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We’ve had a nice, relaxing week house sitting in Northern Ireland.  After a busy week on the road it was great to be able to be a little lazy :). While we spent a few days hanging out with Bonnie and Clyde, our new feline friends, we did manage to get out and about and do some exploring!

 

The Causeway Coastal Way

Our biggest day trip in Northern Ireland was driving the Causeway Coastal Route starting in Larne and heading north.  With pretty views along the way, we stopped for a few photo opportunities before arriving at Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.

View of the sea from the Causeway Coastal route in Northern Ireland.

 

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Once built and used by fishermen, this short rope bridge has become a must see tourist stop in Northern Ireland.  It spans the gap to a small islet (really just a large rock) and has of course been fortified for the tourists!  Tickets are sold for hourly time slots at £8 an adult.  There is also a quarry nearby that is one of the many filming locations for Game of Thrones.  Without the set, however, it’s a little underwhelming…

Cars parked in an old quarry along the north coast of Northern Ireland at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

A Game of Thrones filming location cleverly disguised as a parking lot!

 

We just missed a time slot for the bridge which turned out to be a happy problem that saved us £16!  People are allowed to walk all the way to the bridge without a ticket.  It turns out the views from the trail are far better than anything you would see on the bridge and with the crowds being herded back and forth each hour, we definitely didn’t feel like we missed anything!

A long line of people waiting to walk across Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Northern Ireland.

The long line to cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (45 minutes before their allotted time)!

 

A rope bridge connecting a small rock island from mainland Northern Ireland across bright turquoise water.

 

 

The Giant’s Causeway

The one thing people probably think of when they think of Northern Ireland is the Giant’s Causeway.  Rather than parking (and paying) for the visitor centre, we drove to the next town and hiked along the cliffs.  It took a little more than an hour and was well worth it.  The causeway was really busy but still an awesome sight.  How such a thing is created naturally is mind-boggling!

Children climbing the hexagonal shaped rocks of Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland.

 

 

The Dark Hedges

Another Game of Thrones film location, although this one is pretty cool to see (even for those of us who have never watched the show)!  We’ve been having the best luck with the weather during our time in Ireland so the bright sun called into the question the ‘dark’ in the name Dark Hedges, but made for some interesting shadows.

Twisted branches of trees lining a narrow lane called Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland.

 

 

Dunluce Castle

We also made a quick stop at Dunluce Castle.  These ruins are perched on a cliff’s edge and make for some great photos.  I didn’t manage to find the perfect vantage point for some of the sunset pictures I’ve seen of this place (well, actually I was too lazy to walk back up the hill…) but it’s still pretty attractive!

Ruins of Dunluce Castle perched on the cliff edge overlooking the sea Northern Ireland.

 

 

The Highlight of our Road Trip?

Before leaving the coast, we decided to make a quick stop in Portrush.  The nearby town is home to not only a surfing beach but also Royal Portrush Golf Course, an Open Championship course.  As we pulled into the car park for the golf course we saw one lonely figure putting his clubs back in his car.  We pulled up alongside and quickly realized that it was none other than Darren Clarke!  My favourite golfer!  Whose causeway?

 

 

Armagh

We also made a day trip to the cathedral city of Armagh.  This is the home of the Archbishop of both the Catholic and Protestant churches in Northern Ireland, and also the home of Terry’s grandfather.

Walking tour guide holding an umbrella in the large open market square of Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The market square in front of the St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral.

 

We booked the local walking tour which gave us a little of the local history before grabbing a local cider in a centuries old pub.  Apparently Armagh County is the orchard capital of Ireland.

Man looking into a giant metal globe in a park in Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Terry discovering the universe in the statue “Turning Point” on our walking tour of Armagh.

 

Refreshed, we took off in search of the Murphy heritage.  We spent some time in St. Patricks Roman Catholic Cathedral (there is also a St. Patricks C. of I. Cathedral just down the road). The cathedral is beautiful both inside and out.

Man standing in front of the grand facade of St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral in Armagh, Northern Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral. You should see the inside…

 

Elaborately decorated interior of St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, Northern Ireland.

 

From there we tried to find his grandfather’s old house.  It turns out the road is now completely rebuilt with new houses so we didn’t  have any luck.  However, as we went to walk away we asked an elderly couple if they knew anything.  The man had actually grown up on the same road and invited us inside while his wife tried to find an old picture.  Part of their garden wall is the original wall from the old school his grandfather would have attended.  It was an example of Irish hospitality at its best as they took our address and promised to mail the photograph and anything else they discovered to us!

 

Derry-Londonderry Tour

Our final day trip was to Derry-Londonderry.  The name continues to be under dispute between unionists and nationalists and it was interesting to see the ‘London’ spray painted out on many road signs leading into the town.

River in town of Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

 

Our original plan had been to head to Belfast but decided to do this city first.  We took a walking tour that took us along the old city wall.  Derry is the only completely walled city in Ireland and has never been breached.  It is the site of the siege during the 1600s as well as the more recent ‘Bloody Sunday’ in 1972.  Our tour guide touched briefly on the new and old history of the city while leading us past a few monuments.

Canons and trees along the old city wall in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Walking along the top of the old city wall.

 

Afterward, we took a walk down to the Free Derry wall as well as the murals depicting the history of ‘the troubles’.

Wall painted with text: You are now entering Free Derry and a mural on a building behind from the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland.

The Free Derry wall with a mural in the background. The murals tell the history of ‘the troubles’ in chronological order, ending with a peace dove designed by school children.

 

Of course we found the time to watch a few World Cup matches while house sitting!  Next week we head back to Republic of Ireland for a few more days of exploring before returning once again to Bonnie and Clyde.

Man on a couch with a cat cuddling up while housesitting.

Watching the English lads trying to bring it home with Clyde..

 

← Read about last week’s road trip around the Republic of Ireland.

 

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Categories: IrelandTravel Journal

Claire

Welcome! I love to spend time planning travel and finding new adventures in cool destinations! Together with my husband, we've managed to spend 5 years finding adventures around the world without quitting our full-time teaching jobs in Canada. We have a not-so-strict low budget, we're willing to splurge on basic comfort and amazing experiences while cutting costs wherever we can.

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