**Before I start I would like to state that the images I have used in this post are courteous of the Causeway Coast & Glens. You can visit their website here. Thanks. **
When some people think of Northern Ireland, they sometimes associate it with the troubles in the late 60s and 70s, others link it with the Giants Causeway on the North Coast and me?… I just call it home. Especially the North Coast.
Growing up, like many children, I really didn’t see the big deal about the area where I lived. I always wondered what the point was. Why would people come from all over the world to see a ‘bunch of rocks’ like the Giants Causeway or a ‘ruined old castle’ like Dunluce Castle? It wasn’t until I grew up that I came to appreciate the area where I was born and bred. Now, I can think of nothing better than jumping into the car, driving the 10 minutes down the road and taking a long walk along one of the local beaches or forests… or even just a walk in general. There are so many areas around here to choose from; all of which have their own qualities and features.
Being originally from Bushmills, most people find it odd that I had never actually visited any of the local attractions. Places like the Giants Causeway or Mussenden Temple just didn’t interest me. These places just didn’t intrigue me until I was older. In fact, I think the first time I went to the Causeway, I was in my second year of university. It was around this time that I started to recognize the area for what it was. Absolutely beautiful.
There are so many things to see and do, and all within a short distance of each other. As I mentioned before, there’s the Giant’s Causeway, near Bushmills, Dunluce Castle, located between Bushmills and Portrush, and Mussenden Temple, near Castlerock, but there is so much more. There’s Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, the dark hedges, Ballintoy Harbour, the list just goes on.
Unfortunately, most of the attractions on the North Coast are run by the National Trust, meaning that you have to pay to gain access to it. There are a few places that although are run by the national trust you can still gain access to. The Giant’s Causeway is one of those places. If you use their carpark or plan to go through the visitor centre, you have to pay. If you use the park and ride system from Bushmills and don’t go through the centre, then you can gain access to the Causeway without having to fork out the fortune that it cost. The National Trust used to have a system in place, where if you could prove you were from a local town, you were able to get access to the sites without having to pay; although they have done away with this in the past few years.
For me, although all these sites are appealing in their own way, I would far rather take a long walk along one of the local beaches or through one of the many forests that are dotted all over the area. These, to me, are what the north coast is truly about. To me, they are not as man-made or fake. Yes, they are looked after by the local councils but they are not being exploited. Being used to make money for organisations that really don’t care, the way that the other locations are.
To me, there’s nothing that compares to standing watching the waves crash onto the beach and the local surfers try to battle with them. Or walking along with the family in the local forest and spotting two squirrels chasing after each other; jumping from branch to branch, in a bid to get away. And the best thing about it… it’s all free and on our back doorstep. It doesn’t matter in what direction we travel, we are never more than five or ten minutes away from somewhere with spectacular views. And that is why I love my home.