An early an very uneventful crossing with Stenaline Ferries. The sort of crossing you wish for really. Arriving into Belfast Docks just after 9.30am and no plan. I left here as a boy of 14 and save for a couple of business trips, I haven’t been back since. So with an open mind we set off. I remember going down to Bangor fora little holiday and being forced to go for a swim in Picky Pool….it was bloody freezing then and things haven’t gotten any warmer, despite climate change. So with no Mum to force me in, I gave it a miss. I remember her clearly saying ” we’ve brought you all this way, so you’re going in”. It’s about 25 minutes from Belfast ….!.We had a quiet coffee by the Harbour and a drive along the Coast to a few of the places I remember as a wee boy…Very pretty in parts and really quiet. My Uncle still has a caravan in Millisle.
So after givin Amanda a very brief tour of the Ards Peninsula, we headed North up the Coast, looking for a suitable spot to spend our first evening. We stopped briefly at a number of villages including Carnlough near Ballymena. We are quickly finding Game of Throne location around almost every corner.
.We settled in a small harbour In Cushendun. A lovely quiet spot in a pretty harbour and had an evening pint in McBrides (Guinness of course). Apparently a favorite Irish Inn of Robert Deniro whilst visiting Liam Neeson who was born just up the road. Spent a quiet evening next door to a lovely English couple ( Mark and Raquel) who now reside in Wales and have kindly offered to go up Snowden, the highest in Wales with us.. I have been up The Ben in Scotland and I thought it was pretty tough but Mark did the 3 peaks (Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowden) in 21 hours, or there abouts from memory. I think I might just stay home and wash my hair that day 😉 thanks Mark.
.. Just around the bay are the Red Caves another GoT location. N. Ireland is certainly getting its money’s worth with tourists. A group were here with swords and capes play fighting for their pics to show back home. Good on em !
.The door above was carved from a tree which fell in the Dark Hedges. If you don’t watch GoT , its just a nice intricately carved door. 1 tree felled by the wind had 12 doors depicting scenes from GoT and are located all around Ireland.
Now on to more naturally beautiful spots as you can see below. Everything here is within spitting distance compared to home. We slowly drove further North stopping and walking and lots of lovely spots and taking the odd photo. In the past we have used nice 35mm cameras but now we don’t bother and simply use our I phones. Not as good obviously but worth it for sheer convenience and if you don’t blow the pictures up too much, they’re fine. ( Keep your opinions to yourselves all you David Bailey long lens, wide angle, fisheye photo snobs please).
.An obvious spot was to go to the Carrick a Rede bridge and we did. Again I visited this area as a schoolboy on a Geography outing but I remember the bridge as a much more rickety affair. OH and S have a lot to answer for. You could fall of the cliff a few hundred metres away and break your bloody neck but you’ll be safe on this bridge to the local Salmon fishing spot. The price of progress !
.You may notice how green it all is. It rains a LOT and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.
Berries with our fruit and porridge is a morning ritual now and Amanda jumps at every opportunity to keep us supplied each day. Patience of a Saint my wife. Murderous looking digits too haha for her efforts. This was taken at White Rocks Beach which is a beautiful long sandy stretch. Horses are allowed to run here before 11.00am and after 7.00 pm in the evening.
She is sporting a lovely new rain jacket below. Apparently designed in Belfast. It later proved to do what it said on the tin WATERPROOF. “You wear it well”…Thankyou Rod that’ll be enough from you…..I could go on with this for a very long time you know.
“Have you ever seen the rain” are you joking Rod? Were in Bloody Ireland !….OK no more I promise…….haha “I was only joking ”
I just realized why I have subconsciously referenced Rod Stewart and remember as a schoolboy at The Boys Model in Belfast I used to wear a very long Steward tartan scarf as I was quite partial to his early stuff. I took same scarf when we moved to England in the mid seventies and had to bin it because The Bay City Rollers had struck success. HOW did they ever become successful ? Ask Amanda because by all accounts she was a love struck teenager with Mr McEwans face plastered all over the bedroom walls. Lol
.People and Companies often do some great deeds. Parked above the Dunes, this little caravan offered to repair your wetsuit, or indeed any clothing for free. Trying to save the planet by stopping people just throwing out the old and buying new…Hats off guys that’s a great initiative..We stopped at The Giants Causeway, another old schoolboy Geography trip. You can look up it’s significance on Basalt columns and volcanic fissure eruption on Google. I still think Finn McCool having a wee fight with some Scottish giant a far better yarn. .
.Lovely picturesque vistas as we start our journey West.
.After an evening spent in Donegal we continued South in torrential rain, not just an Irish mist….seriously smashing down rain, we passed several swollen rivers and crossed a lot of flooded roads. So based on that you’d rightly assume I would know that grass verges would be sodden and one should avoid them at all costs in a big old motorhome weighing 4 plus tonne. Oh no, not me. In a moment of madness I crossed the line and ended up motionless,. No traction or any amount of backwards and forwards could coach the shit of a thing out of the bloody mud.
We rang a local garage and 20 minutes later, with Amanda 50 metres down the road (in her lovely new Belfast designed waterproof designer coat and a sexy hivis vest) was slowing traffic. The Garda who coincidentally turned up amidst all the mayhem helped as best he could, sporting a very wide grin bless him. I was only 6 inches and 100 Euros from freedom……Bugger it, what an absolute dumnass am I ?
We carried on, Amanda perfectly dry and me penniless and embarrassed beyond words. Onward through the rain. We followed the Wild Atlantic Way to a glorious overnight spot in Kilgalligan in County Mayo. Got there just in time to fasten everything down before an absolutely wild night of high winds. We awoke to a beautiful but cold scene. Totally isolated on our own and with views left and right which were gorgeous.We spent the morning wandering aimlessly on the deserted beach. This really was wild camping at its best.
We carried on South and I was keen to visit the Village Cong. Forget Game of Thrones, I was a great fan of The Duke ( John Wayne) and this is where they filmed The Quiet Man, with Kathleen O’Hara, so I had to make a slight detour. Parking was not easy but we made a quick dash around the Village and bagged a photo.
A few more villages along the way and an evening in Galway parked on the Port in the centre of Town. We honestly didn’t do the place justice as time was getting away and we had an impending appointment in Killarney.
Ps……that 100 Euros still hurts !!
A and A xx