Well we woke up to drizzle this morning and have an 8 mile (13 km) hike to do along the coast towards Ballintoy. We had a lighter breakfast as we just can’t eat the full breakfast each day. We packed up our bags again, and put them in the foyer downstairs before going for breakfast. While at breakfast Chung and his daughter Monica (whom we met yesterday) came in, and we found out that they couldn’t do their whole hike the day before due to low cloud and mist. We think they missed the best part of the hike. They are walking the same route as us today.
We left the town of Ballycastle and headed out on the highway.
As we geared up, Connie said she was putting on her rain pants as it was going to drizzle all day. I didn’t realize they were her smarty pants, and an hour later I had to put mine on too. But at least I held out for an hour. The directions were not so clear at some points during the day, but mostly we followed the B14 road along the coast. The drivers here all think they are Mario Andretti, and drive their small cars rather fast along all the roads, creating a hazard for anyone walking – good thing there are so few of us. We constantly had to step up on the grass or rocks at the side of the road as they really do not move over very far. The bus coaches were the worst. They hog the road anyway and frankly I don’t think they should even be on this route.
Our first detour of the day was onto a small grass side road, that the sign pointed to, but we weren’t sure of. So we went down it anyway and passed a small hamlet of about 10 houses, and came back onto B14.
Our next detour was to watch for a sign that said Kinbane Castle.
We didn’t find one, but went past a road that said Kinbane Head. We walked to the top of the hill past it to see if there was anything there and found nothing, so came back to the corner and started walking towards the coast. This is not really part of the hike, but a side trip if you wish. When we got to the end of the road past a few houses, we came to a parking lot with a sign saying parking for Kinbane Castle. We are long ways up from the water still. So we headed down the steps, down some more, around a corner, down some more, while seeing parts of the collapsed castle as we walked down. The views were unbelievable of the coast line on both sides. A couple of waterfalls were going all the way down the cliff faces.
We finally arrived at the bottom, and met a young couple out for a weekend vacation. They lived just 2 hours away and had never visited this part of the coast. We had plenty of time to investigate, take pictures and wander around this amazing site to experience the area first hand.
We walked out along the peak as far as we dared, as it was getting slippery and was very narrow.
We didn’t want to swim with the fishes, so stopped at the point we felt was safe. We then went down to the beach area and walked along the shore before heading back up the hill. You knew that was coming – right? To keep things interesting I counted steps. There were over 140 steps plus the areas that didn’t have steps, making it quite a climb.
When we got back up to the parking lot, we had a quick bite at the picnic table in the drizzling rain, then headed back to the highway. This castle is likely one of the coolest things we will see. It was pretty amazing to see where they built their castles, and sometimes you wonder how they brought supplies in and travelled about. There were no stairs or roads built then.
More curves, hills, fast cars and buses brought us to a couple of lookouts, where we couldn’t see too much due to the mist, but we could see the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge vaguely from one area. With another mile to go, we headed down the hill and turned into the road leading to the bridge.
We paid our fare, walked about 20 minutes along the trail, met a few people who said it was scary (wanted to push them over the edge for that advice), and then we came up to the bridge and waited in line (very briefly thankfully) for our turn. Connie was not too impressed and was pretty quiet as we waited. We walked down the final steps, I went part way out, and took her picture at the start of the bridge.
She then walked close behind me watching my back as I went across. I was clicking pictures over the edge as I went across.
Once across she needed to sit for a few minutes, as she came to realize she did just walk across (that was a major feat). We went up the hill to the top of the point to see the views and walked around a bit before we headed back towards the bridge.
As we were heading back, they were putting ropes across the path to stop others from going up to the summit. Not sure why, but we at least got the chance to go out to see the views. On the way back to the bridge, we had to wait in line, and as we looked over the fencing, we could see large fish in the water below. Apparently puffins were there earlier chasing them (not for fun I expect). It was then our turn to cross the bridge, so we waited till others were off, then walked across.
The young girl in front of us decided she would bounce the bridge before she got off, which went over real well behind me as you can imagine. Once across, we started the long climb back up towards the parking lot. By the time we end our hiking vacation, we will have the biggest leg muscles going. They will be a waste in the Prairies of course, but that is life.
We stopped for some soup and tea at the Tea House by the gate, then headed along the coastal walk towards Ballintoy. We arrived there in short order, walked through the Catholic church yard and looked at more tombstones, then continued on to the town, as the drizzle stopped. A short stop at a gift shop secured a nice ring, a Celtic plaque and a difficult talk with a non-communicative owner. 5 minutes after leaving there we arrived at our B&B, the Ballintoy B&B on Main street.
It was built in 1737, and has the sloping floors to prove it. Smaller room than last night, but nice and clean. Changed out of our wet clothes and went for supper at the Fullerton Arms Restaurant. Another good meal after a long day. Don’t imagine this will be a long night. No internet, so we are writing what we can for the blog and will copy it in with pictures when we do get to a place with internet.
Tomorrow is a 16 mile (23 km) hike to Bushmills – yes the place that first started making whiskey in Ireland (legally at least).
and from Connie
Well, I survived the rope bridge! It was really scary. All the way there I was thinking to myself “what the @#@! am I doing? Barry was kind enough to say if I didn’t think I could do it I didn’t have to but I made a deal with a friend that if she went up the statue of liberty I would do the bridge. (I didn’t think she would do it:( ).
I watched Barry’s back the whole way across and told him to slow down if he got too far ahead. Just after crossing, jelly legs set in and I had to sit down.
Tried not to think about having to go back over. I did get a certificate stating that I crossed the bridge as I will likely NEVER do that again!
We had a great bowl of soup with something called Wheaten Bread (that I am quite enjoying). It was especially satisfying due to the damp weather. Bought a few souvenirs and then we were on our way again. Something else that is quite unique here is building with public toilets. Flush toilets and running water. We could learn something from the irish. The walking has been going very well. Yesterday was a shorter day. It’s nice to have them now and again. Ireland is filled with history and rugged beauty. We spent alot of time at the castle and that was very cool!
You can’t help but wonder at how the people lived back then. The hardships they had to go through just to survive let alone defend themselves at all times!
The weather yesterday was rainy and misty, but this only adds to the mystical feel of the Island. My prediction for an all day rain came true and my buddy had to concede. Once suited up in our rain gear we can go anywhere!
Other than the danger of cars yesterday we are very safe here. Most times we don’t see anyone else as we walk and it is very quiet. It is however, nice to meet up with Chung and Monica. Friendly faces along our journey.
A long day tomorrow so I’m signing off.