We had to get up early today for a change for our tour. Thankfully, the pick up point was within 5 minutes of our hotel. It was raining again and steadily.
My name today is Finn McCool- a gentle giant from Irish folklore.
We walked over and there were at least 3 identical white tour coaches without signage. Signs would help! We grabbed take away coffee and light pastries and eventually found the right coach. Anna has booked the tour and it was a Game of Thrones themed tour (no, we did not have to dress up). A lot of scenes in the TV series were shot along the Causeway.
Derek was our tour guide/tour coach driver was and was very gregarious. The coastline was very atmospheric in the rain adding to the mood. Our first stop involved a plaque to Paddy the Pigeon (code named U2- no kidding) the most successful non-human spy in WWII. We also saw steps used in the Game of Thrones series that Ariana Stark climbed up after almost being assassinated in the TV series. Cool!
Our next stop was at the Cushendun Caves where another critical scene of the TV series was shot, Season 8. I have still not watched it! What was more fascinating was that the cave contained a private driveway leading to a residence gated at the end of the cave. Best residence entryway ever!
We proceeded through lush countryside fields and panoramic views until we reached the Dark Hedges- Bregagh Road. Hundreds of years ago a wealthy estate owner planted over 180 birch trees that have overgrown the leading lane to the house creating a moody atmosphere. It would have been great for a photograph, but, there were too many tourists on the lane to create that perfect shot. I took a few side lane photos which I was happy with. Still, it was worth seeing.
The Causeway was next. It was very busy in the car park and it took us awhile to get back unloaded. This was not going to be an intimate experience. Drizzle continued to plaque us, but, at least this time I brought my rain jacket. One does eventually learn.
We picked up our audio guides and walked along the Causeway. The basalt columns were not as impressive as their counterparts at the other end of this lava flow on Staffa Island in Scotland. It was a nice walk and I can back a different way- the Shepard’s Steps- which afforded a panoramic final view of the Causeway. The weather did make for a dreary mood but lunch was soon to follow at the Fullerton Arms Restaurant and Pub. Finally, a steak and Guinness pie and Anna had the Goujons. We bonded with an Englishwoman who was on a week holiday in Ireland. She, like Anna, had a bit of trepidation about crossing the upcoming rope bridge.
Before the Rope Bridge, we had a stop at the very picturesque Ballintoy Harbour that is often used as a backdrop for Game of Thrones. A nice walk down a windy road to a lovely view.
It was off to the Rope Bridge which was very close to the harbour. We could have walked there. The Rope Bridge was spectacular and the scenery was even better than the Causeway. Anna was able to do it! I have picture proof. Looking down crossing the bridge one really appreciated how high you were really up from the shore.
We then had a relaxing ride back to Belfast which took about 90 minutes. We arrived back at about 7 PM. Time for another good dinner and an ale to celebrate the end of a nice tour.