Leaving Glenarm Marina after a free night close to the water (water tap here) we followed along the Antrim coast and it’s Glens which are designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty to the small village of Cushendun, Co Antrim, we are amazed by the beauty of Northern Irelands coast, this island is quite literally living up to its name as the Emerald green land contrasts with the blue grey coastal waters and rocky outcrops. We parked up in a National Trust Car Park, which is free, erm that wouldn’t happen back at home for us we’d have our pockets at least £3-4 lighter, we decide to try out our new wellies bought especially for this trip, we’re not expecting any rain though! well maybe a little, walking along the deserted beach outside the small village the sun warming our backs and the views warming our hearts, stopping to sit on the rocks and realising once again how much we love this travelling life.
Back at Pogo we set course to follow the causeway coastal route, passing through Loughareema also known as the vanishing lake because although two rivers flow into it and it fills up the water disappears through fissures in the limestone basin, there was no water in it when we passed by and we are again gobsmacked by the beauty of the east side of Northern Ireland amazed that such a spotlessly clean, naturally beautiful and serene place could have such a history of famine, war and strife.
Pulling in at Portaneevy Car Park and picnic spot for views over Carrick A Rede rope bridge and Rathlin Island home to Atlantic puffins, Dave got the bikes off the bike rack and pumped the tyres up, adjusted the seat heights, I tried mine out, it’s been many years maybe 20 since I rode one! A small wobble and I was off circling the car park, confirming that yes one never forgets how to ride a bike!
This area is also known for its filming of Game of Thrones, GOT to its many fans which includes us, it is the TV adaptation of George R.R. Martins’ book series of fantasy novels, coach after coach arrived with day trippers of all nationalities but mostly American spilling out for a look see over the coast and to read the placards about the film series.
We were going to cycle down to the Carrick a Rede rope bridge but on consulting the map it looked far too steep to come back up for our first cycle ride so we drove down to the National Trust Weighbridge Tea Rooms and car park. It was 5pm and all the tickets for the day were sold out and at £8 each we were not too fazed so we took a nice but steep walk down to the bridge, being blown by the strong gusty winds, the views were sublime and it was enough to see the bridge we didn’t need to walk across it. The rope bridge links to a small island and the first rope bridges were erected by salmon fisherman in 1755, thankfully this one looked a little newer than that! The area is home to basking sharks, dolphins and porpoises, sadly we were not rewarded with such a treat.
We were even more impressed when the National Trust car park attendant told us we could stay for free in the designated MH car park 100 metres away, we strolled down to it and we were amazed to see the designated parking area was overlooking the cliffs which had been used for a scene in GOT as we recognised the set up and the episode that was filmed there however we decided to move further up the coast to Ballintoy harbour, between Ballycastle and White Park bay part of the Ulster Way Coastal Pathway, we descend the steep narrow road into the tiny harbour and we’re blown away by the natural beauty of this place, the black basalt rocks mingling with the white limestone, Ballintoy area is said to attract some of Irelands most ferocious waves and we were lucky to see some of them the next morning.
Parking Pogo up for the night we sat and watched and listened to the tide and waters rushing over the rocks just a few feet in front of us, lights turned out to appreciate the monochrome view until we could see no more.
3 miles walked today.
GPS Glenarm Marina (free) N54.96880,W005.95306
GPS Cushendun NT Car Park & Beach (free) N55.12801,W006.04338
GPS Portnaveevy Car Park (free) N55.23379,W006.32855
GPS Carrick A Rede NT Car Park (free) N55.24111,W006.35094
GPS Ballintoy Harbour (free) N55.24370,W006.36969