As I grow older, I have become slightly obsessed with beautiful landscapes.
I want to see it, breathe it in, feel it on my skin. Of course, I will be the first to admit that I am not a particularly outdoorsy person, yet my admiration for green hills, wild waterfalls and steep mountains can hardly be contained. As a Norwegian, I used to believe that no landscape could be compared to the wild mountains of Western Norway (especially Luster and Sognefjorden for those of you who are locals). Then I stumbled my way across the Scottish Highlands, and quickly decided that Isle of Skye, Glencoe, and Oban might just be the most beautiful places on earth. I was quite content with that.
However, that all changed when I set out to conquer the coast of Northern Ireland.
We left a still sleepy Belfast at 9 in the morning, and our first stop of the day turned out to be the nearby Carrickfergus Castle. The castle was built in 1177 by John de Courcy, an Anglo-Norman Knight who had conquered Ulster a few months prior to the construction. If you push your way past all the people who are eagerly trying to sell you Game of Thrones t-shirts, you will find that the castle is both tranquil and immensly beautiful. Cleverly located in the harbour, almost fully surrounded by Carrickfergus Bay, the castle looks like it is floating in the middle of the sea. While Carrickfergus Castle might not be one of Northern Ireland’s most famous landmarks, it is most definitely worth a visit.
From Carrickfergus Castle we had a 2 hours drive until we reached our next stop. I spent the entire journey catching up on sleep (why do I feel as if I am ALWAYS catching up on sleep these days?!), but the coastal route is supposedly incredibly beautiful so it might be worth it to stay awake…
We finally reached our next destination – a wonderful area in Antrim with the rather impossible name of Carrick-a-Rede (try to remember that after a few drinks). The area is home to the famous rope bridge that links the mainland to the incredibly small island of Carrickarede. You can either pay 6 pounds to cross it – or you can run around and get lost on all the wonderful paths. Whatever you choose, the view will be magnificent.
After leaving Carrick-a-Rede behind, I surely thought that nothing could ever beat that spectacular view. However, the universe once again decided to prove me wrong, and we pulled up close to our last stop of the day: Giant’s Causeway.
Giant’s Causeway is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and it is supposedly caused by a volcanic eruption (if you’re a scientist), if you are, however, more of a dreamer you will find that the Causeway was originally created by the Irish giant Finn McCool. While experiencing some trouble with the Scottish giant Benandonner, McCool, in a fit of anger, grabbed pieces of the Antrim coast and threw it into the water – thereby creating Giant’s Causeway.
However, Giant’s Causeway is so much more than just another natural wonder (as if that wasn’t already enough…). Grab some good shoes, and set out with the sole purpose of getting lost on the many beautiful paths of the Causeway…
Northern Ireland is incredibly beautiful, isn’t it? I’m still a wee bit overwhelmed by all the beauty, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back soon to do some more exploring…