Northern Ireland, a Beautiful Country. #UK

Tripoto
11th Jul 2019
Photo of Northern Ireland, a Beautiful Country. #UK by The Foodie Rider

Everyone knows United Kingdom comprises of 4 countries and Channel Islands. The 4 countries being England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Being in England, I had visited Scotland and Wales in the past. So I was thinking of travelling to the Northern Ireland and exploring the country. Since it was a traveler's thought, it did not take me much time to log in, apply a leave for 2 days and book a flight for 11th to 13th July. This time, two of my friends' joined me for the trip.

Day 1

Finally the day comes when we had to take our flight to Belfast. The flight we had booked was from Stansted Airport and was to fly at 7:30 AM. So we started from our place at 4, went to Stratford and took the National Express direct to Stansted. By 6, we were at the airport. the security checking didnot take much time and very soon, we were at the gate.

Waiting for the Lift Off at the Stansted Airport

Photo of Stansted Airport, Stansted, UK by The Foodie Rider

We had a self drive car booked, from Enterprise car rental. We picked up the car and headed towards the first planned point, which was Marble Arch Caves.

The car we hired for the trip

Photo of Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider

Driving towards Enniskelin on the highway.

Photo of Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider

Marble Arch caves are thousands of years old limestone caves which were discovered in the last 120 years, though in phases but multiple explorers and a huge portion of them are still undiscovered. We drove from Belfast to Marble Arch caves, which was almost a 100 Miles drive via Enniskelin. The initial half of this drive was a motorway, which later switched to a smaller road and by the end of the journey, we were driving on the small country side roads. The landscape in the countryside was beautiful. Dense trees on both the sides, roads wide enough for only a single vehicle to pass, it was a nice drive to the caves.

Marble Arch has a guided tour, where a guide takes a group of 10-15 people on a small boating and walking tour within the caves. Through out this ride, they show you the different formations of limestone that prove the existence of these caves for the past many thousands of years. This was almost an hour long tour where we walked 1-1.5 mile within the caves and ended at climbing almost 150 stairs. Though tired, we then headed towards our next (and only) point for the day, which was the Lough Navar Forest view point.

Initial boat ride during the tour.

Photo of Marble Arch Caves, Marlbank Road, Enniskillen, UK by The Foodie Rider

One of the bridges we had to walk during the tour

Photo of Marble Arch Caves, Marlbank Road, Enniskillen, UK by The Foodie Rider

This was almost a half an hour drive from Marble arch caves to the forest view point, through the country side. The roads were small, with high dense trees on both the sides and the deeper you go into the forest, the more mesmerizing the view gets. Since this was a drive towards the view point, it was like climbing up the hill. We stopped at a point almost 1 mile before the view point considering the view from there and two lovely old ladies who suggested me to keep going, Their words were "dont stop here, keep driving, you will be mesmerized to see what you get up there." and it was well worth it.

The Lough Navar Forest View Point

Post this, we headed back to Belfast since we still had to check-in into the place we had booked for stay. While on the way back, we stopped for some food at a subway which actually turned into dinner for us. We reached at the house we booked via AirBnB, checked in, had some tea and headed to our beds. Since we started at 4:00 AM, we thought of ending the day a little early so the next day could be fun.

Day-1 drive from Belfast to Marble arch Caves, View Point and back.

Photo of Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider
Day 2

Next day we woke up and had planned to start our drive at 10:00 AM. We had planned to cover the complete coastal route from Belfast to Londonderry. Since it was Orange Day in Northern Ireland, we were prepared to encounter road blocks at different places at our route because of parades. We started from Belfast and headed towards County Antrim Yacht Club. This was the first point on our drive. Since we had to follow the coastal route, we had these checkpoints marked in the Google Map to keep us on the correct path. We stopped here at this club for some time. There was a small Pier, where we stood and enjoyed the breeze for some time.

The beautiful houses near the County Antrim Yacht Club

Photo of County Antrim Yacht Club, Marine Parade, Whitehead, Carrickfergus, UK by The Foodie Rider

The NI Translink train

Photo of County Antrim Yacht Club, Marine Parade, Whitehead, Carrickfergus, UK by The Foodie Rider

Post this, we headed towards the next checkpoint which was the Torr Head, Ballycastle. Because of the multiple road blocks in the villages on this coastal route, we had to take many detours. It took us almost 3 hours to cover the 60 miles on this. This place was closed off since the coastal area was a private land. We reached there, parked the car, enjoyed the wind since this place was very windy. there were a few remains of a very old castle (walls etc.). Soon, not spending much time and caring about the long distance we needed to cover, we headed towards the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

The Torr Head bunkers

Photo of Torr Head, Ballycastle, UK by The Foodie Rider

The beautiful landscape at the Torr head

Photo of Torr Head, Ballycastle, UK by The Foodie Rider

The view of the sea from the Torr Head

Photo of Torr Head, Ballycastle, UK by The Foodie Rider

The journey to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge was almost a half an hour drive. We reached there and found a cafe. Since we were hungry, we sat down and had some soup with a cheese cake. We spent almost 15-20 minutes in the cafe relaxing. Post which we wanted to go walk towards the bridge and like all tourist were doing, try crossing it. But since it was a long walk and would have easily taken our 1.5 - 2 hours from the tight schedule, we thought of letting it go and start towards the Giant's Causeway, which was the most important attraction for the day.

The hills at which the Carrick-a-Rede bridge is made. Since it is far off, it is not visible in this pic.

Photo of Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballycastle, UK by The Foodie Rider

Post a short drive from the Carrick-a-Rede bridge, we reached the Giant's Causeway. Without spending much of a time, we bought the tickets to the Giant's Causeway and stated walking towards the actual attraction. It was almost a mile long walk that would take you from the visitor center to the actual haxagonal structures that have naturally formed on the ocean bank. We reached there and sat for an hour or so, enjoying the cool breeze and the water gushing into the shore. It was a pleasant experience sitting there on one of the haxagonal structures. I could have easily done that for hours. Soon it started to drizzle and we thought of heading back towards the visitor center where we had our evening snacks of Hot chocolate with Marsh-mellows and cheese sandwich. Post this, we headed towards the car park and started off for out last attraction for the day.

the walk to the Giants Causeway

Photo of Giant's Causeway, Causeway Road, Bushmills, UK by The Foodie Rider

Water gushing into the Giants Causeway

Photo of Giant's Causeway, Causeway Road, Bushmills, UK by The Foodie Rider

the Giants Causeway

Photo of Giant's Causeway, Causeway Road, Bushmills, UK by The Foodie Rider

Close up of the Haxagonal structures at the Giants Causeway

Photo of Giant's Causeway, Causeway Road, Bushmills, UK by The Foodie Rider

The last place that we wanted to visit was the Dark Hedges from the Game of Thrones shoot. This place was preserved beautifully. The road was actually closed for traffic and you could take a walk there, getting a photoshoot. we spent some time here clicking pics and then headed back towards Belfast.

The Gate that leads to The Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges

On the way to Belfast, we stopped at one of the Lidls', bought some snacks for the evening, and headed to the BnB where we had our dinner and called it a day.

Day 2 Drive

Photo of Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider
Day 3

This was the last day of our trip and we had planned to keep it light since we only had half of the day for excursion as we had our flight back to London at 17:30. So we packed our stuff and checked out. Our first place to visit was the Titanic experience center and we headed towards that.

Titanic Experience Center or Titanic-Belfast, is beautiful built museum that actually sheds light on the hardships the workers had to go through in order to build one. The platform from which Titanic was actually launched into the sea still is preserved and could be easily felt. The experience has some of the scenes preserved from the old times. There is an actually cable car kind of ride inside the tour where they show some visuals of people working in different parts of the manufacturing process. It also shows the different operations undertaken to find the remains of the ship post the tragedy.

Titanic Experience Center

Photo of Titanic Museum, West 76 Country Boulevard, Branson, MO, USA by The Foodie Rider

Next in line was the SS Nomadic. This was a smaller ship, as compared to Titanic, which was built by the same shipping company and was used to ferry the passengers from France to the main ships like Titanic. This ship was brought back to Belfast after years and now beautifully preserved and is not only just a great tourist attraction for Belfast, but gives a first hand experience on what the life was like in the yester-years.

SS Nomadic

Photo of SS Nomadic, Hamilton Dock, Queens Road, Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider

Last place on our list for the Belfast (or Northern Ireland) tour was the HBO Game of Thrones Exhibition center which was being hosted in the Titanic Exhibition Center (or TEC Belfast). I am not a GoT fan, but visiting the exhibition and watching the different props, dresses, swords etc gave a good feel for the show.

Props from the GoT shooting

Photo of Game of Thrones Tours (Belfast), Botanic Avenue, Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider

Props from the GoT shoot

Photo of Game of Thrones Tours (Belfast), Botanic Avenue, Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider

GoT Throne

Photo of Game of Thrones Tours (Belfast), Botanic Avenue, Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider

Last we headed towards the Airport where we returned our car and waited at the airport terminal to be boarded into the plane and flown back to London, ending our trip.

The Air Lingus flght that brought us back to London
Flying over the Isle Of Man while on our way back

Day 3 drive

Photo of George Best Belfast City Airport (BHD), Belfast, UK by The Foodie Rider
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