would! (as well as one or two of GoT locations.Chris and the boys were avid fans; I dipped in and out but thought the last series was excellent.)
It’s a fine piece of land for a course but it IS surrounded by a gi-normous caravan park and the resort next door, Port Stewart is horrendously over-developed and quite tacky.Not attractive at all. Still, the coast makes up for it.
To go or not to go over Carrick a Rede?
It was a gorgeous afternoon now, brilliant sunshine and quite warm so it was a perfect day for Carrick -a – Rede. I’d booked a 3.30pm time slot in advance and was thankful that I’d got the timings right as I drove into the crowded car park with 30 mins to spare.The area was over-run with visitors( like myself!) but it was all very organised.I heard people being told they’d have to wait a couple of hours before they could cross or who decided not to cross at all, because the time slots had long been sold out.
The walk to the bridge was a beauty – very, very busy but nothing could detract from the white cliffs (similar to those of Dover fame though not quite so high) and turquoise seas. I’d visited this coast about 20 years ago but must have missed this section! I don’t remember the rope bridge being an attraction then as such.Very dramatic, impressive area.
Although I do a lot of hillwalking at home, I do suffer from vertigo a bit and don’t enjoy edges and ledges; so – I was slightly worried about how I’d feel when faced with the bridge. It was a bit heart in the mouth going across (wobbly and with alarmingly large holes in the netting near my feet!) but perfectly safe and really quite an experience.
Ate my sandwiches sitting on a rock on the wee island, access to which was so vital to the salmon fishermen of old. Beautiful spot.
Pretty Ballintoy Harbour (GoT location)
Tea and cake were now required, as ever. Managed to get parked at busy little Ballintoy Harbour, a very pretty spot and another Game of Thrones location.It was absolutely jumpin’ , as they say, but still worth seeing. Excellent Apple Crumble and cream from the café and a nice seat overlooking the bobbing boats.
The Giant’s Causeway disappoints – again
I’d visited the Giant’s Causeway (free entry) in the 1990s before the enormous Visitor Centre was built and had been, I have to admit, underwhelmed. It was nearly 6pm now so I thought it might be quieter and worth another look, thinking I might have been too harsh. Unfortunately, it hit me in the same way after the hike down the path. The beautiful hexagonal black rocks were swarming with visitors (of course, me included).
It was tourist central and all the worse for that – in fact this whole coast is phenomenally busy, more so than anywhere I saw in Donegal. Much more life affirming and impressive, to me , are the same rock formations on a much grander scale on the tiny island of Staffa, off the Isle of Mull. Much more effort to get there of course but an incomparable experience (plus puffins in season.)
Dunluce Castle looked terrific perched on its crag but energy levels were now flagging and I was keen to get into Sheep Island View Hostel, Ballintoy. Great location just off the main road and a nice clean comfy room to myself. Chicken curry for dinner, and gallons of tea.