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North - Day 2 - Antrim Coast


After breakfast at the guesthouse, we headed out (again in the brilliant sun … ah, what a tease that sun is) to see what the tour buses take people to see in that part of the world. In fact, we kept running into the same girl from Edmonton at the sites. As she was alone, she had us take several pictures for her.

Our first stop was Carrick-A-Rede Bridge.  The 1 km walk to the bridge was lovely, but during the long queue to actually go across the bridge, the rain started. (We didn’t know about the rain’s ambitious and regular schedule yet; this is where we learned it. David used his fancy new watch to time the periods between showers) It rained just until we crossed, not when we did, and only once when we were on the beautiful but steep, slippery, and wind- beaten island on the other side. The kids were quite brave on the bridge; only Sheila felt a little shaky on the first crossing. Our walk back was blessed; the TRUE downpour of the morning happened as we were reaching the parking lot. Lesson learned: the car is NOT a close enough place for your umbrella, even if the sun is shining when you get out of the car.

Next stop is the Giant’s Causeway, and, quite frankly, our true destination. Triumph learned about the Giant, Finn MacCool, at school this past year, and this site was the highlight of my trip to Ulster in 1981 too. Umbrellas firmly clasped, there was nothing but sun. It was actually quite lovely!  The kids did their best to walk to Scotland and climb as high as MacCool’s head.

On the way to our next stop, we past a small but gorgeously situated castle ruin, Dunseverick, that wasn’t on our plan but was worthy of a stop and several photos. That whole area is a landscape photographer’s dream!

We then headed into Bushmills for lunch. While John, David and Athena toured the oldest whiskey distillery in the world, Kristine, Sheila and Triumph continued on Sheila’s fruitless hunt for Irish hand towels. Who’d have figured that would be would be so hard to find in Ireland?

Although we thought we were too late to tour it, we then drove on to at least look at the outside of Dunluce Castle.  Thankfully, the guide book was wrong, and we managed to get a half hour there before they closed. Again our timing worked out such that the showers were very slight during our time there, and the afternoon light off the cliffs was amazing. This was the second posh-est of the castles we’ve seen thus far (our count sits at 4), but the other had a roof! The kids were quite taken by the fact that the kitchen, full of servants, just fell into the sea one day. It does make you step lightly, I must say. David managed to find out other interesting details about its current owner from the staff member on the site.

Hungry and tired, we headed up to Portrush, which is where all the people from the tour busses are staying. What a tourist town that is! The streets were buzzing, and restaurants and parking lots were stuffed. We found some space in a beach-front cafe and the kids enjoyed a little time on the playground before we headed back to Ballycastle to sleep soundly.