Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ireland!!: The Glens of Antrim

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We didn't really have a plan for the Glens of Antrim - we were just going to wander out there to see what we would find. We followed the map to a little town called Cushendall, where we saw a sign for a church ruin, Layde Church, and checked that out. Well, we checked it out after we finally found it - we drove pretty far beyond it first and then turned around. The ruin wasn't super-spectacular, but from the surrounding graveyard there was a nice view of the ocean, and following the path past the church further, there was an even better view. After looking around there for a bit, we got some lunch in Cushendall at a place called Arthur's, where we discovered that even if you don't get your cheese-containing sandwich toasted, it comes with grated cheese inside, which is kind of strange in a non-toasted sandwich. So get it toasted if you're having cheese! (I had chicken and cranberry, which is delicious no matter how you eat it.)

We planned to stop at the tourist office and see if they had any tips for the area, but they closed for the day at 1pm and we were too late, so we got out the map and looked for landmarks nearby. Something called Ossian's grave was marked and we totally got lost looking for it. We never found it, but had a really lonely, beautiful drive through the country, where the only other person we saw was a naked guy in a car. For real.

After the drive we pulled out a guidebook (ye olde Lonely Planet, which is good for outdoor things) which said you can find sea caves in Cushendun. That sounded pretty awesome so we went there. Cushendun is tiny and there seem to be more holiday apartments there than anything else. We did like the caves, though. They were small but pretty with lots of neat plants growing out of rocks and stuff. We came up to them along the shore, but when the tide is higher you might have to take a path that goes behind all the holiday apartments to get to them. On the way back through town we saw some swans nesting in the river Dun (Cushendun means "mouth of the river Dun"). The male was picking plants off the river bottom and depositing them behind himself, but he was moving in circles so it was completely futile. Still, we couldn't stop watching.

Glens of Antrim Mai 11

We stopped to pick up some caffeine at Therese's Tea Room and made our way back to the car, followed by this cute little dog who really wanted to be friends. Sadly we couldn't take him with us. We went onward toward Ballycastle, looking for a trail out to Fair Head, which is supposed to have nice views all the way to Scotland. Again we got a little lost (not sure what the problem was that day, but we definitely got lost a lot...) but finally found it through the pouring rain. The rain let up just long enough for us to hike from a tiny cluster of houses/ruined houses/farm buildings through some fields and moorland, past a lake with an old fortified island in it, up to the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. It was awesome (see photos!). We couldn't see Scotland because of the weather, but there is a view of Rathlin Island from there. When we got back to the car, it started pouring again.

Next: The Giant's Causeway!

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