Breakfast at the Jury’s Inn was plentiful and soon afterwards we were collected from the hotel lobby by Allen’s Tours with whom we had booked a full day excursion along the north coast. As it was January there were only 18 booked on the tour so our driver/guide Ian suggested we all sit on the right hand side of the coach for the best views.
Our first stop was Glenarm, apparently famous for its haunted castle. A few miles further on we made a 30 minute stop at Carnlough which had a picturesque harbour. The coach tour continued along the coast, pausing briefly for photos at Cushendall to view its 17th century curfew house and then we made a longer stop in Cushenden with its Cornish style cottages and pretty harbour. We noticed that cattle in this part of Northern Ireland have a distinctive white stripe on their backs, something I haven’t noticed elsewhere.
Our journey took us through Ballycastle before arriving at the National Trust owned Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. We spent an hour there, following the path from the car park down to the rope bridge. The bridge is open all year, closing only in strong winds, it spans 20 metres and hangs 30 metres above the rocks below. It’s a popular tourist attraction with often lengthy queues waiting to cross.
Setting off again we passed through the village of Ballintoy before arriving at the National Trust owned Giant’s Causeway. Here, we were given two hours to explore this geological phenomenon of basalt columns which are estimated to be 65 million years old. We climbed the Shepherd’s steps and found time for a walk along the cliff top trail with its spectacular views of the causeway coast.
It was extremely windy along this exposed stretch of the wild North Atlantic coast and gladly we just found time for a mug of coffee in the Visitor Centre’s cafe before the coach departed.
Our final stop of the day was at the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery where we had the opportunity to drink small samples in its famous tasting room. As neither of us like whiskey we didn’t take up the offer but did have a pot of tea in their cafe before returning to Belfast.
Although we prefer to travel independently it would have been impossible to have seen so much in one day without a car, so it was a worthwhile trip and one I would recommend.
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