There are just so many things to see and do in Belfast – you need more than just a weekend, which was all I had. But whatever it is – you should – no, you MUST, squeeze in a day trip from Belfast to the Giants Causeway!!! For solo travellers, I recommend taking a day tour package with a tour company. I booked a day trip with Irish Tour Tickets Ltd which covered the Giants Causeway and a few other locations.
(Continuing from Belfast – So many things to see! – Part 1)
It’s one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen. Millions of years ago, there was volcanic activity at the site which formed a lava plateau. The lava cooled down, at varying rate/temperature leaving pillar-like structures as you see below. You can read more about it on the homepage.
There are many different versions of the legend behind the rock formation. I’ll describe the one that was told to me by the guide. There was an Irish Giant “Finn” on this side of the sea that was challenged by a Scottish giant named Benandonner across the water. Finn built a causeway so that they can meet. But when he saw the size of the Scottish Giant, he went back to his side of the water to hide as there was no way he could beat him. His wife had a brilliant idea – she disguised Finn as a baby all wrapped up in bed. When Benandonner came and saw Finn, Finn’s wife warned him not to wake the baby up. Benandonner got worried – “If the baby is already this big, imagine what the father would look like”. He rushed back across the water, destroying the causeway as he passed so that Finn wouldn’t come after him. Thought that was pretty funny.
There are many scenic trails that you can take around here. I would have loved to spend all day here (or more). I have to come back one day!
Super tiring to walk to the bridge and back again. But seriously you should do it! The bridge is 100ft above sea – made of planks strung between wires. Cool fact- quoted from the signboard at the site – “..when you cross the bridge, you are also walking across the mouth of an ancient volcano…”
The bridge was erected in 1775 by salmon fishermen so that they can check their salmon nets. They had a single hand rope only at the time – pretty out of this world. I walked across it with my small gear, i.e. mobile phone and tiny backpack and it was so windy etc. and I was so worried I’d drop my stuff. I cannot imagine how the fishermen did it with one single hand rope carrying their catch and fishing gear!
For Game of Thrones fan, the Larrybane Quarry, used as an overflow car park for visiting Carrick-a-rede, was the site for Season 2 scene. Specifically – it was the location where King Renly set up camp and when Brienne of Tarth fought in front of him and Margaery, and of course when Catelyn Stark met up with King Renly.
This was just a short stop as part of the tour, about 18km from Belfast. But if you have time, you can always come back another time. The castle was built in 1177 by John de Courcy. The castle has seen many battles – it was also used as a prison at some point. It is also the best preserved medieval castle in Ireland.
Dunluce Castle belongs to the McDonnell family. It is located on a cliff – which gives it a dramatic look. This is now a ruined castle – it is opened daily to the public – you can also join tours to the castle.
The castle was built by the McQuillan family in the early 1500s and was seized by the McDonnell family in the 1550s. The castle was abandoned in the mid-1600s when part of the castle fell into the sea due to land erosion.
For Game of Thrones fan – this is also the House of Greyjoy of the Iron Islands.
Its a beautiful harbour – but there are lots of beautiful scenery in Northern Ireland. What’s also special about this place is that they filmed Game of Thrones here. The fourth picture below is where Arya was repeatedly stabbed by the Waif at the canal – a scene in Braavos in Season 6.
Loughareema – The Vanishing Lake
I was very lucky that day. I got to see the Vanishing Lake Loughareema. Sometimes when you drive by – you don’t see any evidence of a lake. The water appears and disappears from time to time. The lake sits on some kind of “plug hole”. When the hole gets jammed up with peat, and the depression gets filled with water over time, then the lake becomes visible. When the plug clears, the water gets drained underground rapidly, and so the lake seems to have vanished. And the cycle begins again.
The original road to Ballycastle was built right through the lake for whatever reasons – by miscalculations perhaps in considering the landscape when the lake was partially drained. Anyway – it used to get flooded all the time, and in 1898, a Colonel and his party lost their lives while trying to pass through the flooded road. Later on, a new road was built in its place, but this time, the road was elevated to the maximum water level of the lake. Stone walls were erected on both sides of the roads for the safety of the road users.
What a Day!!!
I had a super time visiting Northern Ireland and I really, really didn’t want it to end. The day tour was good, but if I could do it again, I would go for a day trip just to the Giants Causeway. Also, it would have been great to join the Game of Thrones tour on another day. Anyway – this means I need to come back at some point and perhaps with friends next time!