Back on the Causeway Coast

The Causeway Coast stretches 30 miles from the mouth of the River Foyle in the West to the Glendun River in the East.  We last visited Magilligan Point in the west in December 2019:

but on this occasion in warm March weather, a shorter journey took us to Portstewart promenade. We began our walk at the harbour.

The shore is very rocky here.

As it was so warm, we sat down and had an Ice cream from Morellis who have been selling it since 1911. The beach here is very small

but further west of the town are the Portstewart Strand and Downhill beaches. Back at the harbour end you can walk down to the Herring Pond which has views over to Portrush.

We arrived in Portrush hoping to have a browse in the secondhand bookshop. The ‘open’ sign was on the door and the lights were on but the door was locked. We had a wander around town and down to the harbour.

Further along the coast is Magheracross viewpoint which looks towards Dunluce Castle and on a clear day the Skerries, a small group of islands.

There were some hang gliders above us.

We had lunch at Shell Beach, Portballintrae which has views over to Runkerry Beach. I found a fair bit of sea glass here.

Whitepark Bay is a SSI and sheep and cattle graze behind the dunes.

There are the remains of a ‘hedge school’ for young gentlemen. The beach has a lot of stones and you can find ammonite and belemite fossils here sometimes.

Our final stop was Ballycastle. It is one of only two places in Northern Ireland that was associated with coal mining and it also had a glassworks which ceased production in 1791. You can take the ferry here to Rathlin Island which we did previously.

The Glenshesk River estuary is in the bay and there are views towards Fairhead.

Lazy days by the Causeway Coast

Causeway Coast 12 Whitepark Bay 15 Aug 2016-1
On Saturday morning we were almost first off the ferry and made it to Ballymoney in good time. After breakfast we wandered into town for a caffeine fix and to use the wifi in a local café. Every time we come, a few more shops have closed. It is still the marching season here and several flute bands walked through the high street before getting on their buses to Derry. Shortly afterwards, some heavily armoured police Landrovers from Belfast followed them. In the afternoon we drove to Portstewart which has renovated the promenade since we were here last year. There is a wider path by the beach, curved street lamps and a sculpture entitled ‘The Fishing Boat’ by Niall O’Neill.
The Fishing Boat by Niall O'Neill Portstewart 13 Aug 2016-1
We visited the Art Shop; the proprietor is someone we have bought antique maps from in the past and we had a look through his collection but did not find anything we wanted. He told us that he was now getting into movie posters and I overheard him saying to another customer that he had about 600.
On Sunday evening we took James’s parents and other relatives out for a meal at a hotel on the coast to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. This morning we drove along part of the Causeway Coast and popped into the secondhand bookshop there where I found another two volumes for a natural history series I am collecting. We continued past Dunseverick, Ballintoy and on to Whitepark Bay with Islay and the Mull of Kintyre on the horizon. The bay has a four-star Youth Hostel which might be a stopping off point when we walk the coastal path at some point in the future. We are looking forward to James retiring and we can have longer sojourns over here. There is now a day passenger ferry over to Islay which includes lunch at the distillery. The beach is backed by wildflower strewn cliffs, the ruins of the old youth hostel and pasture for cattle. It is somewhere to go hunting for fossils: belemnites, a relative of the ammonite, can be found in some of the stones and rocks on this beach and I have a small collection accumulated over the years, on my mantelpiece.
Causeway Coast 9  Whitepark Bay 15 Aug 2016-1
On our way back to Ballymoney we passed the Dark Hedges which were relatively unknown outside Northern Ireland until they featured in ‘Game of Thrones’. Now you can hardly move for tourists, a new hotel has sprung up and they are finally on the map.
Causeway Coast 17 Dark Hedge 2 15 Aug 2016-1
We are now in a queue at Belfast Docks waiting to get on the ferry.
Waiting for the ferry 15 Aug 2016-1