After several hours of driving the scenic Causeway Coastal Route, we arrived in Portrush which served as our base for exploring sites along the Antrim Coast. Portrush is a resort town with B&Bs, eateries, and family-oriented amusements. We stayed at Beulah Guest House, a quaint B&B, centrally located on Causeway Street. The next morning we started our day at Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site in Bushmills.
Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 basalt columns formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. It is a five mile stretch of coastline with large hexagonal pillars of various heights along the shore. Admission to the Visitor Center is £9 and includes parking and an audio guide. However, there is no cost to visit the causeway and the trails.
Mark and I climbed the pillars studying and admiring the various shapes and sizes. It was a noticeably sunny day that highlighted how clear and blue the sky and ocean were. We walked along the coast watching and listening to the aggressive waves crash against the columns. The darker pillars along the beach indicate where the waves reach the shore. I naively stood too close while taking photos and was hit by a wave.
A trail led up the hillside and we followed it toward the chimney stacks. Much of this trail was closed due to falling rocks, so we turned back to find another path. We climbed the Shepherd’s Steps to the top and basked in the view below and in the distance. The ocean extended far beyond what we could see. We hiked the cliff-top trail down back to where we started. In the Visitor Center we purchased a light and healthy lunch and departed for our next destination.
White Park Bay
White Park Bay is a secluded, sandy white beach. There is a free parking lot off of Whitepark Road with several spaces. We entered through a fence and followed the worn path down to the beach. We found a spot on a large rock and enjoyed our lunch. There were other people playing fetch with their dog, eating or relaxing; just enjoying an afternoon at the beach. It was a great place to listen to the ocean and re-energize for the next site.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was built by salmon fisherman over 350 years ago and is suspended 100 ft above sea level. The bridge is 65 ft long, stretching from the mainland to “Rocky Island.” Admission is £5.90. Parking is limited and I would recommend to arrive early. It is a one mile walk from the parking lot to the rope bridge but there is much to appreciate along the way.
Instead of going to Dunluce Castle we decided to visit the Cushendun Caves. We didn’t have a data plan and our mobile Wifi hotspot was spotty at best, so we drove to Cushedun in search of the caves. The town isn’t very big and much of the coast is beach. We stopped at an apartment complex lot and at the end was the Fisherman’s Cottage. I spoke with a woman loading a car and she said the caves were around the corner to the right. I understood it as literally around the corner though Mark convinced me she meant out the complex and down the street around the corner. We drove for several miles then turned around and went back to the complex. We drove down a private street only to discover the caves were around the corner.
Cushendun Caves isn’t a notable attraction for many travel sites and blogs. Mark and I are Game of Thrones fans and visiting film locations is exciting to us. The scene when Melisandre gives birth to the Smoke Assassin in season 2 was filmed at the Cushendun Caves.
When we returned back to the B&B, we ended the evening by eating bourbon cookies and watching Eurovision on TV. Northern Ireland has a beautiful coast with memorable features and landscapes. It was an enjoyable trip and we are fortunate to have embarked on the journey.