A GIANT FOOTPRINT: EXPLORING NORTHERN IRELAND

It was going to be a long day. Long being the key word.

Starting from Dublin I had planned to travel to the tip of Northern Ireland to see more of Mother Nature’s handiwork with a visit to Giant’s Causeway.

I took part in a tour as it is quite a feat to get to the north from Dublin as well as it being the more wallet friendly option. Plus it just made the whole day hassle free with a fun tour guide taking reigns for the day. I had the freedom to do so much in such little time. Note to future self: allocate more time to explore this enchanting little gem.

If you are not familiar with Giant’s Causeway, let me acquaint you. Giant’s Causeway is an area featuring over 40,000 interlocking hexagon-shaped column rock formations resulting from an ancient volcanic eruption. Its setting is the stuff of mythical dreams as it is located on the coast with the volcanic pillars disappearing into the sea and with a towering, rugged coastline acting as the perfect natural backdrop. Legend has it that an Irish and a Scottish giant were challenged to fight one another from opposing sides of the sea and hence a causeway was built.

Before I could truly enjoy this famed natural wonder, however, I had to tackle another beast, my fear of heights. But at least it would be in the perfect setting, right?

After checking out some of the most unique farm lands I have ever seen – just think countryside Ireland located on the coast and featuring some chilled out coastal cows looking out towards the sea – I arrived at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This bridge isn’t for the faint hearted, and if you do have a fear of heights, well I wouldn’t recommend looking down. That would be a rookie error. Suspended at 30 metres above sea level, the bridge connects mainland Ireland to Rocky Island where you are greeted with views of Rathlin Island (Scotland) and the Causeway Coast.

As I made my way to the crossing gate, the crossing guard for the bridge was trying to point out an iPhone that was hanging off the cliff’s edge. It had been saved from a 30 metre drop into the sea, but there was no way it was ever going to see its owner again. I wasn’t even going to try and look for it along the 30 metre drop! Note to self: don’t attempt a selfie while making the walk over.

Once I finally nailed the bridge crossing (just a mere 20 metres), the sheer elegance of what I could see hit me hard. Wow, amazing, breathtaking….almost every awe-inspiring description you could ever think of. Just imagine you are standing on this little green island high above sea looking out to a neighbouring island with towering green cliffs and farm lands all in your vicinity. I found myself a little rock to sit on and decided to partake in some meditation whilst slowly taking in the brilliant workings of nature along the coast.

I may repeat myself here, but this trip to Ireland was like city therapy for me. It felt so good to be out of the city life, the hustle and the bustle, the stresses of navigating day to day activities and to just let my surroundings soak in. So if you are in need of the above and don’t really feel like sipping on a cocktail by the poolside (although that is also a very attractive and nice option too) then I promise you this will have the same heavenly effect.

Now back on the tour bus en route to this natural holy grail of Northern Ireland.

I was ever so keen to see the Giant’s Causeway. And once I was there, it was better than what I had envisoned in my head if that was even possible. It had it all, rare formations, those towering cliffs I keep banging on about and a mountainous setting. Bliss. It was a tough call to make between the Cliffs of Moher and this part of the coastline, but I have to admit, this was by far the most picturesque part of Ireland I had seen.

By now you probably think of me as this nature nut, but from traveling to a whole bunch of cities and towns in the last year or so, I realised I had neglected to see more nature and sense of happiness it provides.

Of course, on the way to our last stop on the tour there was a pit stop to see Dunlace Castle, a 14th century medieval castle ruin perched upon a hill top overlooking the Antrim Coastline. It is also known to be the most romantic castle in Ireland. Could it sound even more dreamier than that?

The tour was capped off with a whirlwind visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city. I have to admit, I didn’t get time to explore the city as I caught up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in five years and of course when in Ireland, there’s only one appropriate way to celebrate a reunion, and that’s with a pint of Irish cider of course! My friend took me to a grungy, alternative style bar along a side street in the centre of town and it was here I felt like I was in my element. It was the perfect way to cap of an extensive day of sightseeing.

Yes the day was long, but Ireland, you are on top! In terms of the people, the stunning scenery and the positive vibes, no other place compares. You are one of the best to explore by a long shot!

Disclaimer: I was traveling as a guest of Extreme Ireland Tours.

For more information, please see below for the nitty gritty details:

Extreme Ireland