This was the only day I got up with the energy to go outside and watch the sunrise, but I'm glad I did...it was beautiful.
I always get carried away with sunrises or sunsets.
After breakfast our route continued along the northern coast of Ireland.We can see Scotland from here.
Sheep and cows graze in any available grassy areas.
I think this fisherman was planted for the sake of tourists passing by.
Just some scenery we passed...
A great place for a golf course.
Baa baa, black sheep....Black sheep are considered valuable, so most farmers have at least one.
From this high viewpoint above Portaneevey (port of the caves) we look down at our first stop of the day...Carrick-a-Rede Island, which is connected to the mainland by the famous swinging rope bridge.
There has been a rope bridge here since 1784, helping salmon fishermen gain access to the island. The white cottage or "bothy" is the base for the island's salmon industry, established in 1624, and remains active today through the summer's short salmon season.
The chasm spanned by the bridge is the neck of an extinct volcano, a reminder of the volcanic history of much of this coastline.
Driving down to the parking area where we will get out for that bit of a hike.
Looking down at the clear blue-green water.
Other rocky outcroppings nearby.
Great seabird habitat.
Do you see the kayaks?
This would be a beautiful place to kayak during calm seas.
Heading down to the bridge.
Our group crossing the bridge. You can see Tina in the tan hat.
Elaine, Tina, and Katie on the bridge.
Don't look down if heights bother you.
The sea caves of Portaneevey.
The salmon bothy.
The cliffs have been mined for their limestone.
Exploring the island.
Katie admiring the view.
She took my picture too.
Gulls nesting on the grassy areas of the ledges.
You can see a concrete building related to the limestone mining.
Back across the bridge.
One of the other small islands has evidence of mining too.
Continuing on...more views from the road.
We are approaching the famous "Giant's Causeway." On the way Dee told us the legend about the Giants.
Little did we know Dee would let us out here for us to walk the coastline to the Visitor's Center...about 5 miles away. She would meet us there with the van, haha.
This ruined 16th century stone tower remains from the period of struggles for supremacy between the families of the MacDonnells, the O'Neills, O'Cahans, and MacQuillans. Notice the sheep grazing around it.
Dee walked a short way with us before she left with the van.
She said it was a beautiful hike with some "undulating" hills and dips. We used that word "undulating" a lot for the rest of the trip.
So the myth and legend behind the Giant's Causeway involves Irish warrior Finn McCool and the Scottish giant Benandonner.
The Scottish giant is threatening Ireland.
An enraged Finn grabs chunks of the Antrim coast and throws them into the sea.
The rock forms a path for Finn to follow to teach Benandonner a lesson. Bad idea - Benandonner is terrifyingly massive. Finn beats a hasty retreat, followed by the giant.
Finn is saved by his quick-thinking wife who disguised him as a baby. The angry Scot saw the baby and decided if the baby was that big, the father must be really huge.
The Fish House has been here since the early 19th century. The fishery closed due to dwindling fish stocks in 2002, however it still serves as a bothy for enthusiasts of the North Coast Canoe Trail.
Still smiling....it is a beautiful scenic walk.
With some undulating hills.
Stopping to breathe and notice the smaller pictures.
Some of our group are faster and have gone on ahead.
Stiles to climb over the pasture fences.
They are kindly waiting for me to catch my breath!
Dee asked us to find something that tells something about ourselves along the way. We never did share what we found, but this is mine. When I hike, I do so for the awe-inspiring views of all God created, but I also like to stop and appreciate the intricate, fine, and perfectly amazing details in the tiniest and frailest of creations. It reminds me of myself and my relationship with Him.
Time for a water break.
Here we go a'wandering...
Tina crossing a muddy place.
Wildflowers are everywhere.
I'm breathing again, lol.
Ah, we are nearing the Giant's Causeway, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Those that don't believe the legend of the giants say the Giant's Causeway is the 60-million-year-old legacy volcanic lava. Over 40,000 basalt columns, interlocked. You'll decide.
Our trail carved on a bench. No one wanted to stop and sit...we are almost there.
At least we thought we were almost there...
I didn't see any salamanders.
The first people we've met coming the other way...we must be close!
Oh, it's down there...we can see crowds of people. How do we get down there?
I guess we climb down the cliffs!
We made it!
But Tina and I didn't have enough energy left to climb on the basalt columns.
And our day wasn't over. We still had a castle to see. The ruins of Dunce Castle.
Remains of the town that was outside the castle.
A view of the castle from the town. It was built between the 15th and 17th centuries.
It served to control the land and sea routes of North Ulster.
Notice the funnel-shaped approach to the gatehouse of the castle. It served to prevent a mass approach or attack by enemies.
Looking back toward the town of Dunluce.
First controlled by the MacQuillans who hired Scottish mercenaries, the MacDonnells, to take on other rivals in the 1540s, they were soon overthrown by the MacDonnells who took control of the castle.
The great room of the manor house built by Randall McDonnell in 1620.
A view from the window.
The ruins of the town as seen from the castle.
And some critters that live around the castle. Not sure what kind of bird this is.
On the road again...
A Viking ship in a roundabout.
Entering the Walled City of Derry.
Our hotel for tonight...the lovely Beech Hill Country House.
Site of a U.S. military base in WWII.
The grounds have many trails and beautiful landscaping. We took another wee walk.
Slab in the woods where one of the military huts was located.
Inside was a small museum about that period of time.
And that was the end of a wonderful, very long day. We slept well.