Hiking in Northern Ireland

One super cheap Ryanair flight later and I was in Ireland. As much as I’m not a fan of the dreaded Ryanair with their strict rules and steep fines, it is hard to resist some of the deals. For September the majority of flights from the United Kingdom to Dublin were priced under £20. Gez. Guess I had to visit Ireland now.

I was picked up by my Irish mate Steve and we were away on my second roadtrip of the year. We headed north to Steve’s home territory for the first couple of nights.

Some sheep by a dam on the first evening. My first hint that Ireland might be rather pretty

We went hiking up Northern Ireland’s highest mountain – Slieve Donard. I think Steve was trying to kill me

We ate a picnic with this view on our way up the mountain

Aw pretty Steve!

It was a little bit foggy at the top

The Titanic museum in Belfast is most definitely worth a visit

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It’s more fun if you bounce across to the island

Then we headed to the Giant’s Causeway. This is the view from above if you walk along the cliffs

Up close it becomes much more impressive

Sitting in the wishing chair

Mandatory selfie

The view walking back to the car was gasp-worthy

A giant sunset

Some issues that we had with the Giant’s Causeway is the lack of parking. Well there is parking at the visitor’s centre, but with a price tag of £8 per person, we weren’t so keen to park there. Access to the cliffs and causeway itself is free as per Ireland’s public right of access laws. But the way the National Trust have set up the site next to the cliffs and strictly enforce no parking on the sides of the surrounding roads.. well there isn’t many happy reviews on Trip Advisor about them. The set-up makes it look like you have to pay to see the cliffs when in fact you don’t. Even if you don’t care about the visitor centre, you still gotta pay the steep £8 pp just to park. We ended up parking in a nearby pub (with a promise that we would buy a drink post-cliffs) and then walked over the visitors centre’s roof to get to the cliffs. My opinion of the National Trust was significantly lowered that day. I’m sure anyone else who has visited will agree too.

But that was the end of our sight-seeing in Northern Island. We went to sleep that night in Derry ready for the drive into Southern Ireland the next day.

Where did we stay: In various places belonging to Steve’s family for free! Perks of travelling with a local ;)


A United Road Trip – Part 5 – Haggis and York

This post is part of a series called The United Road Trip which is a 12 day roadtrip I undertook within the United Kingdom in September. You can read part 1part 2part 3 and part 4 here.

I think you can guess already by the title of this entry where the next stage of the roadtrip went to.

Thought about it? Yup that’s right – Bonny Scotland. Which at our time of visiting had just voted No in their referendum. Luckily we visited a small town in the South which was quite settled.

On our way north we stopped by yet another castle in Carlisle. We were indeed well and truly over castles by this stage. But with our English Heritage memberships (aka free entry), we felt it was our duty.

But.. the fact that I didn’t take any photos during the visit kinda speaks for the quality of this castle. I wouldn’t recommend it just with not being that interesting.

One of the very few Carlisle photos I did take

After a nice bit of haggis toasty for lunch, we were on our way to Lockerbie in Scotland to stay with another friend of Shelleys. But we did stop by an abbey with a graveyard for a nosey on the way.

This was a much more interesting stop. And they sold strawberry wine!

We stayed in Lockerbie for a couple of nights. It was a great visit as it involved a bit more chill time with newborn baby cuddles. And regular visits to the local pub. We did a little bit of sight-seeing of local pretty places too.

The valley where Scots hid their cows. And evidence that yes I am safe to hold babies

At St Mary’s Loch

What a beautiful wee Scottish loch

Playing with my camera capturing a bumblebee

I lay in the soft green loch grass for a while

The three of us. Photo credit Shelley Hassledine

Riding on a local sheep statue. It’s okay cause I’m a kiwi!

All good things come to an end though. We got off the sheep statues and left Lockerbie to head back into England getting to Leyburn later that day. Leyburn was just a quick stopover for the night with yet another one of Shelley’s mates (I swear she has more friends than me!). It was the final night of our roadtrip though which was a bit sad! But at the same time it was awfully nice to think of doing any more driving for a while..

On day twelve of the road trip, we headed back to Shelley’s home stopping in York for the afternoon.

York Minister Cathedral

One of the many cat statues. We actually did a walking tour based on these cats

Mint pea soup at my favourite restaurant – Bills

Photo credit Shelley Hassledine, Mmmmm drinks!

We finally made it back to Shelley’s house near London the next evening after a massive cream tea (my last one) followed by six hours of driving from Leyburn. Utterly exhausted but happy with such a fantastic trip to so many amazing parts of the United Kingdom. There had been a lot of laughter during the whole trip. What luck we’d had with the weather too. Only one day out of twelve had rain, which happened on a driving day meaning it didn’t matter so much. I went to sleep that night in Shelley’s bed dead tired after driving seventeen hundred miles. I was already thinking about my next adventure tomorrow. Starting with a flight to Ireland.

The open road is calling