After a wonderfully quiet night parked at Glenariff Forest Park, we enjoyed bacon rolls before taking ourselves off for a little walk. The campsite had immaculate facilities including a luxurious heated toilet and shower block, and hard standing, plus fully serviced pitches. In our opinion, excellently priced at just £20pn too.
Glengariff Forest Park is known locally as Queen of the Glens, and it’s not hard to see why. It was different to how I imagined in that is was at the top of the glen rather than the base, but this made for lovely views from our pitch, but also a downhill start to our Waterfall walk – and the dreaded uphill back! The waterfall walk at Glenariff was recommended to us by quite a few people on various Facebook pages, and actually was the reason why we booked to stay here. The 3km walk did not disappoint, it was well paved and offered views of three separate waterfalls, and a pretty impressive gauge.
We returned from our walk for 11am and did one last wash up before hitting the road. Our first stop of the day was Cushendun, which is a pretty little seaside village.
We stocked up on some local beef steak sausages from the Spar and carried on along the coast road. Our next stop was the National Trust owned Carrick-a-rede Rope bridge and coastline. More recently the adjoining old quarry, Larrybne, now the NT overspill car park, was used as a filming location for Game of Thrones, so as you can imagine it was pretty busy here.
Perhaps now is the time to admit that Keith and I haven’t watched Game of Thrones. Anytime we’ve ever mentioned to people about this, we are gasped, gawped and god knows what else at! We did try to get into it, but after series 1 ep 3 we kind of gave up!
Carrick-a rede rope bridge connects the mainland to a tiny island which used to be used by salmon farmers.
They used to have their own rope bridge which looked terrifying, to cross to get their salmon fishing boats. Nowadays the rope bridge is still terrifying but much safer than how it was originally. It hangs 100ft above the sea, and really is utterly terrifying to cross. However, I’m so proud of say both Keith and I managed it, despite me having a phobia of heights, swinging things, uneven and insecure edges, plus a whole host of other issues that should have prevented me crossing!
It may have taken US BOTH about 30 minutes and a swift Carling tinny in Ruby- well it was lunchtime, and when else can you have a picnic lunch on a film set – to recover. But, we did it! AND we LOVED it (in our own terrified way!)
Check out our video here 🤣
Attempting to embrace the Games of thrones excitement we ventured for our last stop of the day to the famous (if you watch GOT) Kings Road- known here as The Dark Hedges. This rather spectacular and creepy mile or so tree lined road is now heaving with enthusiasts however for us we really found the tree shaping fascinating and great for a leg stretch and photo opportunity.
If you visit, please respect that is is now a huge tourist area, and whilst there is very generously no entry charge, or parking charge, please don’t park on the road itself. There are numerous signs asking people not or park or drive down the road, and the hotel across the road has generously providing free parking. So why on earth it was ignored by at least 5 cars in the 20 mins we spent there is just beyond me. I’m willing to bet in 5 years or likely less, you’ll have to pay entry or parking to manage the huge crowds flocking here.
Just 8 miles from The Dark Hedges was our home for the next 3 nights, Ballyness Caravan Park. This had been recommended to me by several and I can absolutely see why. The facilities are absolutely wonderful and immaculate. There is a regular bus service from the campsite to the attractions in both directions along the coast. There is a huge dog walk on site. It is by far the best campsite we have ever stayed on.
The weather is tremendous and as we don’t want to assume it’s here to stay, we decided to have a bbq tonight.
We enjoyed the local sausages, a lamb leg steak each we picked up (also local) and accompanied it with a jacket spud and stuffed mushroom each cooked in our new Remoska courtesy of Lakeland.
It was delicious, we stayed outside until it got dark. We can’t believe how much we’ve enjoyed our first day in Northern Ireland.
Another day, another bucket list item to tick off! Today it’s the UNESCO world heritage site that is The Giants Causeway. Actually it’s quite fair to say that both Keith and I were tremendously excited about visiting this site, it’s been a dream for years. And that old Irish O’Gorman luck was on our side – it was so sunny, we decided to get our shorts on. Not bad for April 9th.
Although there is a regular bus service from the campsite, we opted to don our walking boots and walk the 4 miles there. The route took us through Bushmills where we picked up the old tram heritage railway, and then the path ran beside the railway the whole way there.
We took the extended route around the headland just before the Giants Causeway. The scenery was beautiful and rivalled the Coastal path in Cornwall and Pembrokeshire.
Bu the time that we got to the visitors centre we were buzzing! Entry to the Giants Causeway itself is free for all, however National Trust members can gain free parking should you need it, an audio guide and access to the visitors centre and toilets as part of your membership (£12.50 otherwise) There is also a free shuttle down from the visitors centre to the causeway – 20 min walk otherwise. We found the audio guide was very informative into how the Causeway was formed and why it’s called the Giants Causeway.
The Giants Causeway was absolutely phenomenal. I mean seriously SERIOUSLY awesome.
The stones in large are shaped as almost perfect pentagons, and the columns are just mind bending. The scenery is breathtaking and we spent 4 hours there just in absolute awe of Mother Nature.
As you can probably tell, we absolutely LOVED our visit, and rate it as spectacular at the Grand Canyon. A real must for all to visit.
We took the bus back to Bushmills (£2.20 each) but disembarked a stop early than the campsite to replenish our alcohol supplies. We have found since being in NI normal convenience stores such as the Spar and Coop DON’T sell alcohol! Part of the joy of exploring new areas for us is to embrace the local ale/gin/cider etc so we were thrilled when we spotted a liquor store attached to a supermarket in Bushmills. I also brought a brush as I forgot mine and therefore my hair is resembling a birds nest as it’s not been brushed since last Friday! We stocked up on Irish ale, cider and of course gin before walking the last 3/4s of a mile back to Ruby.
I made from scratch a chilli con carne for the slow cooker before we left this morning, but accidentally left it on high! So today I got to use my Remoska to resurrect the chilli – I put the now dried up chilli into foil cartons, topped with Doritos and grated cheese for 20 mins and we ended up with a delicious chilli and nacho meal – something we couldn’t have done without the Remoska.
Thanks Lakeland,you got me out of the dog house! I absolutely definitely intended to do the chilli this way!
Wednesday dawned another fabulous sunny day. We are starting to become rather attached to this campsite, the showers are just phenomenal, as is the location, and talks are taking place in Ruby the VW as to whether we can change our next campsite, instead remaining here but still do the activities we’ve planned. Watch this space…
We opted for a bit of a lazy morning, that culminated in a home cooked Irish breakfast, which was cooked al fresco – the first of the year, except for the sausages which went in the Remoska and cooked beautifully for an hour whilst we got showered and sorted the rest of the breakfast out.
I’m loving having the Remoska as an alternative to gas hob cooking – I can get on with other stuff (including a cuppa outside in the sunshine) rather than having to sit and watch and constantly turn the food and turn the gas flame up or down inside Ruby.
We unloaded the bikes and took ours,eves for a gentle 2 miles bike ride to nearby Portballintrae. Here there is a lovely stretch of beach which we thoroughly enjoyed walking the length of, and I was eying up places to paddleboard from tomorrow perhaps.
On our way back I managed to not only loose my chain, but get it completely and utterly wedged between the cogs. Keith spent at least 30 mins trying to get it out to no avail, and at the point we decided to just walk back, we noticed a local man working on his own bike in his garden, so we asked if he had some oil we could try. He was so friendly, he took over, and ended up using not only a chisel, but a hammer too to get my chain back to where it needed to be! What a nice man!
On the way back we dropped into Bushmills Distillery to get some miniatures to try – dogs aren’t allowed on site, so I nipped inside to the shop, before stocking up across the road at the Spar for some side dishes for our Irish steak dinner – we also tried a local ice cream which was yummy.
The rest of the afternoon was sat outside Ruby in our own version of heaven. The sun was gorgeous and we were about as chilled out as we could be. A far cry from this time last week!
Dinner tonight was not one but 2 Irish fillet steaks, served with chips and onion rings cooked in the Remoska and corn on the cob and mushrooms. Al fresco of course for the 3rd night running!
So the question remains. Will we move on from here, the best campsite we’ve ever stayed on ever in nearly 10 years of motorhoming, to our next designated campsite tomorrow? Or will we make a change to our itinerary?
You’ll have to wait and see 😉
Until next time