CARRICK-A-REDE E THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAYFeb 17th, 2011 | By Paola Belon | Category: Carrick-a-Rede and The Giant´s Causeway, NORTHERN IRELAND
During our trip to Northern Ireland, we took an organized tour to make a day for the north coast of the country.
The sites visited were Carrick-a-Rede and The Giant’s Causeway. These places are those kind of destinations that illustrate some travel magazine and you are amazed with such a landscape, but never imagine that one you will visit it personally. The feeling I had to when I got to these places was a mixture of fascination with the landscape with the felling of not believing I was really there.
The trip was made in April and at that time is still very cold in that country, especially in the northern coastal region due to its geographical position. Yet we faced the journey without any fear of the cold we would feel. Our excitement was greater than the cold weather.
In Belfast there are several companies that offer this kind of tour, which is very similar in all of them (including Carrick-a-Rede, The Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Carrickfergus Castle and The Bushmills Distilery). The price is around 25 pounds and some of them allow the purchase over the Internet. Some of the companies that offer the tour are: McComb´s Travel & Tours, Allen´s Tours e Paddywagon Tours.
We started the journey around 9 am and the first stop was the village of Carnlough, a small fishing village of around 1500 inhabitants located in County Antrim. The village is cute and some of the people joining us in the tour went for a quick coffee. I personally preferred to enjoy the scenery and get to some pictures.
Back in the minibus, our next stop would be Carrick-a-Rede, a large suspension bridge that unites the Irish territory to Carrick Island, a small island where once many fishermen went to fish salmon. To reach the bridge you have to go through a walking trail, but it´s not one of hard difficulty level and I can guarantee it’s worth the walk.
Formerly the bridge consisted of a suspended bridge with just one rope as handrail and wide boards. Today, that bridge was replaced by one of two handrail ropes that gives more security to people crossing it. However, despite these improvements, I can assure even the most courageous, crossing the bridge gives you a tingly inside. It is 24 meters high, and despite being basically a suspended bridge made of rope and wooden planks, its stability is good, but when it’s windy or when there are several people crossing the bridge at the same time, the swing of the bridge makes the crossing a little more thriling :-). If you want to croos it you´ll have to pay around 4 pounds.
When we went it was very cold, and the wind almost froze us, but only the fact of having that scenery in front of our eyes was enough for us to forget the low temperature. Well worth a visit! Across the bridge, the view you have is beautiful. There is not a monument or something specific to visit in Carrick Island. Its attraction is the region’s natural beauty and of course the bridge.
After spending some time there, we returned to the minibus, toward our next destination: The Giant’s Causeway! The site is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is an interconnected set of rock formations, the result of volcanic eruptions in the region millions of years ago. The rocks are shaped like hexagonal columns with different sizes (the highest ones have around 12 meters high) and the impression that you have when looking at it is that you are looking to a hive of bees. The formations extend along the beach until they disappear into the sea. It’s spectacular!
The Giant’s Causeway is called this way because of a legend. It was said that Finn McCool, a Irish giant, was one day teased by a Scottish giant called Fingal who was the other side of the North Channel. Finn, angry, started throwing stone blocks to build a bridge linking theScottish and Irish territories to the, allowing that way the Scottish giant to personally challenge the other one to a duel. However, at the time Finn finished building the bridge, he had not slept at all and could not face a fight with the other giant, so his wife wrapped him in bed sheets as if he was a baby. The Scottish giant, arriving in Irish land, was deceived by Finn´s wife who told him that her husband had gone to work that was just her and the baby at home. The Scottish giant, seeing the baby’s size, was afraid to imagine the father and ran back to his territory in order not to face the fight. Running on the stone walkway some of the collumns sunk because of his weight and that is why today they have irregular heights. Do you like the legend? I prefer to stick with the scientific explanation, but since this is one of the national legends of Ireland, found it interesting to let you know.
With or legend the legend, what I can guarantee is that the place is wonderful. It´s something very different from others you can see when travelling. If you go there, be sure to climb the mountain that is on the beach to have a different view of the famous columns.
After being amazed by the landscapes of Northern Ireland, we moved on, now heading to Bushmills Distillery, one of the most famous whiskey distilleries in the country. There, we visited the factory where they explained the process of drafting the Irish national drink and in the end, they offeref a tasting session for some candidates. I am not a big fan of whiskey, but because of a prank of my friends who were with me, I got selected as one of “voluntaries” for tasting of different types of whiskey. As tourist life is not always easy, I participated of the tasters group, even not linking the drink, but here´s the tip, if you like whiskey, it is worthwhile to participate in the tasting!
After passing through Bushmills Destilery, we began our return to Belfast, and by the way we passed by Dunluce Castle, a ruined castle perched on a mountain. But we didn´t stop for photos, so we couldn´t enter the castle.
Continuing our return to Belfast where we’d grab a bus for Dublin, our starting point in the Irelands trip and from where departed our return flight. The feeling for the rest of the trip was having the soul fullfilled by so much beauty and views, and the prevailing thought was that the world is too big and that there are an unimaginable amount of interesting places to be known. Northern Ireland was only one of them … I hope to meet many more!
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