Looked out the window around 7 am and saw a clear blue sky. That is different for Ireland after all the rain they have had.
We got rolling in the morning around 8 and had breakfast at the hotel. Re-organized our bags for hiking and traveling and checked out at the front desk and asked them which train terminal we should go out of for Ballymena. The said Victoria Street Station and called us a cab. We got in the cab and headed over and the driver told us we could have walked just as quick as we were only 5 minutes from the terminal if we had walked. Good news, but a little late.
As luck would have it, we bought our tickets (£14.00 total) and the train was already there an leaving in 10 minutes. So we could board right away.
We headed out a few minutes later and after a few stops going across Belfast, we were out of the city and heading into the country. Lots to see along the way as the rail is mostly above ground with a few sections underground. Very smooth riding and quiet.
We arrived in Ballymena around 11:30 am and called Ian McKay at Limecourt B&B to see if he was around. He was not so we stored our luggage at the station and headed into town for lunch. We walked down a few streets, which had shops along both sides of the narrow street.
Pretty much anything you could want. We purchased some cookies, oat cakes and scones at a small bakery and asked what would be the best place to eat lunch. We were directed to the Adair Arms Hotel. Lunch was very good and they menu varied. Saw a few more things on the menu that we had not heard before.
Gamon – is a thick ham steak
Chips – fries
This is what I had for lunch. Cream of potato leek soup with a chicken sandwich.
After lunch we walked around town again and looked at some very large churches and buildings that were built many years ago.
We then went back to the station, called Ian and he showed up about 15 minutes later. We loaded up his car and headed to Limecourt. Information about Limecourt can be found at www.limecourtbandb.co.uk/
Ian and Linda McKay are the Proprietors of Limecourt
We visited a while with Ian and then headed into Broughshane (town of about 3000) to see the town and to have supper.
The countryside is very pretty with fields separated with rock walls that are now hedges of various sizes and lengths. Cattle farming here is mostly small scale with no evidence of the large feedlots at home.
Broughshane has won a number of awards for being the prettiest town in Ireland and beyond. We could see why when we got there. Here are some pictures of yards we walked past.
We then come into the town proper. Here are some things we saw.
That is pretty much it for this day, some good walking into town, more good food and an uphill walk back. Visited with Ian and Linda for a while and then headed to bed so we are ready for our hike tomorrow across fields, moors and into Glenariff Park.
The hike we are doing was arranged by Southwest Walks Ireland, who conduct self-guided walks or in some cases guided walks all over Ireland. Their website can be found at http://www.southwestwalksireland.com/
For our hike we decided to do a self guided hike, and they take care of working with us to determine what type of hike we want, where we want to go, how many days we want to hike, and what our fitness level or hiking experience is. Once that is all agreed to, they take care of all the arrangements for the B&B’s and also for moving our luggage each day. That way we only need to carry day packs each day and our suitcase is moved to our next nights accomodation for us. We just need to sleep, wake up, eat breakfast, pack up our luggage and leave it by the front door. That evening when we hike to the next B&B, our luggage is waiting for us. A real good service for when you are not familiar with an area, and was also at a reasonable price.
After 12 hours of sleep I was ready for the day ahead. I desperately wanted a cup of tea and got down to the restaurant at the Holiday Inn to the news they didn’t have orange pekoe tea! Chamomile was a very poor substitute and didn’t do anything for my beginning lack of caffeine headache. The breakfast was quite good though. Then off to the train to Balleymena (which is pronounced ballamena by the locals). What a lovely ride on a very clean train. We arrived at the station and phoned our host Ian but there was no answer. So we asked if we could leave our bags at the station while we wandered into town for lunch. They let us put our bags in the office of the bus station. Very accomodating I’d say seeing we didn’t even come in on the bus! Anyway, had a delish lunch with real tea!!! Ahh!
We were picked up by Ian and brought to our home away from home for the next two nights. A very nice place with wonderful hosts. After chatting with him about our hikes, we walked into Broughshane to check out the shops and have supper (always thinking of food). The walk there was really cool. Walking down a country road felt very “P.S. I Love You” – ish. The houses are quaint and most are made of stone. Some very nice landscaping too. (maybe another yard project?). The road was very narrow however, maybe one and half lanes of our roads and cars drive on the wrong side (according to us) of the road so we had to figure out where to walk so as not to get killed! (maybe that’s too dramatic). Anyhow, the walk back helped wear off the beer and sticky toffee pudding with custard, so life is good 🙂
Now off to bed so I’m ready for the hike. Goodnight everyone.