Tuesday 23 January 2018

Making the most of the Causeway Coast

Áine O Donnell

Your guide to the coolest road trip in Ireland right now.

The summer holidays seem so far away so why not treat yourself to a staycation? And there is nowhere cooler in Ireland right now than the Causeway Coast.

You might first think of the Giant’s Causeway but there is so much more to discover along the North Coast. With so much to see, where better for a weekend road trip?

Fuel up the car and pack your bags: the Causeway Coast awaits!

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Day one

Start your road trip with one of the Causeway Coast’s best kept secrets, Mussenden Temple. Perched on 120ft high sea cliff above Downhill Beach, the temple is just a 15 minute drive from Coleraine in Co. Derry. This spot is seriously Instagram-worthy: you can see Donegal to the west then the beach towns of Portstewart and Portrush to the east. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of the Scottish Western Isles out to sea.

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Next stop is Portstewart Strand. The 2-mile long strand on the North Atlantic was the only beach on the island of Ireland to be featured on CNN’s list of the World’s Best Beaches. Take full advantage of the unspoiled golden sands at this time of year: come summertime, it is Northern Ireland’s favourite seaside destination. Don’t miss a chance to see some of Ireland’s tallest sand dunes as you take a stroll along the strand.

On the beachfront sits one of Northern Ireland’s hottest restaurants, Harry’s Shack. This little restaurant has made its name serving fresh and local seafood. What better way to end the first day of your road trip than to watch the sun setting on the North Atlantic while you sample some of the best Northern Ireland has to offer.

Spend the night at Blackrock House, a boutique B&B located between Portstewart and Portrush. While the Edwardian property dates back to 1902, the interior has a modern feel and stunning coastal views. This 5-star B&B is perfect for a relaxing evening and you can look forward to the home cooked breakfast, it’s why their guests keep coming back!

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Day two

Spend your morning stepping in the footsteps of giants. Or at least, that is how the myth goes. The Giant’s Causeway is the jewel in the causeway Coast, volcanic stepped stacks are lapped by the waves of the North Atlantic. Perch yourself on one of the stacks and take in the stunning view. Make sure to drop by the National Trust visitor centre to reacquaint yourself with the story of Finn McCool: the myth behind the magic of the Causeway.

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When you have managed to drag yourself away from the Giant’s Causeway, take the short 15 minute drive to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Follow the 1 km coastal path before you reach the bridge. It is only 20 metres long but that may seem further: it is almost a 30 metre drop to the rocks below. Once you have made it over to the sea stack, drink in the views and check out all the local wildlife like the birds that circle the stack and if you are lucky, you could even spot a dolphin. The only downside? There is only one way back!

After the breath-taking views of the Causeway and the dizzying heights of Carrick-a-Rede, you may be in need of a stiff drink. Thankfully, the area is home to one of Northern Ireland’s greatest exports: Bushmills whiskey. In the town of Bushmills, you can take a tour of the working distillery including the bottling plant. The best part: you get to try some of the distillery’s finest single malts at the end of the tour.

If you want to continue to sample the best of North Antrim, spend the night at the Bushmills Inn. Warm up at the hotel’s famous turf fires then enjoy a drink in the traditional bar which is still lit by gaslight. They even have their own private cask of whiskey for guests. At this stage you are bound to have worked up an appetite: finish off your day by tasting the best of Causeway cuisine in their restaurant. 

Ready for your Causeway Coast road trip? Click here for information and to find out more about the National Trust’s North Coast packages: The Romancer, The Mood Booster and The Invigorator.

Sponsored by: National Trust

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