Tradition suggests you first think of Northern Ireland as a barren place without interest or wonder. To do so means you miss a rich chance to explore a very vibrant and intoxicating country. Where else will you find the enchanting Mourne mountain range that inspired C.S. Lewis to create Narnia?
This same land contains a stretch of sea coast housing nothing less than one world heritage site, expansive Nature Reserves, and castles over eight hundred years old. Tradition also may forget to tell you that only in the North of Ireland will you find the world’s oldest whiskey distillery. Do you still think you know Northern Ireland? Here are a few nuggets of gold that might change your mind.
The Carrick-a-rede rope bridge
Travel to County Antrim and you will find yourself in the land of giants. Let us begin with one tiny thread that connects sea to land. Swinging gently between the mainland and the tiny island of Carrick is the Carrick-a-rede rope suspension bridge. Literally meaning, “a rock in the road,” Carrick-a-rede offers you striking views of Scotland, Rathlin Island and the chance for incredible bird watching. Carrick-a-rede admittedly demands those travelers who are unafraid of heights or wind. Hanging about ninety feet above the rocks and water, with the strength of a spider’s web, the footbridge once was used by fisherman to fish for salmon. Make sure you are not afraid of heights; otherwise you will be left in the island. After crossing this bridge, some intrepid travelers were too scared to cross back and have been known to take a small boat back to the mainland!
The Glens of Antrim
Following the old Antrim Coastal Road you will visit the ancient, if not mystical, Glens of Antrim. Once thought to be the work of giants and now officially declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the nine Glens are cut by swift rivers and bursting with birds, trees and flowers. Intimately connected to the legend is Loughareerma, or the “vanishing lake,” because it can be empty one day and dangerously full the next. Glenariff, the largest of the nine glens, hosts the Glenariff Forest Park with its three waterfalls, riverside trails and paths through a protected Nature Reserve.
The Giants Causeway
We did promise you were in the land of Giants! An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway is an eerie terrain of column-shaped lava that resembles a collection of steps between the cliffs and the sea.
Resembling a city of temples, forty thousand basalt columns compose the Giant’s Causeway, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The seemingly uniform hexagonal shape of the columns create a haunting environment that even skeptics might believe really was the arena for a quarrel between the Irish giant Finn MacCool and the Scottish interloper, Benandonner!
These adventures will fill your day and possibly haunt your night, but do not forget to relax while you explore. Take a moment to visit Bushmills, the world’s oldest legal working distillery. You can take a factory tour as well as sample their liquid gold. Gold takes various forms in this wondrous country: take a chance on finding it.
Alex Papa spends at least 3 months a year travelling. He is a business and computer graduate. He is often invited to speak in seminars showing people how to start a small business to pay for your desired lifestyle. He also funds his travelling from his blog where he offers the latest Norton coupon code.