Thursday, 4 May 2017

Northern Ireland: Causeway Coastal Route

A 3-day weekend was just right for the Causeway Coastal Road Trip. Most attractions were simply convenient stops linked to form a smooth route for the important Giant's Causeway. Two days out of three were surprisingly sunny while the other was cloudy with light rain. However, the wind was outrageous anytime anywhere.

DAY 1 - Carrickfergus Castle + Gleno Waterfall + Glenariff Forest Waterfalls + Caves of Cushendun + Torr Head + The Dark Hedges + Giant's Causeway

Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle which houses historical displays as well as cannons from the 17th to the 19th centuries. An hour would be sufficient for a self-guided tour for a small castle like this. Unlike the waterfall in Gleno, a bit of walking, but not any sort of strenuous hike, is required to reach those waterfalls in Glenariff Forest. After a brief stop at Caves of Cushendun and Torr Head, respectively, the spectacular Dark Hedges might be the only destination of the day which could slow down one's way up to the Causeway, as this tunnel-like avenue of intertwined beech trees is truly photogenic. Giant's Causeway is probably the reason why tourists would take a flight to Northern Ireland. Blue trail leads directly to the world-famous stones. Booking a hotel just nearby for sightseeing next morning instead is highly recommended, as some might not be able to make it to the stones well before sunset.

DAY 2 - Dunluce Castle + Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House + Mussenden Temple + Gortmore + Binevenagh + Londonderry

Dunluce Castle situated on the edge of a rocky outcrop on headland overlooks the North Channel. The medieval castle is now in a totally ruined state but still has partial remains of its round corner towers and outer wall. There is no lack of nice views all around. Paying to enter is not necessary, especially for those who have already seen a considerable number of ruined castles within the UK. Visit to Downhill Demene and Hezlett House together with Mussenden Temple should take at least two hours, since the entire property stretches across a vast land. Either of the next two viewpoints makes a perfect lunch stop. Picnic facilities are available but eating in the car is a better option, unless savouring in the strong wind is not an issue for you. The city of Londonderry is rather dull particularly on a Sunday. Derry City Walls and The Guildhall are relatively interesting.  

DAY 3 - Belfast + Titanic Experience

Back in Belfast it does not take long to tour around the very center. Belfast City Hall is the focal point. Victoria Square is Northern Ireland’s biggest and brightest shopping centre. Its dazzling glass dome is also a viewing gallery where you can look across the Belfast skyline. With a Metro Day Ticket priced at around £3.5, which is also valid for Bus 600 to City Airport, Belfast Castle and Crumlin Road Gaol Visitor Attraction and Conference Centre are only a short ride away, but Titanic Experience is what's not to be missed. Titanic Belfast extends over nine interactive galleries, with multiple dimensions to the exhibition, drawing together special effects, dark rides, full-scale reconstructions and innovative interactive features. The experience is completed with a visit to the world’s last remaining White Star vessel and RMS Titanic’s original tender ship - SS Nomadic. Do allow three hours for a complete visit. Bigfish is right on the way of a short walk back to the center.