Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (9/6/2012)

Yesterday we went to two of GB’s National Trust sites in NI. The first was the Giant’s Causeway just about a mile down the road from where we are staying. There is a beautiful new visitor’s center there complete with historical exhibits. Once you walk through you are in a different space and time.

In the UK, you are left to use your common sense. If they rope off an area they are dead serious about not wanting you on it. Otherwise, they post signs that say “High Winds” and  “High Surf” and say have at it. As we walked up to the Causeway the entire Coastline changed. It was nothing like we had seen before and pictures do not do it justice. 

Map to the Causeway

We climbed the rocks – Steve ventured onto the higher rocks as I did not trust my balance in the wind. It was amazing. And it is huge. Interestingly as we walked around past the main Causeway, there was almost no wind as the Causeway itself protects the cove just beyond it. I sat on the rocks and videoed for a few minutes so I could take home the sound of the wind and waves crashing. The smells were stronger than at the beaches we go to. Sure there is the strong salt air spray but there is mixed in a marshy smell since the coastal vegetation is so different. It is a magical place.

Loved the sound of the water!
Even at the Causeway the flowers grow wild!
Actually called the organ since it looks like organ pipes!
Middle Causeway
Of course the Irish, like the Scots, believe there is magic in everything!

We then drove toward Ballintoy, passing the ruins of Dunseverick Castle ( not much left there) and White Park Bay – a beautiful inlet with a long stretch of white sand beach. We next stopped at Carrick-A-Rede (literally “rock in the road”) Rope Bridge. This bridge is also a National Trust site. You hiked about a KM to the bridge itself and I mean hiking in the literal sense! You are looking out toward Scotland and there are all these coastal barrier islands with the waves kicking up on them. The bridge was originally put in place by salmon fishermen to help them get their haul over to the mainland. Their version of the bridge had widely spaced slats and only one rope handrail! The version in use today has two rails and is netted on the bottom and sides for safety but it swings like crazy. It also appears it is seldom closed. It was exciting and I am glad I did it but that one is definitely off my bucket list! There is one small house on the island that was used by the fishermen back in the day. That had to be a treacherous way to make a living.

This is the “safe” version. Original bridge had only one rail and no netting on sides or bottom! Yes we crossed!
National Trust sign
Steve on Carrick-A-Rede Island (and of course so was I)!

We returned by way of Ballintoy and stopped at the Red Door Cottage Tearoom for a late lunch. It was great and Joann the proprietor was so nice and helpful. We then drove on down to Ballintoy Harbor. It is a very small protected harbor. They were setting up there for a film shoot today and were launching an old wooden boat with long oars into those rough seas.

Inside the Tea Room. Loved it!

Ballintoy Harbor
Ballintoy Beach

We also passed the local Church of Ireland. The graveyard and its headstones looked like something out of “Dark Shadows” especially with the heavy skies in the background.

Still Choosing Joy