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Blog Ireland Trek 2011

Blog Ireland Trek 2011

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Published by Martin Williamson
Walking from the north coast of Ireland to the south coast. May 2011
Walking from the north coast of Ireland to the south coast. May 2011

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Published by: Martin Williamson on Jun 26, 2011
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06/26/2011

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Kim & Martin’s Ireland trek 2011.
Hello readers it’s the tired trekker here again with more tales of damp dawdling; thistime in the Emerald Isle.As part of our mission to walk across or all the countries of Western Europe, Irelandhad to be conquered. To be honest we had left Ireland well down on the listsupposing it was going to be somewhat drab but we were pleasantly surprisedmainly due to the warm welcome we received from the locals.Our definition of walking across is getting somewhat flexible now so we don’tnecessarily chose the longest route, but not the shortest either. Ireland has it’s ownversion of Lands End to John o Groats, namely Malin Head to Mizzen Head. Thiscan be achieved by staying in the Republic of Ireland and not venturing into theNorth at all. This sounds strange but Northern Ireland should be called North EastIreland because the Republic of Ireland continues all the way up the west side of theisland to the most northerly point (Malin Head). We wanted to visit ‘Northern Ireland’and we wanted to visit the ‘Giant’s Causeway’ so we decided to start there. The endpoint was going to be the sea somewhere near Cork.As ever our route plan leaned towards a straight dash from A to B with the onlydetours being made for accommodation. Many people had told us about howattractive the west coast was but a cursory glance at the map reveals that anyattempt to follow the coast would turn a 500km walk into a 1,000km slog.This dilemma was solved when we discussed our plans with friends Andrew andVicky who were planning a golf trip around the same time. With a little adjustment wewere able to target our end date to coincide with their last golf day and then spend afew days on the west coast in the comfort of their car.Getting to the start point of these treks can sometimes be a logistical challenge butgiven that the Giants Causeway is such an attraction we managed to make it in threelegs from Geneva.There was no direct flight from Geneva to Belfast (outside the ski season) so welinked two Easy Jet flights via London Gatwick which put us in Belfast on the lateafternoon of Sunday May the 1
st
. We had already checked the bus service to WhitePark Bay just east of the causeway and by chance our hotel was 200mts from thebus station.The taxi driver from the airport was our first taste of the Irish hospitality and he wasplease to throw in a commentary on the geography of ‘The Troubles’ as we arrived intown. It took virtually the whole journey to full understand what he was saying as the
 
Belfast accent takes some getting used to. The marching season had just startedand as we saw a Parade making it’s way along the road the taxi driver revealed hisreligion by telling us ‘he would not be welcome anywhere near the marchers’. As wearrived at the hotel he gleefully announced that the neighbouring hotel (Europa) heldthe title of ‘most bombed hotel in the world’, but assured us that was all in the past.We managed a quick stroll around Belfast centre which is nothing to write homeabout but seemed to be bustling with activity even on a Sunday afternoon.Kim managed to track down an Indian restaurant recommended by the taxi driver sothat satisfied her curry fix for a while.Having checked the bus timetable we knew that we had to be at the bus station intime for the 9:10 bus via Ballycastle to White Park Bay. Fortunately we gaveourselves plenty of time (despite the fact that it was a holiday Monday) because theBelfast Marathon was that morning and eager marathoners were pouring out of thebus station. Once underway we had another tour of the city as the bus negotiatedthe back streets to avoid the road closed for the marathon route.The number 217 bus to Giant’s Causeway via Ballycastle takes a scenic route alongthe coast for much of the journey, but on the moorland section before Ballypatrick wesaw the bushfires that had been triggered by weeks of dry weather. It was too muchto hope that the dry spell continued. We hoped off at White Park Bay wanting to takein about 10km of the coastal path before we arrived at the Giant’s Causeway.The weather was cool but sunny with a strong breeze coming from the south east aswe started out on the sands of White Park bay heading west and climbing up to thecoastal path.
 
We didn’t see too many people until we cleared the headland before the Giant’sCauseway then the crowds suddenly appeared.The causeway is a strange sight with columns of rock which look individually handcarved rising out of the ground. The formation was the result of rapidly cooling lavaflows which erupted in the area around 60million years ago. However I prefer theLegend, which holds that the causeway was built by a giant (the wonderfully named)Finn McCool to enable him to walk to Scotland and fight his counterpartBenandonner. It turned out that Benandonner was much bigger than Finn hadassumed and after seeing Benandonner's size he ran back home. He asked his wifeto disguise him as a baby and when Benandonner saw the size of the 'infant', heassumed the father, Finn, must be gigantic indeed. So Benandonner in turn fledhome in terror, ripping up the Causeway in case he was followed by the baby’sfather.Whatever version you choose it’s a huge attraction especially on a holiday Monday.This shot shows the ‘back’ of the causeway (before the crowds start) with the basaltcolumns rising from the earth.After tea, scones and jam at the shambolic Causeway Hotel we pushed on toBushmills using the cycle trail at the side of the Tramway and so to the

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