Everybody on the planet has ‘A place’. Somewhere they go if they are fed up with the world, or if they need cheering up. Or if they simply need a breather from real life and a little inspiration. My place is Castlerock.
Situated on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland in County Londonderry. It has some of the most beautiful coastal views I’ve every seen and an award winning beach with its very own Baywatch style life guards.
One of the main attractions here is Downhill house situated on the Black Glen. This is said to be the 18th Century Bishop of Derry’s ruined mansion and is now owned by the National trust. I’ve been numerous times but just recently found out from a local hostel owner that this building was the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’ book ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’. Originally from Belfast he was brought her to holiday as a child.
Another tourist attraction in Castlerock is Mussenden Temple. Situated 900 feet above sea level on the cliff edge it is very popular with visitors. It is believed to be one of the most photographed scenes in Ireland.
Around the rim of the building reads “Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem.” “Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore / The troubled sailor, and hear the tempests roar.” Inspired by The Temple of Vesta at Tivoli in Italy it was originally built as a library. What people don’t know is this holds some speculation as underneath the temple there is a fort with barred cells.
Hezlett house is another favourite aspect of mine in Castlerock. This 17th century thatched cottage with a cruck structure is situated at the crossroads near the village. Built around 1691, it was originally a rectory or farmhouse and is fully kitted out with Victorian style furniture and attire. It is said to be a near exact replica of how it would have been when occupied.
Downhill forest is nearby, but is off the beaten track. Watched over by ‘Pretty Crafty Tea Rooms’. From the outside it looks like a garage door but inside houses some of the finest local art collection and homemade food. Making your way out the back of the building is a treat as the owner of the building has pet peacocks. These wander around the garden as you enjoy a cup of tea.
Downhill beach is a short walk over the rocks and is over looked by the Binevenagh mountains and waterfalls. Nearby town Portrush is also a beautiful seaside resort and is one of the few places you can actually be in two counties at the same time. With a foot on either side of a road sign, you are happily in Londonderry and Antrim at the exact same time.
Binevenagh Mountains and Views of the Coast
Don’t get me wrong…despite these lovely tourist attractions and pieces of history there is very little else to do. If walking is your thing then Castlerock is perfect for you with miles of sea front and cliff and forest walks. The majority of these are Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. On the other hand if you would rather chill out, relax and enjoy a good book with a view then Castlerock is also the perfect place for you.