Are you game for exploring the Causeway Coastal Route?
Let me help you with the details!
I’m ashamed to say, that even though I live under an hours drive away from the start of the Causeway Coastal Route; I have only recently dedicated much time to exploring it! Don’t worry though – I have spent the past year getting to know this popular part of Northern Ireland. It’s a hard life….
The entire route is approximately 130 miles long and connects to the ‘Wild Atlantic Way ‘ in Derry and the ‘Mourne Scenic Route’ in Belfast. You can go for it, and do the whole route in a day – should you be exceptionally short on time… But I would advice a minimum of two days for visitors. Local folk can pick and choose. Explore the Causeway coastal Route in sections. In #MiniAdventures
But what have I been getting up to along the Causeway Coastal Route? And what would I recommend you get up to?
The Giant’s Causeway is a must visit if you are exploring the Causeway Coastal Route. It’s the route’s namesake after all!
The Giant’s Causeway became Northern Irelands only UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, and has seen improvements and protection ever since. It’s also seen a snazzy new visitors centre and an altogether more expensive experience than before…. But that isn’t an entirely bad thing. Apart from the fact that The Giant’s Causeway can now be bit confusing for visitors; and sees many a complaint online. So I am gonna lay it out for you…
If you want to explore the visitors centre and have a handy personal radio to inform you of the sights as you go – park in the car park, pay your dues, and soak up as much of the info as possible. I do recommend this for first time visitors, who aren’t on a tight budget. The radio story for kids os particularly good. For adults and children alike.
However, if your interest lies with seeing the actual columns themselves – then there is no need to pay; as all the walking trails are free. Don’t let yourself feel tricked into paying. It may appear like you have to, but if you A) Use the fab park and ride facility from Bushmills or B) Visit insanely early and leave before anyone arrives; the wonderful walk, views and columns themselves are free for your viewing pleasure! This is what I did on my most recent visit. The Giants Causeway is particularly mystical in the early morning light.
Don’t say I never give you anything… The gift of knowledge 😉
If you are looking for some basic accommodation to allow you to break your journey along the Causeway Coastal Route, I would highly recommend Aunt Rachel’s Wooden Wigwams! They are perfectly located for that early morning dash to the Giants Causeway. When Shelley and I stayed here we set a 6am wake up call to allow us to sneak down to the Giants Causeway before the sunrise. Ok… So I’ll admit that the sunrise wasn’t superb. But we managed to have the place almost entirely to ourselves… AND we saw an otter. So basically #WinningAtLife
After our early morning Giants Causeway excursion, we required a significant amount of grub. And I was desperate for a coffee! 3hree Kings Coffee Company fulfilled both wishes.
Is there anything more fun than scary the life outta yourself? No?… Thought not! Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is nearly 100ft above sea level; so it’s no surprise that crossing can be nail biting experience. Just ask Shelley. i’m surprised I even managed to get her across…
The bridge was first erected in 1755 – and although the bridge has seen many repairs since; the locations is by no means lacking in charm. On select weekends through out the year, the fisher mans cottage is open for visitors. It is still the only building on the little island, and offers a sneak peak into how life might have been.
Although the round trip from the carpark, over the bridge, and back again takes little more than an hour and a half – it is well worth it for the views alone. And if you are a little nervous of heights; there is a ticket available minus the bridge crossing. Just so you can soak up the expansive view!
I was recently lucky enough to be a guest of the Brown’s Restaurant Group at their establishments in Derry. Their two restaurants in the city offer modern dining with a whole heap of importance given to my favourite thing. Local producers.
Not only do they search the North West for the best of artisan producers; they also treat each farmer / maker with the love and respect they deserve. Putting the focus on encouraging the flavours to shine – with plenty of skill and care in the kitchens; not only by Ian Orr, but also by his whole team. They also took time to recognise how important their crack team of front of house staff are. It always adds to the occasion when you are on the receiving end of skilled FOH – but they often go unrecognised.
Pay special attention to the Donnybrewer butter you are likely to be served with your freshly baked bread. It is truly superb. And the beef from Brendan Gallagher meats – who on our visit had supplied some stunning Dexter Beef Cheeks.
On April 20th 1608, King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips ( landowner and Governor of Co. Antrim, Ireland ) a license to distil – In 1784 The Old Bushmills Distillery became official. Hugh Anderson registered the Old Bushmills Distillery and the Pot Still became its registered trade mark.
Bushmills Distillery is the world’s oldest distillery. Not something to be sniffed at! It’s worth taking a tour solely for the smell of sweet, sweet malt… It’s also a very informative interesting, yet relaxed, tour. So there’s that too. And the tasting at the end… Superb. Even for a non whiskey fan. Group together with your compadre and try as many as possible. All in the name of research 😉
Old school indulgence. Need I say anymore?
This stunning country house hotel is the perfect place to channel your inner lord/lady. With only 9 bedrooms, you can be assured of a personal experience – where all the staff go the extra mile to make you feel at home. Unfortunately I have only made a fleeting visit to Ardtara Country House; but I intend to fix that was an afternoon tea visit as soon as possible!
The Torr Scenic Route is a slight detour from the Causeway Coastal Route – but it is most certainly worth doing. Skinny roads. Tight turns. Luscious Green fields. Plenty of Livestock. Outstanding Causeway Coastal Route views over the Mull of Kintyre… Perfect! And it feels like an adventure.
A wonderful spot just outside Larne to stop for a bit of fresh air towards the beginning of your road trip. I have stopped here 3 times – and each time I have seen a rainbow and touched a puppy. Isn’t that enough to persuade you to take a stroll along the strand?
Glenarm is a stunning little village on the Causeway Coastal Route. Visit for its pretty scenery and CASTLE. More on that soon…
Every good road trip should feature a waterfall. This is one of my favourites. Currently a couple of places behind Eas a’ Ranca / Assaranca Waterfall.
I still have so much exploring to do – along the Causeway Coastal Route; and all throughout Northern Ireland. But I am most certainly gonna squish a lot in this Spring/Summer. So watch this space!
I’d love your recommendations too. So please let me know your top spots; all over the island of Ireland.