2014 – Giant Causeway day trip by coach, Northern Ireland day 16

Backpacking to Stranraer, Scotland from 21 May to 26 June 2014 (37days)
Day 16 (05.06.2014 Thu) – day trip to the Giant Causeway (153km) by coach

This morning Alistair dropped us at the Stena Ferry Terminal in Cairnryan at 7am to get to Belfast for the day trip to the Giant Causeway in Northern Ireland. We had earlier booked the tour through Stena Line e-ticket; adult is GBP35pp and senior citizen 29pp. The ferry departed at 7.30am and arrived at Belfast at 9.30am. After the tour the coach sent us back to Belfast ferry terminal at 6.30pm for the ferry to Cairnryan at 7.30pm. Alistair came to pick us up at 10pm.

Our pick-up bus from Belfast to travel inland to Larne and on the Causeway Coastal Route to the Giant Causeway. The tour commenced with ‘one of the world’s great road journeys’ as we drive along one of the most outstanding scenic drives in the world! The road hugs the coastline from Larne to Cushendall and takes in beautiful towns and villages, encompassing the stunning Glens of Antrim.
At the beautiful Stena Line lounge after our tour registration. Waiting for the ferry.

Travel on the biggest ferries ever to sail between Scotland and Northern Ireland, Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII. These sister ships travel from Cairnryan to Belfast in a crossing time from only 2 hours 15 minutes with a choice of up to 6 daily crossings.

At the Taste Restaurant on the 7th floor deck of the ferry.

The Stena Superfast VII is the largest, most luxurious ferry to Scotland providing the best ferry experience on the Irish Sea! Plus, whilst you’re onboard there’s lots to enjoy such as the Pure Nordic Spa, the POD Lounge, The Living Room and Taste restaurant. And of course, there's still free Wi-Fi, free movies, Curious George and our exclusive Stena Plus Lounge.

At the Met Bar & Lounge area.

Ferry facts: Ferry type Super-ferry, Length 204m, Year 2001, Max cars 660, Max passengers 1200.

Stena shopping area.

Cruising out of Loch Ryan

A view of Alistair McCulloch's fishing station at Lady Bay - on the bottom left side.

On our Causeway Coastal Route journey we made many locations stopped to view the breath-taking scenery. We had a tour guide in our coach who acted in the production of the Game of Thrones. If you have been blown away by some of the stunning scenery featured as the backdrop in HBO’s award winning Game of Thrones, then this is the tour for you!  He gave us a good insight of the filming locations about the epic Game of Thrones as follows:

12km past Larne, known as gateway to the Glens of Antrim, that we came across Cairncastle (near the village of Ballygally). It was here that it all began on the windswept Antrim Plateau that Game of Thrones kicked off in dramatic fashion with Ned Stark beheading the Night’s Watch deserter, witnessed by Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy, and the Stark brothers Robb and Bran; and where Catelyn captures Tyrion Lannister whom she suspects of trying to kill her son. When Bran, Rickon, Osha, and Hodor head north to The Wall it is also from the land above Cairncastle that they take a last look back at Winterfell.

Our pick-up bus from Belfast to travel inland to Larne and on the Causeway Coastal Route to the Giant Causeway.

Our bus driver briefing us on the tour.

Driving through Belfast.

The 1st stop of the day was at Carrickfergus Castle. Statue King William of Orange (King Billy) celebrating his landing in Ireland at Carrickfergus Castle on 14th June 1690.

Statue King William of Orange (King Billy) celebrating his landing • in Ireland at Carrickfergus Castle on 14th June 1690.
Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle in Northern Ireland, situated in the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim, on the northern shore of Belfast Lough.

A striking feature of the landscape from land, sea and air, Carrickfergus Castle greets all visitors with its strength and menace. It represents over 800 years of military might. Besieged in turn by the Scots, Irish, English and French, the Castle saw action right up to World War II.

Carrickfergus Waterfront is an area of Carrickfergus situated on the north shore of Belfast Lough, which includes two harbour facilities, several restaurants and bars and promenade areas. The waterfront area is mainly composed of two harbour facilities, a harbour and a marina. Both harbours feature rugged rubble stone breakwaters, absorbing energy from heavy swells. The harbour is a 12th-century Norman harbour, made during the construction of Carrickfergus Castle, built in 1127.

Our 2nd stop was the Archway stone walls along Shore Rd, Magheramorne, Larne - Two substantial stone walls on either side of the Shore Road. The Magheramorne Quarry is behind the one on the left.

An archway, on the northern side of the Shore Road, which led through the wall on the right in to the old cement works and the railway station. Now fenced and closed.

Our 3rd stop was the abandoned Magheramorne Quarry. Game of Thrones movies filmed at Magheramorne Quarry. Castle Black at the base of The Wall, first seen in episode #103 "Lord Snow", was built in an abandoned quarry. One of the quarry walls was painted to look like ice, all of the buildings around the courtyard were built (including several interiors) as well as a working elevator. Blackwater Wall - Stannis's forces come ashore and attack King's Landing where Tyrion helps defend it in episode #209 "Blackwater".

Towards Ballygally beach.

Ballygally Beach is 200 m long and is sandy with seaweed and boulders. There are great views in all directions: northwards up towards the Antrim coast and its dramatic headlands, eastwards across the sea to Scotland, southwards to distinctive Ballygally Head and westwards inland to landmark features such as Scawt Hill and Sallagh Braes where the Antrim Hills Way/Ulster Way goes across.

Ballygally Castle is in the village of Ballygally, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, located approximately three miles north of Larne. The castle overlooks the sea at the head of Ballygally Bay. Now run as a hotel, it is the only 17th century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland, and is reputed to be one of the most haunted places in the province.

Antrim plateau near Cairncastle, County Antrim. Ned Stark knows the Antrim plateau all too well. It was on these rolling hills that he beheaded a Night’s Watch deserter, who warned of strange happenings beyond the Wall.

Our 4th stop was at Antrim Hills Way. The route is in place through permission of landowners. It is mostly off-road through fields which are usually grazed by sheep or cows. For safety reasons dogs are not allowed even if on a lead. Hills are exposed and mostly covered in heather or tussocky grasses. Good footwear and advance preparation are strongly advised.

The Antrim Hills, or the Antrim Plateau are part of a broad band of basalt. Rising to 360m, this upland area descends to form the nine glens of Antrim.

Garron Plateau is covered in blanket bog making it unsuitable for farming or settlement. Down in the Glens, the land is drier, warmer and more fertile making it more suitable for farming, forestry and settlement. Ned Stark knows the Antrim plateau all too well. It was on these rolling hills that he beheaded a Night’s Watch deserter, who warned of strange happenings beyond the Wall.

Our guide who acted in the "Game of Thrones". Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama television series created for HBO by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. It is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin's series of fantasy novels, the first of which is titled A Game of Thrones. The episodes are mainly written by Benioff and Weiss, who are the executive producers alongside Martin, who writes one episode per season. Filmed in a Belfast studio and on location in Northern Ireland.

The breathtaking country side and the farm houses.

Glenarm Castle is the home of Viscount and Viscountess Dunluce and their family. The present castle has been in the McDonnell family since it was first built in 1636. The McDonnells have been in Glenarm for nearly 600 years and the Estate has been in the family for 400 years.  In the house you will see superb examples of Irish furniture as well as portraits of family members from the early 17th Century through to the present day. Before taking up full time residence at Glenarm the family lived most notably at Dunluce Castle.

St. Patrick's Church on Glenarm Bay.

Glenarm Marina in Glenarm Bay

St. Patrick's Church of Ireland and Glenarm Bay

Carnlough Bay.

The epic Game of Thrones was also shot here.

Carnlough has a picturesque harbour on the shores of Carnlough Bay.

Carnlough is situated on the Coast Road beside the North Channel and at the foot of Glencloy, the second of the nine Glens of Antrim.

Our 5th stop was Cushendun Caves – In Storm’s End, or to be exact, the spot where Davos Seaworth and Lady Melisandre landed and birthplace of the shadow baby…these swirling caves are where it all happened.

Cushendun, where we can walk to the caves which were used to film Melisandre coming ashore to give birth to the shadow baby, and then onwards to Ballycastle, birthplace of Game of Thrones Star Conleth Hill (Varys).

The Stormlands, Cushendun Caves. The caves at Cushendun were formed over a period of 400 million of years and are a product of extreme weather conditions. They can be found just beyond this beautiful coastal village next to the Cave House.

Featured Scene in Season 2, Cushendun is where Melisandre gives birth to the shadow baby after being brought ashore by Davos Seaworthy.

Car and coach park area of Carrick-a-Rede.

The bigger Sheep Island is behind of the smaller Stackaboy Island.

Our 6th stop was at Carrick-a-Rede Rope-Bridge (Larrybane). The actual bridge isn’t shown in Game of Thrones, however, the cliffs and surrounding water were used for a vast amount of filming, for example, where Davos tries to tell Stannis what he witnessed in the caves with Melisandre, and where Margaery confides in Littlefinger. Wondering where to find the ancestral seat of House Baratheon: Storm’s End? Head for Larrybane, and the setting for the imposing fortress where Renly resided and Brienne of Tarth was introduced in a ‘tourney’ (tournament). Its a 1km walk to the bridge from here.

I am standing at the viewing platform.

Knocksoghey Sill at the distance.

Knocksoghey Sill at the distance.

Very steep steps down to the bridge.

Carrick-a-Rede from the Scottish Gaelic means the rock in the road. The road is the sea route for Atlantic salmon on their westward journey past Carrick Island. For over 350years, fishermen have strung a rope bridge 30m above the sea to allow them to access the best places to catch the migrating salmon. Crossed regularly by local fishermen, the bridge now presents a challenge to thousands of visitors each year who come to enjoy the same views and high thrills. Those who do succeed in crossing are rewarded with an abundance of plants and wildlife.

Rocky island connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge.

This 30-metre deep and 20-metre wide gorge is traversed by a rope bridge traditionally erected by salmon fishermen. Visitors bold enough to cross to the rocky island are rewarded with fantastic views.

At Ballintoy Harbour.

At Ballintoy Harbour.

Our 7th stop was at Ballintoy Harbour & rocky beach - Hard to believe this sleepy little harbour and beach could transform into the Iron Islands for Theon’s homecoming scene, and some areas around Dragonstone. But the makeover was seriously impressive. When standing on the stone walls staring out to sea, just think that it was at this very place that Theon was baptised in the name of the Drowned God.

Ballintoy Harbour & rocky beach

Ballintoy Harbour.

Ballintoy Harbour.

Pyke, the Iron Islands, Ballintoy Harbour. Ballintoy is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of the North Antrim Coast between the Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. This stunning harbour location has been used for exterior Pyke shots and as the Iron Islands. Featured Scene This picturesque coastal nook is where Theon Greyjoy arrives back in the Iron Islands and where he later admires his ship, the Sea Bitch. This is also where he first meets his sister Yara.

Left is our driver, centre is the giant and me on the right. He is 7ft 8inches.

Our 8th stop was at Giant’s Causeway. Although the Causeway doesn’t feature in the series, it would be a missed opportunity to come to the Causeway Coast and not visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How The Giants Causeway was created: During the Paleogene period, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled rapidly, contraction occurred. While contraction in the vertical direction reduced the flow thickness (without fracturing), horizontal contraction could only be accommodated by cracking throughout the flow. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau which formed during the Paleogene period.

The bar-boy and bar-girl at The Nook Bar.

Our 9th and last stop was at The Dark Hedges, near Armoy, - Nature did HBO location scouts a huge favour when they found The Dark Hedges a striking avenue of arched beech trees near Armoy. In the world of Westeros, this moody trail becomes the treacherous King’s Road, where Arya disguised herself as a boy to avoid capture on the road to Winterfell. We arrive at the Dark Hedges. This scary stretch of road covered in trees was where Arya Stark dressed as a boy to make her escape from Kings Landing.

The King's Road, Dark Hedges - The Dark Hedges is a beautiful avenue of beech trees, planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century. Two hundred years later, the Dark Hedges remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.

Featured Scene The Dark Hedges live up to their haunting name in Season 2. These spectacular trees line the King's Road as Ayra Stark makes her escape from King's Landing. Disguised as a boy, Ayra travels with Yoren, Gendry, Hot Pie and all the others off to join the Night Watch...

As you reach the village of Bushmills you will be lured inland to one of the most photographed natural phenomenon in the region, the haunting (and we mean haunting) avenue of trees near Armoy known as ‘The Dark Hedges’. This is where Arya Stark, dressed as a boy, escaped from King’s Landing in the company of Yoren, Gendry, and Hot Pie. Don’t linger too long, though, as the Grey Lady (a lost spirit from a long abandoned graveyard) is said to appear at dusk amongst the trees.

Departure from the Dark Hedges to travel inland back to Belfast (approx. 6.00pm).

We had fish and chips for dinner in the ferry. Refill for hot drinks is free.

Fish and chips is a hot dish of English origin, consisting of battered fish, commonly Atlantic cod or haddock, and deep-fried chips. Alistair came to pick us up at 10pm.

Click below to view daily adventures:
Day 01 (21.05.2014 Wed) – MH16 KUL/AMS 2355hr – 0655hr on 22May
Day 02 (22.05.2014 Thr) – Amsterdam City, Holland
Day 03 (23.05.2014 Fri) – Amsterdam Zaanse Schans Village (21km)
Day 04 (24.05.2014 Sat) – KL.1477R AMS/GLA 1535hr - 1605hr Glasgow Airport
Day 05 (25.05.2014 Sun) – Stranraer, Scotland

Day 06 (26.05.2014 Mon) – Fishing station at Lady Bay (15km) Loch Ryan
Day 07 (27.05.2014 Tue) – Portpatrick and Mull of Galloway Lighthouse (58km)
Day 08 (28.05.2014 Wed) – Lide supermarket (2.8km) and Museum
Day 09 (29.05.2014 Thu) – Exploring Galloway Forest Park (56km)
Day 10 (30.05.2014 Fri) – Kirkland Fishery Farm in Leswalt (4.6km)

Day 11 (31.05.2014 Sat) – Exploring Galloway Forest Park (60km)
Day 12 (01.06.2014 Sun) – Trekking 20.8km Loch Ryan Coastal Path
Day 13 (02.06.2014 Mon) – A free and easy rest day
Day 14 (03.06.2014 Tue) – To Robert Burns Cottage at Alloway (78km)
Day 15 (04.06.2014 Wed) – Fishing station at Lady Bay (15km) Loch Ryan

Day 16 (05.06.2014 Thu) – A trip to the Giant Causeway (153km) by coach
Day 17 (06.06.2014 Fri) – Trekking 4km Ardwell Pond, Ardwell Bay (18km)
Day 18 (07.06.2014 Sat) – Our ladies went shopping in Ayr (72km)
Day 19 (08.06.2014 Sun) – Visiting Isabelle/Robert in Newton Steward (50km)
Day 20 (09.06.2014 Mon) – Overnight stay at Fishing Station, Lady Bay Loch Ryan

Day 21 (10.06.2014 Tue) – Visited a farm using automated milking
Day 22 (11.06.2014 Wed) – Day 1 of Scenic West Coast Tour, Scotland
Day 23 (12.06.2014 Thu) – Day 2 of Scenic West Coast Tour, Scotland
Day 24 (13.06.2014 Fri) – Day 3 of Scenic West Coast Tour, Scotland
Day 25 (14.06.2014 Sat) – Day 4 of Scenic West Coast Tour, Scotland

Day 26 (15.06.2014 Sun) – Day 5 of Scenic West Coast Tour, Scotland
Day 27 (16.06.2014 Mon) – Allan and Pauline 50th wedding anniversary
Day 28 (17.06.2014 Tue) – Mysterious beach walk at Loch Larbrax, Scotland
Day 29 (18.06.2014 Wed) – Lake Loweswater, Lake District, UK (day1)  

Day 30 (19.06.2014 Thu) – Outward Bound Ullswater, Lake Ullswater (day2)

Day 31 (20.06.2014 Fri) – Return from Lake District (day3)
Day 32 (21.06.2014 Sat) – Our last visit to the bothy at Lady Bay
Day 33 (22.06.2014 Sun) – A farewell dinner hosted by Margaret Modrate
Day 34 (23.06.2014 Mon) – A farewell tea hosted by Vera Little
Day 35 (24.06.2014 Tue) – To Glasgow for a night stay for next day flight

Day 36 (25.6.2014Wed) Glasgow 6am to Amsterdam 8.40//MH17 12noon to KLIA
Day 37 (26.06.2014 Thu) – MH17 touched down at KLIA at 6.20am.



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  2. Thanks for info. Photos again very sharp. Should do an itinerary travel slide jpg show in My for all to enjoy. Very well travel logged. All travelers should do what you did. Would be interesting to see Rotterdam, South Yorkshire if you had passed through, as there are many terrible news coming out of that area/town right now - political correctness had gone really mad.