of Outstanding Natural Beauty" -- official designation of the Antrim Coast
June 19th & 20th, 1999:
We've decided we need to work on our touring timing. The weather in Belfast was beautiful the day before we left and we spent it inside working on our computer. The day we toured the Antrim coast the weather was lousy.
Dark rain and whipping winds kept us crawling in our green van as we struggled up 15% grades and around hairpin turns.
In the end we decided to stop at Ballycastle and save the rest of the coast for the next day.
The next day we were glad of our decision.
The locals appreciated the better weather too. We learned that three of the Top Ten rated golf courses in the world are on the tiny Isle of Ireland. (Look carefully and you'll see the 15c friary ruin hazard in the background).
We hiked along the coast from Ballycastle to Corrymeela. They had a retreat going on led by Native American Indian chiefs and were preparing for 100 foreign students, some from Serbia and Kosovo.
The building to the left is their Crei (meaning 'heart' in the Irish language), of center of worship. The curved room inside has the magical property where one can clearly hear words whispered. from across the room.
We saddled up in our van and drove westward. On our way to the Giant's Causeway we found the lowly but lovely castle Kinbane.
It's a drop of almost two hundred feet straight down those cliffs. We wondered how knights ever got their horses to and from their castle.
Perhaps the view was worth the commute?
These little castles litter the coastline. Every major family had to have one and had to try with all their might to tear down their rival's. Hence the ruined nature of them all.
Another half hour and two weather changes down the road, we found the Giant's Causeway.
The UN designates sites of natural heritage throughout the world. Things like the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China get this distinction. The Giant's Causeway is the only site in Ireland on this list.
Legend has it the giant Finn McCool built a bridge to Scotland to challenge his rival across the sea. But when his rival showed up, he was much bigger than Finn expected. So McCool dressed up as a baby and had his wife rock him in a giant cradle. When the rival saw how big the son was, he fled in terror of the father, smashing the bridge as he went to prevent pursuit.
Today the Causeway feels as if one is climbing on a giant set of petrified Lincoln logs laid on end.
We had to shelter from the brutal rainstorm that whipped inland while we were there. A half hour later and it was gone, blue sky returning.
We met some other Americans there who climbed up the 40 foot tall hexagonal stones.
We're sure he felt like a giant on top.
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