Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Back on the road...
We left Belfast on a (surprise!) grey, rainy day in mid July and drove along the coast for approximately 80 miles, beginning in Larne and ending in Cushendun. The coast is lined with rugged cliffs that are broken by nine deep green glacier-gouged valleys - the famous Glens of County Antrim.
Cushendun has a sheltered harbour that lies at the mouth of the River Dun and is in one of the nine Glens of Antrim (Glendun). It is a tiny town (population under 200) that was designed in the style of a Cornish village. Like Kearney in my previous post, most of the village is owned by the National Trust*. Cushendun's picturesque coastal setting in the heart of a recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, together with its architectural inheritance, and has been designated as a Conservation area since 1980.
1-2 By the River Dun in Cushendun
3 Houses at the river mouth
4-10 The rest of the village consisted of houses, shops and pubs that were all white with black trim. Very pretty
11 A small church behind the village
We left the coast and made our way inland through the emerald green countryside and the fabulous soft and misty Irish rain to the Dark Hedges...
A striking avenue of beech trees that was planted in the eighteenth century to become a landscape feature to impress visitors Two centuries later, the trees are a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. They have even been used as a filming location in HBO's epic series Game of Thrones®, representing the Kingsroad.
1-7 The Dark Hedges
8 Entrance to the field is free, the bull will charge later
9-10 Quintessential Irish countryside - a beautiful emerald green in the soft rain
The following day the sun broke through and the day began with a beautiful blue sky. We back-tracked a wee bit and drove through the beautiful rolling green country side to the Causeway Coast to visit the Dunluce Castle ruin.
Dunluce Castle was first built on a basalt outcropping of the dramatic coastal cliffs in County Antrim in about 1500. This now-ruined medieval castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. It is a photographers dream...
Dunluce Castle ruin, cliffs and coastal waters - it was a cold day but the sky was blue a lot of the time... and the setting was stunning...
We had an alfresco lunch at the nearby Bushmills Inn, then we went for a wee wander around Bushmills town which was all decked out in the colours of the Union Jack.
In the afternoon we drove through the coastal towns or (seaside resorts to the British) of Port Rush and Port Stewart. By the time we got to Port Rush the day had clouded over, it was incredibly busy with British ‘staycationers’ and as you passed amusement arcade after amusement arcade in the town it started to feel rather seedy - Port Stewart was just a smaller version of Port Rush and so we didn’t stay very long in either place.
On the outer edges of both these towns we passed many holiday parks (we even found one that shares a name with our little grand niece - Juniper). It amazed us that there were so many of these parks and also the size of them - they each appeared to take up acres of land with the caravan type buildings all in rows and only about a metre separating them. Pictures below give a bit of an idea. It was such a marked contrast after the remoteness of the rest of the coast.
1-2 Bushmills Inn
3-6 Bushmills towns - showing the country town and the flags
7 Alan outside a closed Barry's Entertainment complex
8-9 Scene of The Strand at Port Stewart, and the mainstreet showing how busy it was
10-11 Juniper Hill holiday park - which has 426 fully serviced static sites, 80 touring pitches and 5 sheltered sites for tents with most sites having some sort of view of the ocean.