travel in 2006 Ireland and Wales


The eighth day 29th June(Thursday) click on the blue frame picture, you can enlarge it.
today's course   Ballycastl --- The Dark Hedges --- Giant's Causeway --- Bushmills --- Carrick-a-rede ---
                    Antrim Coast --- Belfast --- Mount Stuart House --- Rowallane Garden --- Downpatrick
today's distance   250km   today's pedometer   23,700steps

The Dark Hedges
My husband looked forward to in Northern Ireland.
He said that it was more interesting places than the world heritage site " Giant's Causeway".
That was old avenue called " The Dark hedge".
A site of the around-the-world tour that the couple who worked as a tour conductor makes Sekatabi will make you pleasant by descriptions of visit and photographs of the place that you cannot go, various encounters / impressions / cases with full loading by a tour.
It is the site where we support to in spite of being a shade.(I'm sure you will please to see it. Please have a look and support the young couple.)
The dark hedge photograph that was appeared in the World Photographs in their site had fascinated my husband.
He had been searched on the book, map and search engine for a long time, but he couldn't find the place after all.
He who couldn't get it over continued his research for the site, and at last he found out the quite same photograph on the computer.
It was proved that the avenue was in the south of Armoy village and it seemed to be elm tree.
The next morning we left the accommodation at a quarter for seven. We looked for it here and there in long time, and at last we found the hedge. It seemed to have been rained until early in the morning. The avenue, which I found on the grassy plain, which still showed dimly through morning haze, was fantastic.
Fairies seemed to fly around my body and I felt cold. On the site it was written as elms or some kind of its, and there's nobody who know the age of the tree exactly.
We roamed under the hedge many times with fear.
I saw some similar trees in the distance in an extensive grassy plain. I was afraid that some of the old trees seemed not to be taken appropriate measures.
I wish the hedges were kept well everlastingly.

The Dark Hedges The Dark Hedges The Dark Hedges The Dark Hedges

Heartful Irish
In the early morning we drove for Armoy to see the hedge.
We tried to find the destination for some times, but we couldn't find though we might be in a small village near there.
We didn't meet anybody in our sight and way. We drove up and down a small lane looking for the tree or a person.
At last we found a man who seemed having a morning short walk. As I showed the picture of the dark hedge, I talked to him "Good morning! Could you tell me the way for these trees, please?" "Do you know this spot?"
"Certainly! I know." "You should go straight about one mile, you will meet a wide road, then go across the road and you will find the hedge over there." He showed us the way politely and closely.
After having a touching meeting with the dark hedge through his explanation, we returned the same lane, then we found the man who showed the spot to us. My husband stopped the car. He asked us with a worried look "Could you find?" "Of course I could, thank you. Wonderful sight I'm inspired!"
"That's good!" "Have a nice day!"
After a while I noticed that he must have waited for us anxiously. Now I have a confidence that he had been waiting for us for about thirty minutes at the same place where we met.
What a heartful Irish he was! Thanks a lot!

Armoy White Park Bay
Armoy is a tiny village. On the main street there were many large flowerpot that beautiful flowers were planted in it with good taste. Main flower was petunia. I understood perfect maintenance of it.
We went back to A2. The National Trust managed White Park Bay that was just below the B&B.
The National Trust conserves several estates and architectures on Causeway Coast, for example Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-rede.

Armoy White Park Bay White Park Bay

Whitepark House
When we came into the gate of the bed & breakfast, Bob came out to hear a sound of our car and asked us "Where did you go in the early morning ?"
"We went to see these trees." I answered showing him the picture of the dark hedge. "That's nice research!" he astonished. "The hedge is the pride of our village.” he said. Bob won "Land Lady Of The Year" of The AA. In the dining room there were a diploma and a crystal object d'art. He said that he had taken a trip to Asia many times in his youth, so there were a lot of souvenirs of Asian taste, Buddha, Indian elephants, masks, figures of temple and shrine and etc.
He brought our breakfast. It looked wonderful and it was surely so. We enjoyed very much.
After the breakfast he gave us some information about our destination of that day, showing a large map of North Ireland.
Some day we wanted to visit Bob's house once more.

Whitepark House Whitepark House Whitepark House Whitepark House

Giant's Causeway
The next destination was Giant's Causeway. That is a world heritage, expectation are high even if they say anything. There were only two cars in the large parking area, because it was nine twenty yet in the morning.
The opening time of Giant's Causeway Visitor Center is just ten o'clock. In the way, two groups could understand that they pass the side of a building and advance. The right hand was the way above the cliff and left was the descend way to the shore.
Bob reminded us to go over the cliff again and again, so we chose the uphill road. Unfortunately it began rain, but the sea view from the cliff was very calm though I have been imagined the wilder rocky coast.
From the top of the cliff we could see the shuttle bus parking, but we found nobody there yet. Over there we could see the down stairs to the shore, but we tried to go the headland where a tall rock likes a chimney was standing.
People names strangely shaped rocks in various ways here, Giant's Harp, Giant's Organ, Camel's Hump, Giant's Boot, Giants Eyes, Honeycomb, Giant's Gate, Giant's Chair etc.
The young couple that we had met at the entrance called us from the cape over there waving their hands, and we answered loudly waving, too.
Such an interchange is pleasant for us.

Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway

We continued walking the meadow on the rock. There wasn't guardrail, of course.
I felt horrible when I looked into the bottom just below.
Sometimes drizzle passed, but the air felt good to my face.
We have heard the climate of The Giant's Causeway was usually rain, strong wind, mist and chilly. We had fortune on the weather here, too.
We arrived at the next cape that seemed to be the chimney that we often saw on the roof of English house.
It was called "Chimney Stacks".
There seems to be some legends concerning a Giants Causeway in various ways.
One of the legends is ”A giant named fin McColl is in love with a woman living in Scotland, and the causeway is the thing which made her cross to Ireland."

Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway

We could see some little flowers in the meadow. Thistle that is the national flower of Scotland, Clover etc.
When I watched a white clover, a bird suddenly flied away, so I was astonished.
"Sorry I might have surprised you!"

Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway

Then we went down the narrow steep stairs to the shore. It was slippery for the rain.
It might be the rock called "Giant's Organ" that I saw on the half of the stairs.
The next picture might be "Giant's Gate".
These strange shape was formed when the magma spouted out 60,000,000 years ago and hardened.
There are many things of original hexagon, but there seems to be an octagonal thing.
The number of pillars calls who counted it 40,000 of them.
I felt the force of nature standing on the hexagonal rock. People could walk everywhere at their own risk though that was the World Heritage Site.

Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway

The water was so calm that we could climbed on the top of he rock that projected into the sea.
The stones forming a line orderly, were about 50 centimeters in diameters. It looked peculiar rather than strange.
Causeway means the old major road, which paved the pavement. The stones that we were standing on will be in the sea at high tide.
We've just come with perfect timing.

Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway

Old Bushmills Distillery
We couldn't take time off to visit Old Midleton Distillery in Ireland. My husband said he won't go out of use Scotch whisky lover if he didn't visit Bushmills. We came to the oldest distillery in the world. They have a visitation around the distillery, but our purpose was only to buy a single malt whisky.
We bought two kind of malt,12years and 16 years, and my husband was satisfied to get the malts.

Bushmills Bushmills Bushmills Bushmills

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
We parked our car in the large parking area (It was no matter how too big in national trust of land durability?) These area was white cliff, so it seemed to be light not only sunshine but the color of the cliff. The surface of the sea was covered with cobalt blue and the bottom of the sea were white. The view was wonderful.
The small island on the second picture from the left might be Rathlin Island that was the paradise of the wild birds.
We were said that it took about fifteen minutes walk from the ticket stand, but we spent over twenty, and at last we arrived at
Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede

The suspension bridge was smaller than I've been imagined. On the signboard I saw the bridge is "30m-deep and 20m-wide". There aren't high mountains and large valleies in Ireland in comparison with Japan. Therefore people might be fascinated the small beautiful bridge.
Pure blue sea and the white rope of the bridge matched excellently. Only two person can walk on this bridge at the same time. There was a gate at the downstairs, and a man checked and kept guard on the travelers, and he talked to me "Konnitiwa" in Japanese and said that he had been to Kyoto, Nara and Takayama. "I know Japan very well."
He talked to another foreigners in another words and made them laugh. Was he trilingual or tetra lingual? It was funny!

Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede

I could go out the bridge without grasping the both side ropes, watching the beautiful sea 30meters below, while there wasn't breeze and the wave is quiet, too.
The island that we got on was The Carrick Island that had been the good fishing ground of a salmon going up from the Atlantic since hundreds years ago.
Local fishermen used to go out the bridge between the cape and the island for their work.
It is written in the National Trust guidebook. Carrik-a-Rede rope bridge is one of Northern Ireland's best-loved attractions. Traditionally salmon fisherman has erected this precarious bridge to the island over a 30m-deep and 20-m wide chasm.
Those are rewarded with fantastic views. It is famed for its plant life and nesting birds. We walked around the island feeling gentle breeze on our cheeks and watching the fantastic views.

Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede Carrick-a-rede

Antrim Coast
Our next destination was the capital city of Ireland "Belfast." We drove along the east coast named Antrim Coast.
A lot of large rocks covered with green grass hung over the road on the right hand side, on the other side we could see the cap of the wave.
The sea is North Channel and it might be 50km distance from here to Scotland.
If it was fine we could see the land far beyond the sea.
We spent two hours and half an hour to drive the long way, and at last we arrived Belfast.

Antrim Coast Antrim Coast Antrim Coast Antrim Coast

I can enter the downtown somehow in any kind of big city if I run for "City Centre" in a mark.
By contraries it is always difficult to leave the big city.
We found a parking lot near the City Hall The building was a typical Renaissance construction which was built 1906, just one hundred years ago.
I have read the explanation about the Hall, its characteristic dome is 53meters high, which was made of Polish limestone.
There was Grand Opera House which was older than the City Hall, built in 1895 nearby.
However it was exploded by terrorism, and present construction was completely repaired.
Ireland keeps peace now, but I have seen some soldier statues or the relief about the battle in several cities.
It will need time by the true peace.

Belfast Belfast Belfast Belfast Belfast

I would like to see the Irish Linens in Belfast for souvenir. I had researched a linen shop that was near the shopping street "Donegall Place" in northern part from the city hall.
After I was puzzled which to choose, I bought a tablecloth for my own and table centerpieces embroidered shamrock that was the national flower of Ireland.
Then we went to Marks & Spencer to buy grandson's shirts, a lot of chocolates, shortbreads and packs of tea for my family and friends.
The shopping cart was filled with many souvenir. I thought shopping was one of the happiest thing in the travel.

Mount Stuart House & Garden
Mount Stuart House & Garden is said the most beautiful garden in Ireland, administrated by The National Trust. We made start Belfast at 17:pm and our arrival was much later behind our schedule because of the traffic jam and lost our way at Newtownard. At last we arrived at Mount Stuart House only 15minutes before closing time.
We entreated the ticket member to see the garden, and he permitted us only into the garden. There was a moderate garden surrounded with many peculiar shaped topiaries, a long pergola with a pink rambling rose and a pond in the middle of it.
An elegant house and the various green of trees and flowers matched beautifully, that made us peaceful.

Mount Stuart House Mount Stuart House Mount Stuart House

This garden looks out on the calm Strangford Lough inlet that was in the temperate climate and humid like the subtropics.
A lot of unusual trees in Ireland were collected all over the world and kept its conservation in the original large forest on the slope.
Every topiary was vigorous. It might be taken for a long time to make the interesting shape, Irish harp, horse riding over the fence and peculiar one etc.
It was very regret not to have much time to appreciate their details.

Mount Stuart House Mount Stuart House Mount Stuart House

We walked around the woodland going out the front garden.
There, we found many kind of flowers and trees, rhododendron, hydrangea etc.

Belfast Belfast Belfast Belfast Belfast

Strangford Lough is a big brackish water lake that seems to be the habitat of various wild animals. It is said that two kinds of seals are seen.
A wave washed banks in the strong wind, and words called the desolateness were appropriate for north desert lake.
It provoked me a sentiment.
We drove on A20 watching the lake on our left hand side, then on A21 at Newtownard for the garden, which was managed in National Trust, its closing time would be at 8 o'clock in the evening. I was surprised myself at my greed for the garden watching.

Rowallane Garden
That was Rowallane Garden Only several cars were seen in the parking. When I was suspicious and went to the information desk, a volunteer came out and did polite guidance.
There seemed to be woodland garden, rock garden and walled garden in it. First of all we left heading for the walled garden.
The color was correspondent to my inclination, pale yellow, light pink, white and thin blue. Especially I was absorbed yellow garden.

Rowallane Garden Rowallane Garden Rowallane Garden Rowallane Garden

This garden has a lot of plants collection all over the world, azaleas, primroses, roses, fuchsias and alpine plants.
My pedometer was already beyond 20,000 steps. Today, I walked well. I was sorry for the volunteer who explained it in various ways, but we would disperse, now.

Rowallane Garden Rowallane Garden Rowallane Garden Rowallane Garden

We arrived at the bed &breakfast that we had booked in Downpatrick smoothly. The accommodation is a farmhouse that has five diamonds of AA.
There was no answer though I rang the chime of the entrance.
The front door and its circumference were not clean. The farm seemed to be deserted.
For a split second we doubted whether they made even a transfer somewhere.
I took heart, I knocked on the front door several times calling loudly when I got the reply.
A girl of a high school student appeared and she said " Mom is away".
We told our name and that we were the overnight guests tonight, then she showed us into the room.
After we confirmed the time of the tomorrow breakfast we were going to have dinner, but the key of the entrance door did not lock.
In addition, a girl of a junior high student came from the back room after we called loudly several time.
Unfortunately she didn't know how to lock, made a call somewhere and at last we understood how to lock.

The village "Killyleagh" that the high school girl had recommended seemed to be historic town.
There was Killyleagh Castle in the center of the town. "Will it be a party tonight?" A person dressed up and the excellent car fully went in and out.
When I entered a restaurant and read a menu, I heard a sound of drums and fifes. It seemed to parade, the person who raised a flag and a curtain, drum and fife band, men and women of all ages were marching in the same costume. The children waved Union Jack, too and cheered it.
Where did they go? What was the purpose?

Killyleagh Killyleagh Killyleagh Killyleagh Killyleagh

Dufferin Arms
We came back the restaurant Dufferin Arms to order some dishes.
We chose a chowder, a pate and a mixed grill. We were satisfied with all dishes. At that time we were so hungry, that we began to eat omitting to take a picture of all dishes.
What gluttony people we are?
Every picture was taken after we had eaten a nibble of them.
We enjoyed the dinner with observing the people in the pub.

Dufferin Arms Dufferin Arms Dufferin Arms

Please look at our travel diary with many pictures
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22nd June
23rd June
24th June
25th June
26th June
27th June
28th June
30th June
1st July