The Giant’s Causeway must be the most photographed location in Northern Ireland, the more so since it’s been featured as a Game of Thrones location. We’ve been close a couple of times, but this is the first time we’ve had our own transport and could drive along one of the world’s more spectacular routes, world heritage listed as an AONB – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
We were warned to drive up through the inland, rather than along the coast – ‘Otherwise you’ll never get there, because you’ll stop to take too many photos.’ First stop was Bushmills, home to the whiskey distillery. The village looks as if it survives on whiskey and Giant’s Causeway tourism. This is good in so far as it leads to the town retaining its attractive streetscape, enhanced by banners celebrating any celebrity with a connection to Bushmills. John Wayne, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and Dolly Parton make the list. Perhaps they’ve all enjoyed a whiskey at some time in their lives. Yes, yes, John Wayne’s film The Quiet Man was shot in Ireland, though not in Bushmills as far as I know. Mark Twain apparently observed that The Giants Causeway was ‘worth seeing, though not worth the trouble of getting there’. It’s less trouble these days for those with a red car. Whether it’s worth paying nine quid to the National Trust for the privilege of entering via the gift shop is more debatable. On TripAdvisor that someone recommended skipping the Visitors Centre and instead having a drink in the hotel next door in return for parking and toilet rights.
When we’d well and truly got our nine pounds’ worth of funny-shaped rocks, we set off back along the coast on the scenic route. We’d have no trouble declaring it one of the greatest coastal roads. It’s narrow and winding and the driver needs to resist the temptation to admire the views, though there are plenty of places to stop for photo ops.
Nearly back home…time to pause for coffee and scones in the village of Carnlough.
And so back to the Central Bar, Carrickfergus, where Thursday is Curry Night, with a pint of Guinness thrown in with the pappadums.