Hi everyone. I’m so delighted to be arriving in County Antrim this week as our virtual tour of Ireland continues. This beautiful county is famed for it’s stunning Causeway Coastal Route with the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway being it’s most visited landmark. Of course in recent years, the region has been in the international spotlight due to the worldwide success of Game of Thrones which was shot in many County Antrim locations. The choice of stop offs in this Irish county is truly endless so I thought we’d take a tour of a few of its lesser known gems.
County Antrim Hidden Gems
1. Cavehill Country Park
We begin in Belfast and Cave Hill Country Park in the north of the city. The park features woodland walking trails leading to the summit of Cave Hill itself, taking its name from the 5 caves located in the cliffs. The imposing summit juts out from the hilltop and is locally known as Napoleon’s Nose. This famous Belfast landmark resembles a sleeping giant watching over the city, inspiring Johnathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels ”. The views up there are stunning, taking in the city below, Belfast Lough and the magnificent Mountains of Mourne to the south.
2. Dunluce Castle
I know we have more than our fair share of castles in Ireland but when it comes to dramatic fairy tale settings, it’s hard to beat Dunluce. Dating back to around 1500, this a true gem on the Causeway Coastal Route. These beautiful ruins are connected to the mainland by a bridge and are said to have inspired C.S Lewis when writing his tales of Narnia.
Glenariff is one of the 9 Glens of Antrim. These are valleys carved into landscape during the Ice Age. Known as the “The Queen of The Glens”, this area is truly breathtaking. Glenariff Forest Park is a walkers paradise where the trails take you by numerous waterfalls and give the finest views of the glen in all its glory.
So next we’re off to the neighboring glen of Glendun and Cushendun. This picturesque village was designed in the style of a Cornish village by architect, Clough Williams-Ellis for the then Lord Cushendun, Ronald Mc Neill. Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre lies just 15 miles out to sea and can be seen on a clear day.
5. Belfast Botanic Gardens
So we end our journey in the calm and restfulness of beautiful garden. The Botanic Gardens are a short walk from the city center in the heart of the Queens University area. As city botanic gardens go, the park is fairly small but beautifully formed. Home to a stunning rose garden, a tropical ravine and a classic Victorian glass house which dates back to 1840.
That’s all from me for this week. See you next time for further virtual travels!
Take care of yourselves and each other,
Slán go fóill!