Part 1 of our 2 part series on the stunning coastal drive to Giant’s Causeway. You can read Part 2 of the Causeway Coastal Drive here.
We (aka your resident Travel Bunnies) love to tackle anything that comes our way – Safaris, Adventure, Cruises, City Breaks, Beach Holidays. But if there’s one thing that gets our pulses racing, it’s Road Trips.
It would be an underestatement to say we’re fond of road trips. That’s because we friggidiggin LOVE them. It makes the probability of stumbling upon hidden gems so much easier and travelling so much more fun. One can absorb things at ones’ own pace and savour them, before moving onto the next pit stop.
The coastal drive to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is a hundred mile stretch that boasts of some jaw-droppingly spectacular scenery. It is centred around the nine glens (valleys) of Antrim. It’s been mentioned by National Geographic as one of the most scenic drives in the world, yet Northern Ireland never seems to feature on wish-lists.
When To Go
Summer, summer, summer (July-October)
Northern Ireland is a part of the UK. A valid UK visa is all you need for this road-trip.
Northern Ireland is a part of the UK, so the currency used is Sterling Pound (£)
Where to stay
A cottage, somewhere deep in the countryside, is definitely your best bet for such a trip. Staying in a cottage is a perfect way of experiencing the countryside at close quarters.
We stayed at the Tavnaghoney Cottages near Cushendall and would highly recommend them, especially if you’re travelling in a group.
Here’s what the itinerary looks like –
The drive to Giant’s Causeway starts at the Belfast Airport. There are a number of car-rental booths at the airport. We suggest booking online to avail the best offers.
You could spend a day or two exploring the city of Belfast and all it has to offer. If you opt for this, make sure you rent the car afterwards – it’s no fun driving in the city. Alternatively, drive straight from the airport to your rented cottage nestled in the countryside. You will get a taste of the sublime scenery almost as soon as you leave the airport. Ambling sheep, grazing cows, and the serene air of the countryside will lull you into contemplating the divine joys of life.
b) Glenariff Forest Park
I’ve already raved about the Glenariff Forest Park. I wasn’t lying when I said there is something quite magical about it, almost as if the air is peppered with fairy-dust. The Glenariff Forest Park is a large rural space, complete with woodlands, rivers, and gorges.
Spend your day picnicking and exploring the park. Make sure you walk up to the waterfalls. Don’t blame us if you come out dreaming of goblins, pixies, and elves. This place is enchanted – it really is!
Entry – Free, Parking – £4.50/day (as of September ’13)
c) Cushendall and Cushendun
As you drive further along the Antrim Coastline, you will reach a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Cushendall is a charming town, the meeting point of three Glens of Antrim. The Glens are associated with a number of legends and myths about fairy-folk and mischievous elves. Fittingly, these little towns have an aura of magic about them.
We suggest going for a leisurely stroll by river Dall. Cushendall is also the perfect place to replenish your supplies if you are staying in a self-catering cottage as it has a couple of large supermarkets.
d) Torr Head
A short drive through rugged cliffs, green glens, and forest trails leads one to Torr Head, a peak looking out to the Irish Sea. It’s hard to articulate the magnificence of this place, but I’ll give it a shot.
The stark blue sea lies ahead as you stand on limescale rocks with green fields and sheep for company. Torr head makes it so easy to feel at one with nature. Take a look
Entry– Free, Parking– Free
e) Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
Can you believe that the most exciting part of this drive is yet to come? Soon after crossing Cushendall, the serpentine road curves towards the sea. The rest of the drive is spent driving right by the sea. No wonder, it’s a favourite locale for adverts featuring cars and bikes.
Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge is definitely the most exhilarating stop on this drive. A short coastal footpath leads visitors to this rope bridge stretched precariously between two cliff-tops. The bridge was first erected by fishermen to catch salmon, but is a popular tourist attraction now.
Vid breezed through it but I stepped on the bridge with trepidation, my heart in my mouth. In fact, I might have held my breath till we crossed on to the other side. In my defence, we visited on an extremely windy day when the bridge was swaying like there’s no tomorrow. Eek.
This one is definitely not for the faint-hearted or those who suffer from vertigo.
Entry– £5.60 (as of September ’13), Parking– Free
We wound up our days with BBQ’s at our cottage and I tried my hand at BBQ’ing Sid with a giant fork 😉
There’s a lot more to this scenic drive besides enchanted forests, spectacular panoramas, and rope bridges perched over jutting cliffs. Read about it in Part 2 of the Causeway Coastal Route 🙂