Larrybane, Game of Thrones Location, Co.Antrim.

I took a drive up to a place called Larrybane yesterday which is halfway between Ballintoy (another GoT location, see my posts on it) and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. In fact to get there you have to follow the signs for Carrick-a-Rede and park up in one of the two car parks when you arrive (the first one you come to is for the bridge but theres a another one lower down thats better for Larrybane). The good thing is, Larrybane is completely free to access (the bridge is a pricey £7.50 each but hey, we all know by now that the National Trust is very good at robbing tourists eh? We’ve all become aware of their dodgy Giants Causeway shenanigans) and its really worth investigating – especially if youre a Game of Thrones fan and youve just visited Ballintoy mere minutes away. Larrybane was once a busy old limestone quarry and you can still see the remnants of the works buildings there.  

If you look at the top left corner of the first picture you can see the Game of Thrones set location at Larrybane. And in the second picture the same location yesterday with just my car parked there haha. This site was where Brienne of Tarth was first introduced to the show back in Season 2 (I think).

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Theres a huge sweeping bay below the old quarry at Larrybane and you can actually see the point in the far distance where Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge spans the gap in the cliffs if you look very closely. Its that V shaped cut in the rocks just left of center towards the back of the picture. I have included a close up of it I took below.

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Some of the old quarry ruins that remain. Looking pretty ominous against the cloudy November sky.

The view from the top of the headland is pretty spectacular I must say. It was a reasonably overcast day but some parts of the sandy bottom of the sea were a stunning turquoise blue. The island you see in the first picture is known as Sheep Island. I didnt see any sheep on it (theyd have to be able to swim to get out there) but it has some old folklore history yet its now designated as an area of special scientific interest and human access is prohibited during bird nesting season.

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If you take one of the small trails through the grass at the top of the headland and look over the other side (be careful!), this is the view youll see. Its just as amazing as looking in the other direction and you might just be able to spot Ballintoy Church (which sits at the top of the road down to Ballintoy harbour) near the middle of the picture.

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This was taken right down at the bottom of the cliffs (theres a crumbling old road to walk down) where the rubble and fallen limestone rocks from the quarry festoon the shoreline. You can see Sheep Island again in the background and I expect there may be some fossil hunting to be done down here at low tide.

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This is a zoom in to the V shaped cut I mentioned in the rocks (on the second picture) where Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge crosses over the gap. You should actually be able to see the people crossing it. Its a bit of a walk to get to the bridge and once you do it youd likely not go again, but the walk there has everyone looking back towards Larrybane as the view behind you is so stunning. Personally I enjoyed visiting Larrybane (FREE!) just as much as the bridge. And it didnt have hordes of tourist bus passengers either walking in file to get there 😀

 

 

Ballintoy, Dawn to Dusk. Co. Antrim

Its not until recently that we actually discovered theres something of a hidden beach at Balintoy. We normally just drove down the hill into the car park and walked left along the shore, but it turns out theres a beautiful little cove halfway down the hill which you will find by taking a path that looks as if it belongs to someones house (its doesnt, but there is a house there).

 

 

I took these pictures very early one morning, having left Belfast about 430am. I visited the Dark Hedges first (the only way to get a photograph without people in it) and watched a stunning sunrise, all by myself. Brilliant.

 

You can see the sand is really quite red here, not something Ive seen very often on the beaches of NI.

Certainly worth getting up early for!

 

The second picture here was actually taken on a different day (and is of a sunset at Ballintoy and not a sunrise like these others). But such a great little spot it is.

North Coast Dreams (video) Slideshow of the Causeway Coast County Antrim.

Ive created a little slideshow video here of several pictures Ive taken around the North Antrim coastline. Its my first attempt at this so forgive its amateurish limitations. Locations seen include Castlerock, Binevenagh, Portrush, Portstewart, Dunseverick, Port Moon, Gortmore, White Rocks, and a glimpse of Dunluce Castle.

 

A 2017 Winters Morning. Portrush, White Rocks Co.Antrim

Even in Winter, on the windswept North Antrim coast (which gets a never ending battering from the Atlantic ocean), you can find peace and solitude away from the tourist draws of Belfast. No murals here, no big buildings with sunken ships, no relics of mans past, just a natural sight that hasnt changed for millenia.  

 

Shortly after sunrise on a cold, but beautiful February morning in 2017. White Rocks, near Portrush.

 

Stretching far off into the distance you would be looking towards the Giants Causeway and Fair Head here.

 

Slightly further up the coast from the White Rocks theres a small car park that has a stunning view. In one direction you can look back towards the rocks (and Portrush can be clearly seen) and in the other…. Dunluce Castle sits perched on its cliff top where its seen thousands of sunrises just like this one (click for large pictures).

 

A final view from above the White Rocks where the second biggest sand dune in Ireland towers above the beach as early walkers come out to take advantage of the sunshine.

Port Moon, County Antrim, Causeway Coast

A while ago I posted some pictures taken at Dunseverick Grasslands which involved climbing over the wall at the Dunseverick Castle layby and walking right around the headland there. Its a truly stunning walk and one thats hidden from the road so it can only be accessed on foot. There is another walk in the opposite direction however which is just as amazing towards a magical little bay called Port Moon.

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Port Moon has a long history of fishing going back well over 200 years and from 1830 nets were attached to the rocks offshore to catch Atlantic salmon on their journey to the river Bush for spawning. Crabs, lobsters and kelp were also harvested here.

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One of the crags jutting out into the sea on the walk to Port Moon, clearly showing the hexagonal columns which cover this area very close to the Giants Causeway (less than 5mls away).

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Your first views of the little “Fish House” bothy seen from several hundred feet above Port Moon bay (and yes, you can climb down there if youre brave enough).

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The surrounding area is simply stunning.

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After climbing down the looping path to the bottom of the cliff (it looks much more scary than it actually is, but be careful if its been raining as it can be slippery) you arrive at the old Fish house which now operates as a bothy (a small hut or cottage used as a refuge) which you can arrange to stay at if youre feeling adventurous (see here: http://www.canoeni.com/canoe-trails/north-coast-sea-kayak-trail/access-point/port-moon/ ). The building used to house all fishing operations at Port Moon but had fallen into disrepair until it was resurrected as a bothy in 2011. There are some pictures of the inside here https://www.hikersblog.co.uk/an-overnight-stay-in-port-moon-bothy/ but normally its locked.

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Looking out across the bay from the Port Moon shore. Not bad for a wintery February morning!

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The bothy seen from the opposite side of the crescent shaped (moon shaped) bay.

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Port Moon, a magical little place now deserted and haunted by the ghosts of its fishing past. Its really worth seeing and its very much an undiscovered gem of NI that most residents wont even have seen. Dunseverick Castle may not be much to look at but once over that wall and walking either left or right youll surely be impressed.

 

Autumn around County Down

I’m a bit late putting these up as Winter is well and truly upon us but having found them on my camera I thought Id stick them here as a reminder of Autumn 2016 which has left us for ever.

Picture 1: Queens University Belfast, Picture 2: The Ulster Museum (Botanic Gardens), Picture 3: Palm House (Botanic Gardens).

 

Picture 1: Tree shadows in Botanic Gardens, Picture 2: Yellow tree at Queens University Belfast.

 

Holywood, County Down. Looking over Belfast Lough just after an Autumn sunset.

 

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A burst of yellow @ Ballymenoch Park, Holywood, Autumn 2016

Divis & The Black Mountain Belfast

Providing the back drop for the city of Belfast, Divis Mountain was the filming location for several scenes in the movie “Dracula Untold” and there’s certainly a lot of old history up here. On a clear day there are views of Strangford Lough, the Mournes, The Sperrins, as well as Scotland and Donegal. The area is covered with 1,500 acres of upland heath and blanket bog and its home to a wealth of flora and fauna and archaeological remains. There are several easy walks around the area too with wooden paths and tarmacked routes allowing almost anyone to enjoy the fresh air and greenery above Belfast.

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After arriving at the car park youll see this welcome sign. Entrance is free.

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There are 4 routes around the area. Ranging from an easy 1 mile amble, to something a bit more strenuous (4 miles).

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None of the routes involve any real climbing apart from a stile or two.

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Depending on the time of year, there’s some wonderful bursts of colour up here.

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Which leads to fantastic views over the entire city.

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So next time youre in Belfast for a day or two take a walk across the Divis & Black Mountain trails (theres a cafe for refreshments too – check opening times etc here: https://www.facebook.com/diviscoffeebarn/ )

Portmuck Islandmagee County Antrim

Islandmagee is a peninsula on the east coast of Co.Antrim and in many ways its often disregarded by many in Northern Ireland given that its off the beaten path. Its very much a rural community there although it does house Ballylumford power station which provides Northern Ireland with half its electricity, but hidden away at the north eastern tip of Islandmagee lies Portmuck which really is worth a visit.

Portmuck doesn’t get its name from its hygienic condition, but rather from the old Irish word for pig which was “muc” therefore the label actually means harbour of pigs. A long time ago the area had a roaring trade in cattle, horses, and pigs so it looks like the swine managed to give the place its name (though some say its because the island off shore here looks like a sleeping pig but its open to question). The island is known simply as The Isle of Muck (lol) which was once a hiding place for horses when they were being smuggled across from Scotland by those wishing to avoid excise or having them taken away.  It was also a retreat for a few scamps on the run from the law.

 

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Some information you will see on arriving at the car park in Portmuck. You can read some notes about the history of the place and there are toilets and useful picnic benches nearby.

 

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The little beach at Portmuck and a view taken from the right side hill looking down on the harbour. Really very tranquil and peaceful.

 

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From the hill top overlooking Portmuck bay you can see The Isle of Muck (not to be confused with an island of the same name in Scotland) which today provides the third largest nature reserve for birds in Northern Ireland including kittiwake, guillemot, fulmar and razorbill with peregrine falcons commonly hunting over the island. You can catch sight of puffins, otters, common and grey seals and porpoises offshore too. The only way on to the island is by approaching from the land facing side (seen here).

 

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From the hill top you should see some wooden steps to take you down to the rocks below. I highly recommend you go down. Once there, walk right along the shore until you come to this beautiful white stoned beach. The water is stunningly clear as you look across to the island.

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Made up of mostly limestone pebbles (limestone is quite common along many shoreline parts of Co.Antrim) the beach here is hidden behind the headland at Portmuck and you wont see it unless you go look for it. Many of these stones will contain fossils and you can find them relatively easily if you know what to look for (just like Whitepark Bay https://niviews.com/2015/02/18/whitepark-bay-north-coast-county-antrim/ )

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The limestone beach in bright sunlight really glows and the camera probably hasn’t done it justice here. You might be able to see a line in the water cutting across to the island which is actually a causeway that can be used to walk over at very low tide. I don’t know anyone who’s done it but the old picture here (not mine) clearly shows that its possible when the tide drops low enough: https://i.imgsafe.org/1452c6cf49.jpg its also said that livestock (many years ago) where brought to and from the island this way. I have to say however, I think it looks a lot more beautiful when the causeway is covered by the sea.

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The edge of the causeway.

 

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Just beyond the beach lies some huge green cliffs which Ive read contains a two mouthed cave that may be accessible at low tide. Sadly this was as far as I could go today though.

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At the left side of the beach there’s a small gate that allows you access to walking a path high above Portmuck Bay (marked by this sign).

 

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Once at the top, the view was simply stunning…. 🙂 You can see the Portmuck island just behind the bay.

Portrush County Antrim

I posted (some time ago) a few pictures that I took at the furthest end of the East Strand at Portrush near a place called the White Rocks (named this way because of the colour of the limestone cliffs overlooking the bay) but I haven’t put up any pictures of the actual town area itself. Portrush is undoubtedly Northern Irelands premiere seaside resort with thousands visiting here in the Summer months taking advantage of its two long beaches, amusement rides, and some pretty decent dining too. We visited back in early June this year on a day during the school week, and as you can see the weather was absolutely stunning with very few people there at all – hard to believe, that just a few weeks later, the streets here would be mobbed with families and children. I have to say though, we like it much better when its quiet, particularly in Winter when it takes on a much more melancholy feel yet still retains a wild beauty with the waves crashing onto the shore. Its a great spot for an off season night away and the restaurants here (55 North, The Ramore Restaurant etc) are really excellent and always open.

 

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The iconic old railway station clock in Portrush, constructed in mock Tudor style and standing here since the station was completed in the early 1890s. A grandfather clock which stood inside the old station is now on display in Barrys Amusements (the entrance seen in picture 2) which is the largest theme park in Northern Ireland and hits its 90th birthday this year having opened in 1926. Barrys remains a huge draw for all visitors to Portrush and many have fond memories of visiting there as a child (including me) 🙂

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You might be forgiven for thinking the first picture here is some ocean going liner but it is in fact an area right in the centre of town created for sitting down and having a rest with huge fake masts giving the impression of a ship. If you get the angle just right with your camera the effect is pretty good. The second picture is of Portrushs other iconic landmark, The Arcadia, which is certainly the most photographed location in the town being built in the 1920s. It originally opened as a cafe (which it is today) but became a ballroom for dancing in 1953 and the large complex (now demolished) that once stood behind it played host to many concerts in the 70s and 80s seeing bands like The Stranglers, The Undertones, and Ian Dury play there. I remember the building itself even being a roller disco at one point but I guess I’m showing my age here. I have to say I find the Arcadia enthralling, there’s just something about it. If a building could speak it would have some stories to tell in its 90 years of life, and hopefully it has 90 more.

 

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There are 2 “strands” in Portrush (another name for its two long beaches at either side of the town) one being the West, and one being the East. The East Strand (seen above) regularly wins a blue flag for its water quality and amenities and its 2.5miles of gorgeous white sand and huge dunes (search “Portrush” on the site here to see pictures of those) really could compete with any of the beaches in Europe. Its a wonderful walk out here on a sunny day looking out to the off shore islands of The Skerries. Its not uncommon to see Basking sharks feeding along here too with their huge fins being visible from the beach (don’t be scared though, they’re harmless).

 

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The beach at the opposite side of town (the West Strand) which as you can see from the information sign here has enthralled visitors since the Victorian age. This little horse was out for a walk along the promenade the day we were there. Maybe hes a sea horse. 🙂

 

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Not a cloud in the sky…. A swathe of Portrush guesthouses overlooking the harbour. The second picture here showing the much lauded Portrush lifeboat which has been the saviour of many a poor soul finding themselves in difficulty in the waters around the town. If you look just to the left of the lifeboat you should be able to see the Ramore Restaurant complex which for many years has had a great reputation for good food when in the town – see here: http://www.ramorerestaurant.com/

 

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Portrush….. A great place to visit. Any time of the year.

Whitepark Bay, County Antrim, Panorama View

Ive been a little busy this past month or so as our landlord decided to sell the house we’ve been renting (privately for 5 years) so we had to find another home (arrgh!) Its been a bit of a stressful time house-hunting but we finally found somewhere new and now its just a matter of getting everything packed up to move on. I really wanted to get a few pictures on the site for the month of April however as its almost over and I didn’t want to miss this months entry, so the two pictures below are just a quick post to fill the gap. 🙂

The two photographs below were taken (as always with my trusty compact camera) from the roadside overlooking the beautiful Whitepark Bay in County Antrim. Ive already posted some pictures of Whitepark before (see here:  https://niviews.com/2015/02/18/whitepark-bay-north-coast-county-antrim/ ) but not from such a high vantage point as seen here. The pictures were taken back in June 2015 on a glorious summers day, and basically the first one is looking left from our stopping point on the road and the other is looking right. A truly stunning vista….

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Looking left over Whitepark Bay, you can see the tiny village of Portbradden sitting just beyond the cliffs, and Fairhead is far off in the distance.

 

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Looking right, down to the south end of the bay where you can hunt for one of the many prehistoric fossils strewn along the shore. Whitepark is a beautiful (and almost always tranquil) spot on the renowned County Antrim coast.

 

See you next month….. 🙂