Saturday, April 21, 2007

Carrick-a-Rede, Dunluce Castle, and assorted other shinies

Well, another lovely weekend here at the Corrymeela centre in Ballycastle-- I'm going to miss this place. Today, we headed off along the beautiful Antrim coast.

Our first stop was Carrick-a-Rede, a tiny island accessible only by rope bridge. The bridge itslef is much shorter, safer, and lower down than most of the guidebooks suggest-- as I understand it, it used to be far more impressive (or harrowing, depending on how you look at it) before it was rebuilt with safety in mind. But there are views from the island that you simply wouldn't believe. Pictures don't really do them justice, but I took several, so watch this space.

After that, we stopped for lunch and then headed on to Dunluce Castle, which is a remarkably well-preserved ruin when you consider that parts of it date back to the thirteenth century. It, too, is set on an island, but this one's acessible via a nice, sturdy stone bridge. During the Jacobian era, the MacDonald family built a manor house into the sight and extended the buildings onto the mainland to make more room for their many visitors from the Scottish court.

The whole thing's in ruins now, but you can tell how impressive it must have been in its seventeenth century heyday. A cavern running underneath part of it opens right up onto the sea. Another tonne of photos from there should be available soon.

On our way to Dunluce, we stopped at a tiny church that's supposed to be one of the oldest and smallest in Ireland (that claim is quite disputed; some will tell you it's actually less than thirty years old). It's tucked away in a tiny village under a cliff by the sea. After we left Dunluce, our busdriver took us down a lane lined with trees more than four hundred years old. It's been a day for the pretty.

Tonight, we're going out to a nice restaurant as a group. Because our programme director's just cool that way.

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