I’ve always been of the opinion that one of the best ways to get to see a place is to take a road trip. So one morning, unsure of what to do for the day my sister and I decided to take a drive and opted to take the coastal route. Leaving Belfast behind we headed North East along the A2 and up through Carrickfergus where we drove past their stunning mediaeval castle. Built in the twelfth century, Carrickfergus Castle is one of the best examples of mediaeval architecture in Northern Ireland and dominates the small town of Carrickfergus. Built in 1177 by Hugh de Courcy, this castle has seen a lot of history!
Having already been to explore this site on a previous trip we decided to have a mini pit stop only and from Carrickfergus we continued on Northwards along the A2 coastal path which took us through many a town with some gorgeous views of the ocean along side us. We passed through Carnfunnock Country Park, Ballygalley, Glenarm (where we decided to have a stop and look at the castle but found we could not take dogs inside so quickly pressed on), Carnlough, Glenariff, Waterfoot, Cushendall, up through the forest to Balyvoy, Ballycastle and from here took Whitepark Road.
We saw signs for White Park Bay and decided to park up next to the youth hostel and take a look around. I wasn’t expecting the views we were met with! The bay consists of a spectacular white sandy beach which emerges from sand dunes and sweeping green cliffs which sang with birdsong and were rich in wildlife. We followed the steep path down, pausing every few minutes to take in the beauty and passing a solitary couple on their way back up. Once we reached the dunes it was time to remove the flip flops and sink our toes into the gloriously warm sand and feel the soft white grains flow over them. When we eventually pressed on over the dunes we stumbled onto the beach and were met with a small herd of cows who were sat basking in the sun. Besides from the cows for company, we were completely on our own. Utter perfection. The beach was secluded and quiet even on this warm and sunny day when other beaches of the same ilk would normally have been ripe for sunbathers. It was a pleasant surprise and we relaxed here for a while, enjoying the clear blue sky and letting the warm sun rays wash over us, wishing we have brought along a picnic.
Beach jaunt over, it was back in the car and onto the Causeway Road which we followed until we arrived at Giants Causeway. Declared a world heritage site in 1986 and a national nature reserve, these world famous basalt columns which were created by an ancient volcanic eruption are a natural wonder. They truly are a must see. Even swarmed with other tourists, you are able to see how magnificent a site the giants causeway is. If I do get the chance to go back I think I would try to be there first thing in the morning or as late as possible into the afternoon to try and catch them as quiet as possible to be able to make the most of nature at its best.
After being awed by the beauty of nature for the second time that day we decided to continue on through Bushmills where we feasted on some lovely local fish and chips before heading off West to Dunluce Castle. There is so much to see along the coastline of County Antrim and we were spoiled for choice but I like a good castle so Dunluce had to be our next stop. Perched on the top of a cliff, overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean, this castle had a view!
A little further up the road from Dunluce Castle is White Rocks Beach and we decided to take a quick peak before returning back to Belfast for the night. It was late in the afternoon before we got here so we didn’t stay long, just long enough to have a walk along the soft golden sands and to dip our feet in the fresh sea waters. Get my dose of sun, sea and sand before it was back to city life.
What a day! If you are ever in Northern Ireland and mmming and ahhing about what to do then please get in the car and take a drive, there is so much to see in this stunning country and a day can cover a lot of ground.