Rope Bridges And Rock Blocks

Greggs must be doing good trade out of us. Maybe that’s why they tolerate us being the first people there in the morning and brushing our teeth in the bathroom. After another bacon bap we got a local bus along the coast to do some touristy sight-seeing.

There were two main places we HAD to see being in this part of the world. The first was the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. A short walk across the top of some high windswept cliffs looking out to a steel blue choppy sea lead to a rocky outcrop of land. This formed a sort of island, literally just off the coast. So close to the mainland that a 60 ft rope bridge spanned the gap. The nearly island is the only way down to the beach at the bottom along this stretch of coast and was used by fishermen till very recently.

On their long migratory routes, the fish didnt fancy going the long way around the nearly island,, battling the currents so swam through the small gap between the mainland and the nearly island. I say “nearly” island because it is so close to being an island, i mean there is a sand bank between the bits of land and rolling waves crash into eachother through this gap. The water, about 100m below us on the bridge, can only have been a meter deep at its shallowest point, you could definitely have walked it, maybe on a calmer day.

The fishermen learned to take advantage of this shortcut and set nets at this aquatic choke point. The fish they caught sustained the industry till as recently as 2006 when the last fishing was done. The fish had gotten smart to the fishermen and no longer use the short cut. Obviously the word was out, the shortcut was certain death and they decided to take the long route around the island. No more fish take this route now which is a shame and evidence of how mankind is once again, literally influencing natures course. Hopefully, now the area is protected, some plucky young explorational fish will find its way through the gap and be first to the breeding grounds. Maybe a new generation of fish will find the gap?

Back on the bus we headed to the next major attraction on this stretch of coast, the Giants Causeway. We had a train to catch back to belfast so this had to be a flying visit, I mean, how long do you need to look as a few funny shapes tessalating rocks?

Well it was spectacular and i took so many photos. Turns out i could have easily spent another couple hours walking around exploring the formations and finding beautifully alien scenes. For some exceptionally interesting geological reason, which I wont go into here (partially because I don’t know or understand) the rocks have grown and cracked into perfect hexagon columns pointing vertically out of the earth. Like some sort of crazy paving company that had gone a bit mental, the hexagon rocks formed digital edged waves of steps rising and falling like the waves next to them.

As demonstrated the similes and metaphors just cant do the scene justice. Its a strange alien landscape that you simply must see for yourself. Unfortunately to get the train we had booked we had to march down the hill to the coast, take our photos and then march back up again. Panting as we got to the bus stop, we just made it in time. If we had missed this one, we would have missed the train and missed saying goodbye to Howard. Luckily we didn’t and we did.

Enroute to Belfast, we booked a well rated Hostel in a small dormatory – i was not going through that huge dorm fiasco again… I also dont think many people would put up with how we smelt after only having a shower in a can (deoderant spray) for 3 days. We got lucky and our room even had an ensuite which was the first thing we used when we arrived. The accumulated grit of the last few days sluiced off me and left a brown ring of grime around the shower tray edge. That was grim but I felt so much better for it.

It was early and we had experienced a lot the last few days so headed to a local pub for a couple pints. Its was completely dead in the pub, but then it was a sunday evening. After accidentally correcting the Irish landlord and ordering a golden “eel”, we got chatting to a young couple that turned out not to be a couple at all.

The lad was gay and who we supposed was his girlfriend turned out to be his brothers ex girlfriend who had become a good friend in the process. They had sunk a few pints like us and suggested going to a gay bar, which, in our alcoholised state we thought was a great idea! As tired as we were, as soon as we were in, we got a second wave of energy and stayed out wayyyyyyyy too late and did shots of stuff that made us regret it the next day. It was an excellent night and the perfect last night in Belfast.