It’s hard to tell from just standing here where exactly in the world I am. With the rare sunshine hindering my view of the blue, almost transparent ocean which is abruptly cut off with a contract of greens and greys where the sea meets the mountains. The only thing connecting them is the ancient caves once used by fishing men as shelter from the turbulent sea.
From up here it could easily be a Greek Island or the coast of Italy but in fact I’m standing 98ft above sea level on Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge on the North Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. I’ve just travelled here from Dunluce Castle. A medieval ruin that dates back to the 1500’s.
Perched on a cliff edge and said to be the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’ famous novel ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. You would think with the sheer drop that I would be fine standing on a swaying man made bridge with nothing below me but a rocky terrain and the Atlantic to break my fall.
Further on along the coast to the North West is Downhill Demesne. Another rousing notion in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, only this time I’m on a beautiful estate with 360 degree views of the black glen and the eternal horizon. The outhouse, known locally as Mussenden temple is said to be the most photographed scene in Ireland and is thought to have been a library inspired by Italian architecture.
After lunch in the willow garden and tea rooms shared with pet peacocks and a pudding of ‘yellow-man’ made by locals in Portrush I headed home with a belly full of great food and a camera full of unspoilt memories. Memories that take me back to my childhood at the promenade.
The Antrim coast is full of blink and you miss it little opportunities and adventures with a treasure trove of fascinating sites to be explored. A place where it’s acceptable to wear no shoes, where a full Irish fry up every morning for breakfast is mandatory. Where even the rain never spoils these happy days and long nights.