Ireland Day 7 – how many hills are in Ireland anyway????

Well, once the noise died down downstairs (Saturday night in Ireland), and the partyers came back from the bar (after 1 am), it got real quiet – even though our room was on the street side, and the highway goes right through town.   Traffic died down to nothing and there were no cars till about 6 am – but like at home I was awake anyway.

Date our B&B was built

We had decided to have a full breakfast due to our long walk today (15 miles or 21 kms plus 2 more miles to get to B&B), and it was a good thing.   We were walking along the coast so did not go into any villages, or see anyone actually.  A nice way to spend fathers day in my opinion.

The views along the first part of the hike were much more spectacular than the afternoon -not that they were bad, just not as good.

We left Ballintoy and headed towards the harbour to get back on the trail we left last night.

Ballintoy Harbour

This would be a day of walking on beaches, across rocks, up and down bluffs (many of them sheer drop off escarpments), while facing a very brisk wind (the higher you go, the stronger it is).  We wore our hats early on, but then took them off as we were going to lose them.  We had our hoods up, but they were blowing so much, and so noisy, they didn’t last long either.

The first part of our hike was a very long beach,

Beach heading to Portbradden

Jellyfish on beach after tide went out

followed by climbing over rocks as we approached Portbraddan.

A "rock beach" at the end of the sand beach

Along the way we saw a number of caves as well as worn away rock in many shapes.  The waves were crashing along the beach and over the rocks and occasionally the water decided to come up high enough to surround our feet – good thing for Gortex again.

Cave we walked thru on trail

Cave along trail

Inside a cave

After climbing over the rocks, we passed beside a few houses on a private drive with an amazing view of the ocean and coastline.  Didn’t see anyone around, but the view was super.

View from house

We continued along the coast, crossing bays, up and down hills and came to Dunseverick Harbour which had a few boats, toilets and one house.  A short ways past this (yes over more hills and windy ground) we came to the ruins of Dunsverick Castle.  This was once a very important castle and looked rather large, but there is lots of it that is no longer standing.

Corner of castle wall

We had thought there might be some food available here, but that was not to be so we continued on.  At this point we were walking about 3 hours.

We followed the grassy path on the other side of the castle ruins (which are on an island) and continued across the headlands. After passing Portmoon (no buildings that we saw) we climbed up and down, and up and down a number of ridges and cliffs till we came to the highest peak, Hamilton’s seat.

Hamiltons seat

Nothing special other than it was higher than all the others – but maybe that made him King of the Castle or something.  Certainly the views were impressive.
Even though this was the highest point, we did not have a path that led down towards Giant’s Causeway, but rather more down, up, stiles, down, up and then finally level as we went behind the area where Giant’s Causeway was.

Columns of Basalt like at Giants Causeway

Basalt spires along coast

Stones at Giants Causeway

We looked at the sign that said 162 steep steps down, looked at each other, looked at the sign, looked at each other – and said na – lets go towards the car park and see if there was a road down to there.   We have done way more steps than that already today -that is down and up – so let the tourists in their sandals and running shoes do that part.  The view from up above was not as nice as what we had walked over all morning – now we are scenic view snobs right??

So we walked along, past the car park, and found a restaurant called the Nook, which had good Irish Stew, BLT sandwiches and tea of course.  They also had a peat fire there (it was so cold out you know) so we had to peel off a bunch of our gear as it was too hot, but it looked real nice.  After filling up, we walked down the side of the road to the bottom and saw the same dolomite pillars we had seen back a ways on the trail – those ones were two layers of 100 feet each.  Oh well this was one of the sights that caught our eye in the first place when we decided to come here, so we climbed across the rocks and took pictures.   They are actually quite cool close up.

Giants causeway stones

After looking at everything down below, we talked about taking the bus back up – it only cost 1 pound.  I decided I would save the pound and head up the hill while Connie waited for the bus -don’t blame her for that.   I joked that I would be the guy running up the hill – I didn’t actually run up – but I did beat the bus by 2 minutes.   I was waiting at the gift store and we looked around there a bit and she found me an Celtic ring for our anniversary.  It’s really cool.  So with that in hand – actually on my finger, we headed out for our last leg.

By now it was around 4 pm, so we called our B&B to just let them know we would be late.  If we don’t give them a call by 6 pm and have not arrived, apparently they come looking for us.  Didn’t want to end up on the local news.

After leaving the Causeway, we had another 3 miles to go to Portballintrae where we figured we would look for a place that had WiFi and maybe a bit of a bite to eat.

This is actually a private residence between the two towns

The is the guest house

Our destination is Bushmills which is 2 miles further on, but many of the stores etc around here close at 6.  We are not happy people if we go to bed hungry.

We followed the trail along a miniature railway towards Portballintrae and took the side path along the river, crossing a couple of bridges and arriving at the Parking lot at the Harbour.

Trail along railway

Train on rail between Causeway and Bushmills

Bush river

Bushmills railway station - seriously

A trail game to play when you can’t do red car, blue car

Taking a picture of Connie on bridge over Bush River ....

taking a picture of me, taking a picture of her

We then went to Sweeney’s Bar for supper and it was a real cool place with lots of wood inside of a well decorated downstairs and upstairs rooms.  Had some use of their WiFi but the speed was real slow (way faster than no speed of the last two nights though), so we did a bit of email, posted one day’s blog and headed out.

Walked along the road to Bushmills Distillery and on to our B&B.

Tower in Centre of Bushmills

Bushmills Distillery

We stopped at a small grocery store to check their hours (we won’t miss out on lunch tomorrow) and saw they had a Tim Hortons machine inside.  Couldn’t pass that up.   We each got a coffee, headed up the road and found Lismar B&B.

Our host Hugh Graham is a really nice guy who has maybe the best rooms we have had so far.  They are upstairs and have skylights in the main room as well as the bathroom.  The shower faucets are the most amazing I have seen yet, and it is too bad we can’t get them in Canada.

That is pretty much it for the day – have been catching up on blogs since.  Had another tea of course.

and from Connie

After a much needed and really good sleep last night, I was all set for another really long day of hiking…or so I thought!  We had a big breakfast to fuel us up for the day.  Good thing too cuz we had no lunch with us and few snacks!  We thought there would be a spot to buy lunch along the way but the leprehauns kept moving the trail I think.  We left Ballintoy about 9:30 which was probably a little late for the day ahead but live and learn.  We got to walk along the coast alot of the day and that was really neat.  It was really good to see Barry among the rocks and shells along the coast.  He was in his glory. 🙂 This Father’s Day will be hard to beat.

Barry playing

I love seeing all the different houses as we walk.  I wonder what life must be like here.  Some places along the coast are very isolated and wild.  It would be ok for awhile but would the isolation get to a person?

This was a day of ups and downs…literally!  I knew as we walked down to sea level there was going to be payback and boy was I right.  After walking (carefully) over large boulders for a stretch we came to an easier path. Whew! This part of the trail was fantastic for taking pictures and thankfully Barry takes alot.  This allows time for me to rest.  ha ha.  We went up many hills, not as steep as the other day in the forest, but hills that seem to go on forever.  Just when I thought I couldn’t take another step we were at the top and the view made it so worthwhile.  The steps going up the hills are another matter.

Just one of the many sets up steps to go up

Not fun but necessary.  We went up higher and higher and as we neared the highest point the wind was very strong.  Very wild and a little scary.  We worked our way down to the Giant’s Causeway and looked at the steep steps going down and were actually debating about going to see the rock formations that were the reason we chose to hike in Northern Ireland.  We walked past and after a little while we found a restaurant and enjoyed a good meal there.  Food made our heads work a little better and we knew we had to see the causeway.  We walked down and spent time there.  An absolutely amazing place (among many).

Barry climbing over rocks on Giants Causeway

I was thinking as we were once again walking down that it wouldn’t be much fun walking back up.  So I wimped out and got the bus back to the top for 1 pound.  This was a very good decision on my part.

At the top we stopped at a gift shop and I bought Barry a Celtic ring.  We have been married 35 years this year and the design on his wedding band was wearing out.  This was a perfect time and place to get him one that will last many more years.

Another few hours of walking and we found our B&B for tonight.  This is the nicest one by far!

Lismar B&B Bushmills

Inside Lismar B&B

I like this experience.  Our ritual at night is balling up newspapers and putting them in our boots to absorb the dampness from them.  Seems to work well.  Our friend along the way, Monica, put her boots in the dryer at the first B&B and the boot came away from the sole so she had to go to Ballymena to buy new boots.  Not good walking in boots you haven’t broken in.  She’s unfortunately suffering from a blister.  I feel for her.

We had a nice surprise when we walked into a grocery store here…there was Tim Horton’s coffee.  It came out of a different type of machine but it still tasted like Tim’s.  Nice way to end the day.

Anyway, time to go pick out my wardrobe for tomorrow – ha ha.  Another long hike tomorrow.  This has been a truly fabulous way to see Ireland!

About trailsandtrips

I am a consultant in the forestry and environmental fields and spend my recreational time in a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
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