October 2021 - Giants Causeway - Day 3
Today was moving day and the plan had originally been to take an early slow drive up the causeway coastal route. However given that Karen was still feeling grotty we decided to take it more leisurely getting ourselves down to breakfast and back in our rooms to pack up. It was almost 10am before the wheels on the car were moving.
It seemed strange to be leaving the City as we had become quite fond of it in the short time we had been here. Rather than the coast route we took the direct route which meant we arrived at the Giants Causeway car park just past 11am. We had pre booked for the ‘visitor experience’ which after yesterday I was fully expecting to include a ride of some description. Everyone was very friendly and helpful in getting us into the building. The building and exhibition were somewhat disappointing in that there wasn’t a Disney ride and the exhibition itself was to put it bluntly boring and just about local artistes.
So we quickly headed outside to see the actual causeway having picked up our complimentary audio tour on the way. I was really quite excited by this and it was a place I had wanted to visit for a long time. I had mental picture of what it would be like, perhaps similar to Malham Cove.
t was nothing like that at all. In fact of the causeway itself I was slightly underwhelmed. It was smaller and you probably needed to be above it to really get the full effect. The rocks were also a bit slippery making it difficult to walk out and even if Karen had been feeling a 100% she probably wouldn’t have attempted it with her dodgy knee and ankle. I scrambled over for a bit mainly just to say that I had.
Whilst the causeway itself would have been better if Disney had built it, the setting and scenery were just spectacular. It was a steep walk down to the causeway around a couple of bays and they were beautiful. We were lucky as we seemed to have caught a break in the clouds and for a moment we could see the outline of the Scottish Islands in the distance.
Once we had ‘done’ the causeway we decided to continue along the coastal path round the next bay to a point we could see high on a cliff where more of the lava formed rocks were exposed. It was a good climb but worth it.
Just as we started our walk back it we started to get wet. It was like walking through a cloud. On the walk we had been using the entertaining audio guide who gave us the storied about the Giant ‘Finn McCool’ who supposedly created the causeway. It was all very amusing and despite the wetness I went off the path to have a photo taken on one of his ‘shoes’ (apparently equivalent of a size 93). Just over half way back the cloud lifted and we started to dry out.
It was now time for lunch and so we went to the cafe and I ordered acceptable hot drinks and hot sausage rolls. Karen now needed a rest and time for some more tablets to kick in. She has carried on like a trooper during the daytime so that we don’t miss too much despite feeling quite rough. Before we left she took a Lateral Flow Test which was negative and her symptoms don’t really match the dreaded covid. It is probably just a heavy cold that she is struggling to shift for now.
Whilst eating and drinking I become aware of the table behind us. It was a rather well dressed gentleman and lady. I ascertained she was visiting here for the first time and he was showing her the sights. It was their accents that intrigued me. There is upper class and there is that really clipped Etonian manor and style of speech. She was the former and he the latter. They were talking about mutual friends who had just become elected hereditary Lords in Parliament. He talked of his great friend Viscount Younger and how well they had both known Martin McGuinness. As they were behind me I tried discretely to take a photo to see if I could recognise either of them. I couldn’t, but at some time in the future I will try and do a google photo search on them just to put a name to them.
Heading back to the car we decided to head back along the coast to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. We knew the bridge itself was shut until next year but thought the setting looked worth a visit. The drive along the coastal route was rugged and yet beautiful. Once at Carrick-a-Rede we decided to try and see if Karen could manage the 1 mile coastal walk to see the bridge. Starting the walk we saw a rainbow just offshore out to sea. She almost got there but there were lots and I mean lots of rough steps at the end to get down to it. So she waited patiently on a bench whilst I investigated further. It amused me to pass a defibrillator on the way down but fully understood why on the climb back up. Whilst to would have been nice to gone over the bridge it wasn’t very long in itself and I had been expecting more. The sea though was a beautiful azure colour all around around the rock to which it led.
We then thought we would carry on a little bit further to Ballycastle which looked pretty enough but didn’t have enough to make us want to stop and park.
From here we turned back to Portrush which was west of the Causeway and where we were staying for the night. Karen was keen to get there, have a drink and some more tablets before thinking about dinner. It was a pleasant enough drive and we came into Portrush past the Royal Portrush Golf Course where the 2019 Open was played (won by Shane Lowry). I looked up the course later, the cost is £240 for a round. You need to provide evidence of a lower than 18 handicap and have a letter of introduction from the captain of your home course. You are also allocated a local caddie who can cost up to another £60 plus tip. I won’t be giving them my custom anytime soon and that's their loss.
As we headed to our accommodation, Karen’s mood dropped further when she remembered I had said it was called a B&B but it wasn’t really one as such. The places we were passing all looked like traditional B&B’s and she was already getting ready to blow a fuse with me.
This all stems from a trip to Canada some years back where we did stay in what were on the face of it a couple of rather nice and up market B&B’s. The first one is remembered for having a strange owner and a weird looking large toy rabbit whose eyes really spooked Neil, who even to this day believes it was evil. The second B&B had 2 adorable dogs. But sadly the property also involved us with an 'incident'. Every family must have their little secrets and this is ours and is never spoken about publicly. It cost me a lot of money to compensate for the water damage 2 floors down....
The very thought of Karen staying in a B&B again brings out her anger and anxiety regarding this, so I was desperate that I had not been mislead with this one in Portrush. The pictures made it look like a motel where we would park outside our own door. It also had the best reviews I had ever seen for anywhere on Trip Advisor.
When I pulled into the driveway Karen was ready to explode. Fortunately as I then drove further in, I could see I was right. It was more like a lodge/motel. Our room itself was absolutely superb and of such high quality finish. There were 9 rooms but we were the only one booked in for the night. A much relieved Karen apologised for doubting me and settled in for a bit. She was however desperate to get some rest so we decided to head out early into Portrush to try and get some food.
Portrush itself is beautifully situated on a peninsula with the sea either side. However whilst it had obviously tried to gentrify itself, there were too many parts still like Gt Yarmouth. We tried a couple of places but they were either full or not very salubrious once we went inside. In the end Karen suggested we just get Fish & Chips and take them back. I knew we had passed a good looking Fish & Chip shop almost opposite where we were staying and so I called in there. I also bought a bottle of red from the Wine shop next door. We ate these (although Karen didn’t manage much of hers) and then as soon as she had finished watching Strictly on TV she was sound asleep in bed.
I stayed up for a while reading my Kindle (The Appeal - well worth a read and done in an interesting way).
Despite Karen being poorly we had done what we had set out to do today and enjoyed it. I’m not bothered about eating out every night and certainly not bothered at all by the fact we have not been to single pub (I don’t count The Crown as we ate there). I just feel sad for Karen that she has not been able to enjoy everything as much as she should have.