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Cookstown - Cushendall (Giant

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Sunday 22 December, Cookstown - Cushendall (Giant

Teije has made 40 digital pictures today and mine aren't ready yet. So it is difficult to pick the best ones. We thought we had seen the best of Ireland already (the southwest coast), but as usual in our holidays, the trip is exciting until the last. And the weather brightens up when we leave this expensive hotel, so we are ready for today.
The northern coastWhen we finally arrive at the coast, the first sunbeams are shining through the clouds. The cliffs all rise high out of the water, but we are told that there are some fine beaches down there and in fact along the whole northern coast of Northern-Ireland.
Dunluce Castle Giant’s CausewayOn the way to the Giant's Causeway we pass by Dunluce Castle. At night it is illuminated and must look really spooky, but even at daylight it radiates something special, probably because of its beautiful location.
Giant’s CausewayOur next stop is at the parking lot near the Giant's Causeway. And that means we have to walk, a lot... First we climb up the hills for a view from the cliffs. But for a better view of the causeway we really have to go down again and walk towards this miracle of nature.
Giant’s Causeway Giant’s CausewayAnd then we have to walk a steep road downwards and we realise we have to climb it again on our way back. But when we walk between the geometrically shaped basalt rocks we know it is really worthwhile the walk.
Giant’s CausewayThe rows of basalt stones stretch out for about 8 kilometres and are shaped after a volcanic eruption, about 60 million years ago. Irish legends tell us something different, like the story of a giant (Finn MacCool) who started to build a dam to Scotland, but quit when he saw another giant doing the same thing in Scotland.
Giant’s Causeway Giant’s CausewayAnother story tells how Finn MacCool walked along the coast and with every step he lifted the soil up with his feet. Well, in that case he only took very small steps, since the 5- and 6-edged stones are squeezed together very tightly. It is a slippery climb over the rocks, since all stones are a bit hollow and there is water in each of them.
Giant’s Causeway Giant’s CausewayWe can't reproduce the beautiful picture one often sees in travel brochures about Ireland, but standing here we can tell how special and unique this place is.
Giant’s CausewayAltogether we spend more than two hours on this spot and we are glad we had time to visit this curious natural phenomenon. After the steep climb back to the car we are really ready for a break. In a nearby hotel we take a rest, with some soup and bread.
Then we drive on, along the beautiful coastal route to the east and then bending to the south, the so-called Antrim Coast Road. At Carrick-a-Rede is a suspension bridge going over a deep gorge which we would like to see. But the bridge is closed between October and April and we would have to walk for a kilometre and a half before even getting a look at it. After our walking tour of this morning we decide to skip the bridge.
The Antrim Coast RoadBut there are enough other nice things to see. Where there is any space left between the steep cliffs and the sea there are often small villages. First, you don't see them from above, only when you come nearer. Often they just have one main street with, at the most, a few side streets.
The Antrim Coast RoadEverywhere we see small islands lying before the coast and most of them are inhabited by lots of seabirds. When the sky is clear one can see Scotland from here (Mull of Kintyre), but despite the regular sunshine there is a mist hanging above the sea in the distance.
The Antrim Coast RoadThe road is a twisting one and leads us through a mountainous scenery, sometimes very green with vegetation, sometimes very barren and desolate. It is indeed a very nice itinerary, like our travel guide had promised. In Cushendall we come across a hotel which is not too expensive and we make a reservation for the night.
CushendunSince it is not dark yet, we make another trip, through the Glenaan, one of the famous valleys in this part of Northern-Ireland. Again we drive through a magnificient region with waterfalls everywhere. When we return to the coast we look down at Cushendun where there seems to be a big party, considering the amount of people who walk on the streets and walk towards the village from all directions.
Back in Cushendall we first visit a local pub and then return to the hotel, but a temperature of almost 40° is a bit too warm for us. We turn the heating off, open all windows but this doesn't help. So we sit in the pub where it is nice and cool and the people are very friendly. Back in our room, it is not only still very hot, but the floor is soaking wet: the radiator leaks when the heating is turned off. And when we find out that the toilet can't be flushed, we go down to ask for another room, although we don't want to bother the staff too much. They are so friendly and do everything to make us feel comfortable. They feel very bad about it, but we feel sorry for them, they shouldn't bother so much. We just feel bad that our holiday is almost over! In our new room it is much cooler and we sleep very well this last night in Ireland.


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