Saturday, July 30, 2011

Forests, Fens And Facebook Friends

When we left our intrepid threesome, Daphne, Stephen et moi, it was the end of Day 4 of our tour around the Causeway Coast and now it's the next day, Day 5........which just happens to be July 13th 2011. Get it ? Got it ? Good.

Dawn had broken, fixed itself and was now having some porridge and a cup of tea. We, on the other hand, made do with cereal, toast and bananas.

This was to be a wonderful day, a day of exploring glens, discovering waterfalls and meeting friends from Facebook for the very first time. So sit back and let me tell you the story.....

We left Magherafelt and headed for Logan's Corner on the A26 between Ballymoney and Ballymena. Why ? Well although we were going to Glenariff Forest Park, this was on the route I took many times back in the day when going to my boarding school. I wanted to retrace that trip, or at least most of it, and so a good starting point was from Logan's Corner. We passed through Cloughmills, Clough and Martinstown and once beyond the hamlet of Cargan on the A43, we came to the entrance to the forest park.

Glenariff is one of the Nine Glens of Antrim and if you place your hand face down and then imagine you have 10 digits, the fingers would be the mountain ranges and the gaps between them, the nine glens all sweeping down to the sea. Ok a bit of artistic licence there but basically that's the idea and of the nine, Glenariff is 'The Queen.'

At the end of the entrance road, you only pay a small fee to park and then you have access to several very well signposted walks and we chose the 3 kilometre Waterfall Walk for obvious reasons. We love waterfalls.

The route to the waterfalls was stunning. It started as a lovely wide path with trees, plants and woodland critters on both sides.

Yeah, those were some of the critters I was talking about and here are some more. Well ok, birds actually.

After a while we really got deep into the bowels of the forest and the path became an awesome wooden, fenced deck that took us all around the initial waterfalls. To quote the website, "this path features the waterfalls and National Nature Reserve. There are stairways and pathways cut into the near vertical sides of the gorge and boardwalks on stilts in the river. It is a spectacular walk."

I would agree. The work that went into creating this walkway was clear to see and made visitor's lives a LOT easier, I can tell you.

Then we came to the waterfalls but even if there had not been any, the walk down through the forest would've been worth the car park fee.

By now we had worked up, or walked up, a hearty appetite and lo and behold, we came upon a full blown restaurant, Laragh Lodge. Here we had a much needed sit down and delicious light meal as we knew we had more walking to come. As locations go, Laragh Lodge has to have one of the best, situated as it is at the mid point of the Waterfall Walk and surrounded by forest, streams and waterfalls. A stunning and very welcome eatery.

That was the view looking back at the restaurant and turning around, this was the view the other way. Not too shabby.

We had now seen all the waterfalls on this route and started the steep ascent back to the visitor centre and car park.

While Daphne and Stephen looked for souvenirs, I stayed outside and enjoyed the views from the beautiful picnic area in front of the building which overlooked the forest and led the eye right down the glen to the sea in the distance.

Leaving the park, we rejoined the A43 and drove down the glen to Waterfoot where we met up with the Causeway Coast Road again, the A2. There were stunning views all the way down and although I never really enjoyed them when growing up as they meant I was close to school again, I can enjoy them now.

Now we were on a part of the A2 we'd seen before but it didn't see new things on every trip. We passed round Waterfoot Bay and headed towards Garron Point and my old school but as we were to visit there another day, we didn't stop.

Soon we were back in Daffy's favourite town, Carnlough, and we just had to stop again and yes, take similar photos again. First up is the lady in question about to take one of her many photos of the harbour entrance.

After a short walk around and then ice creams, we left to drive on to Larne to meet up with those Facebook friends, Fiona, JB and Liam. I'd first met Liam on FB as he too went to Garron Tower, my old boarding school. He'd left the year I arrived so we never knew each other but we'd chatted online and that's how I got to meet his sister Fiona and her hubby, JB. Here is a photo of Fiona sandwiched between two hunks.

It was too warm to be inside so we talked and had tea outside on their patio. Fiona and JB have a lovely home and I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you to them both, and Liam, for making us so welcome and we really enjoyed our all too short time with them.

We left about 6:30pm and as it was too early to return to Magherafelt, the consensus was to return to Carnlough and make our way home from there. Actually for consensus, read Daffy bullying us to return. She can be quite scary at such times.

When we got there and parked up, the pre sunset light was beautiful and so.....yes again......we took MORE photos of the harbour. The reflections were very pronounced and I can image the second photo as a jigsaw as it would drive anyone nuts.

Then it WAS time to go home and what a day we had to look back on. The Causeway Coast Road is a must to see and if nothing else, I hope reading these blog posts will give some idea of what it's like to drive its length and visit the area in general.

To be continued..........


Fiona Holland said...

What a fabulous set up you have here Ian. You are a very smart young man and your photography is something else.
It was also a pleasure for my husband John,brother Liam and of course myself to have met you and your friends.
Pity your stay was a short one but perhaps when you return next year we will have more time to spend with you.
Look forward to seeing more of your travels and pictures. You certainly have put Northern Ireland on the map with your glorious pictures and write ups.
Take care and come back soon. Love, Fiona, JB and Liam.

Silverback said...

Thanks for the kind words, Fiona. Hope you keep reading.......

Daphne said...

Bullying? Me? Surely not. Well I just loved Carnlough (yes, and everywhere else too!) - - and your photos show why so you can't complain! It was another fabulous day - what wonderful scenery and it was lovely to meet Fiona and her family too. Great photos and writing too - even though I nearly choked on my coffee laughing at "Dawn had broken, fixed itself and was now having some porridge and a cup of tea."

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Well, when you made a big thing of it being the 13th, I was expecting a catalogue of disasters! Instead we had a wonderful trip! Love the waterfall walk, and that restaurant. I've been wanting to visit Norn Iron for some time and now you've made me want to visit even more. I want to eat in that restaurant!!

Your photos are great. You should definitely make that 'second' one into a jigsaw and give it to all your friends for Christmas!

rhymeswithplague said...

Two hunks of what? That is the question.

IMHO, all three of the Carnlough photos would make great jigsaw puzzles. Perhaps you have a found a new career in retirement?

Another great post!

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