Thursday, June 6, 2013

Day 12 -- Rope Bridges and Causeways

When you think of Ireland, what comes to mind? Green and gold, four-leaf clovers, leprechauns, red-heads, rainbows with a pot of gold at the end? I can’t vouch for the pot of gold, but it sure rained enough for plenty of rainbows. And red-heads are quite abundant as well. But the green, the green is everywhere. Grassy hills, weeds, plants, trees, moss, buildings, clothing, tourist attractions, absolutely everything. The power of nature in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is apparent every direction you can possibly look.

Our morning began with an early 8 a.m. departure from our hostel in Belfast. It began raining on the trip to Giant’s Causeway and continued to rain and mist throughout most of our stop there. However, most of us didn’t let that stop us and we continued down the cliff to Giant’s Causeway. The area that falls under that title is quite large and has tons of, well, rocks! The constant crash of the waves against the rocks adds to the majestic beauty held in this place.

Giant’s Causeway was created by a lava eruption thousands of years ago. The rock columns that are found here are due to the quick cooling of that lava, causing columns with different heights to appear. There are also myths associated with Giant’s Causeway, most dealing with an Irish giant named Finn McCool, who was said to have built the causeway across the sea to challenge his Scottish giant nemesis, Bernandonner. When Bernandonner started to cross the Causeway, Finn ran in fright of his enemies much larger size. Ironically, he ran to his wife, who passed him off as her child, then causing Bernandonner to run in fear of a father that would be much, much larger than the child in Finn’s wife’s arms.

More information about Giant’s Causeway can be found here:

We then made our way to another tourist attraction. The area around the rope bridge to the small volcanic island named Carrik-a-Rede was beautiful as well. I’m overusing that word—beautiful—but it’s really the only way to describe everything I’m seeing here while in the UK and Ireland. The bridge to Carrik-a-Rede is a reconstruction of the past. Fishers used the old bridge to travel to the island to catch salmon. Back then, the bridge only had one rope to hold onto, but it was said they fearlessly crossed over the bridge day after day during the warmer months to bring in fish to feed the village as salmon swam by while migrating. The bridge was reconstructed to be a tourist attraction.

Amanda Heesch crossing the bridge
This shows how high up and how narrow the bridge was
I was quite impressed and excited that the bridge and area around it wasn't overrun by tourist-y places where they asked for a bunch of your money to see things that don’t supplement your experience at all. They had a simple building with toilets and a tiny cafĂ© with souvenirs to purchase and that was all, besides a ticket booth and parking areas. 

The blue-green color of the water meshed with the moss-covered rocks and created simple, natural beauty that cannot be beat. Seagulls nested in the pockets of the side of the island while the waves continued to crash against the sides. It was a very peaceful place that I would love to visit again and again.

Our guide, Darren, hurried us along on our way and took us along the Causeway Coast Route to Larne Port, where we boarded a ferry to Scotland. The waves of the Irish Sea broke against black and grey rocks all along our route. I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean, and driving along it for an hour and a half was basically heaven and I loved every minute of it. I’m sad our trip is coming to a close, but we have experienced so much in such a short amount of time, that processing all of these things will hold me over until my next adventure!