Our weekend in Northern Ireland started well. Nature and Flybe had treated us to front row seats to a magical sunset performance above the clouds, flying from Southampton Airport had been easy, baggage collection at Belfast airport was nice and simple, and we’d picked up our hire car with no drama.
You might think ‘so what’ about the hire car, but having experienced more bumpy transactions in far-away lands (ok, California, Portugal and France), it made a pleasant change to stroll up, say the name and get handed the keys – without a three hour wait or fuss about mandatory breathalyzer kits and high-vis vests.
And so we made our way north. There’s plenty to see in Belfast and one day we’ll no doubt return to enjoy attractions including the Titanic museum, but we were off to visit family and enjoy the north eastern coastline of County Antrim.
Simply put, the landscape is wild and beautiful and quite apart from spending time with some of my favourite people, I was looking forward to getting out with the camera. My poor family. They are all incredibly patient, but I find that when you’re attached to a camera everything slows down and you see so much more. This is what I love above photography, but it must drive my friends and family nuts when they see me wander off and mutter ‘I won’t be 5 minutes’. They know it’ll be 15.
County Antrim is a landscape photographer’s paradise and this is just a taster of some of the ‘must see’ places to add to your list. Places that’ll have you wandering off for ‘just 5 minutes’ – and desperate to return for more.
5 must-see photo opportunities in Northern Ireland
- The Causeway Coastal Route
Starting in Belfast and twisting up and around the north eastern section of the island, this top tip is a bit of a cheat as it takes in so many wonderful places, including the pretty coastal village of Cushenden (pictured above).
Rough, rugged, rolling green landscape, with crashing grey seas. A ribbon of breathtaking photo locations, no wonder the Northern Ireland Tourist Board declares that this stretch of road is rated as one of the top five road trips worldwide. Their useful Causeway Coastal Route map is worth a look if planning a trip.
2. Giant’s Causeway
This totally bonkers place is nature’s way of putting us firmly and squarely in our place. Thousands and thousands (over 40,000) hexagonal rock columns erupting from the surf, all messing with your brain.
Man couldn’t even conceive of creating such a bizarre landscape; the fact that nature made it happen, just like that, is, to my unscientific mind, completely incomprehensible. However, (in my opinion) it’s marginally more believable than the legend that it was built by its namesake, the giant Fin McCool.
Giant’s Causeway is an UNESCO World Heritage site and the new National Trust visitor centre has been sympathetically designed to blend seamlessly into the landscape. It also serves damn good tea and cake, so you can make a real day of it!
If you visit just one place in Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway should be it.
3. Dunluce Castle
The ruins of late Medieval and 17th century Dunluce Castle are dramatically and precariously perched on the North Antrim cliff edge.
The Department of the Environment Northern Ireland (DOENI) have a virtual tour of the castle.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board has more info.
4. Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
I was happy to look at this 30m high and 20m long bridge from afar.
Built for salmon fishermen to reach Carrick-a-Rede and the ice house, the Causeway Coastal Route website has a detailed history of the bridge.
5. Rathlin Island
An island of lighthouses, standing stones, an ancient church, a castle, a colony of seals and the RSPB Seabird Centre (home to puffins, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes), Rathlin Island is a photographer’s treat.
Legend has it that whilst hiding in a cave on the island, Robert The Bruce was inspired by a spider spinning his web – he planned his return to Scotland to fight for his country.
Tempted? You’ll find plenty of really helpful stuff on the following websites. Enjoy! x
Useful Northern Ireland tourist information stuff on these websites
P.S. What did I miss? Add your ‘must-see’ suggestions below…