We got up early to catch our bus for the trip to Giant’s Causeway. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t often do guided tours, but sometimes it’s easiest to pay for the transportation/tour all in one. This was one such case and well worth it. Even though this is technically a tour, they drop you off so you can enjoy Carrick-a-Rede and Larrybane and then pick you up and take you to Giant’s Causeway. So you have plenty of time to still walk around at your own pace.
Our first stop was Carrick-a-Rede and Larrybane. I had never heard of this place before and really only went because it came with the trip to Giant’s Causeway. Boy, was I glad that it did!
The name comes from Scottish Gaelic Carraig-a-Rade, which signifies ‘the rock in the road.’ According to the National Trust, Atlantic salmon journey westward past Carrick Island. Over 350 years ago, fishermen built the first rope bridge 30m above the sea so they could access the best points to catch these fish. Today the 65 ft bridge presents a challenge to the tourists that visit each year. While it might seem perilous (and terrifying to those afraid of heights), the views are definitely worth it. In fact you can see Rathlin Island, the Causeway Coast and even Scotland from this point.
The rope bridge you must cross for these views:
As a side note, Game of Thrones filmed in this location, using it for Renly Baratheon’s camp in Season 2.
The second stop was Giant’s Causeway and the reason for my day trip. Giant’s Causeway is often called the 8th Wonder of the World and it’s easy to see why. It’s a massive structure that’s made up of thousands of interlocking hexagonal basalt columns that were formed as the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. You can walk all over the Causeway and even climb the Shepherd’s Steps into the hills above and hike along the cliff-top trail. It’s next to the sea and like Larrybane has incredible views. I felt so lucky to have gotten to experience this site.
The tourist brochure that The National Trust produces provides pictures of some of the oddly shaped structures that you can see here: The Camel, The Granny, The Giant’s Boot, etc. It can be fun to try to find these signature stones while you’re walking around.
They also caution people to stay away from the cliff edges and to not get too close to the shoreline. They have pictures around of people being pulled out of the water by helicopter, so it seems like tourists have fallen into the sea and had to be rescued on more than one occasion. Fortunately, we didn’t have any issues when we were there.
The last stop of our day was Dunlace castle, which was more of photo op than anything else. We couldn’t go too near the castle, but it sure was a site, even from the road.
After seeing these amazing sites it was time to move on to London. Only a few days prior, I had been eager to get back to the hustle and bustle of city life, however, I found myself sad to leave Belfast. I will always remember my time there fondly. Between the people, the beautiful sites, and the important lessons I learned from the Danes, Belfast was the city that set the tone for the rest of my trip. And the lessons I learned there profoundly affected my attitude and the manner in which I traveled for the next three months.