I didn’t have to travel too far to get to Derry, as I said in the last blog, Kathleen, the hostess of Daleview House B&B took me for a brisk walk before I headed off, to Abbey ruins in Ballylawn, I have posted a pic of us after the walk and also of the Abbey ruins looking over Lough Swilly.
Arriving in Derry, I hadn’t actually booked my B&B ahead so after looking around at a few locations I settled on Rose Park House, lucky they had a room available. It was just across the road from the historic Brooke Park which has recently had over 5 million pounds spent revamping the 8 hectare area. It was great walking through the park heading into town and seeing it being utilised by the public.
After arriving in town which was only a 1km walk from the Park, I decided to walk the 1.5km circumference of the 17th Century Walled City. The walkway elevated enough to see the layout of the original town, varies in width between 12 and 35 feet and claims Europe’s largest collection of cannon, all restored to their former glory. What a beautiful city, it was hard to imagine the unrest it had suffered not too many years ago and during my life time. I visited the murals in walking distance from the city centre, The Bogside.
Later that evening I was collected from my B&B and taken out for a meal by Claire & Karl, I had first met Claire in Dublin when I went to catch up with Inez, a friend from work in Australia. I had promised Claire we would catch up again where I arrived in her part of Ireland. We had a great catch up and lovely meal at the Primrose on the Quay and then walked along to the oldest pub in Derry, Peadar O’Donnell’s for a drink. It was the perfect end to a very busy day.
After a much needed good night sleep and a good breakfast I headed back to Game of Thrones territory to mark a few more locations off my list. I still didn’t get to them all but I travelled a fair distance to see what I could. I have marked the map below in bold so you can see where I travelled.
The weather was once again warm so it made driving around the coast that little bit more pleasant and the fact that it was a Thursday and not a weekend, the traffic wasn’t too hectic. My first stop was Downhill, a beautiful beach with many more surprises on the cliff tops above. I have added the Game of Thrones images and info to show the scenes in each of the photos I had taken. Even if they hadn’t shot Game of Thrones, the Dragonstone scene, there, Downhill would still have been worth the visit, the extensive sandy beaches which you could actually drive your vehicle onto all year round, would be great for many activities including, picnics, water sports and taking the dog for a walk, probably even swimming if the water temperature got warm enough. Mussenden Temple sits above the beach and has breath taking views of the North Coast and 18th Century ruins, all waiting to be explored!
I stopped off at a few none Game of Thrones sights too just for good measure and to prove I’m not that obsessed with it. I called into Portballintrae for lunch, a feed of fish & chips and a cold drink. It was nice sitting by the sea, listening to the waves lap up to the rocks and the hungry squawking seagulls flying overhead hoping I’d drop a morsel.
Moving on to Ballintoy Harbour, another great wee spot to stop for a coffee, from a very busy café right by the harbour, and a walk around. As I arrived a mobile artist, yes he had his shop in his van, was just finishing off the scene he was painting that day. He said he was enjoying his retirement just going where the mood and next road took him. After a good look around and some photos I went in search of the Dark Hedges or for you Game of Throne fans, the King’s Road. I pulled into the car park of the Dark Hedges Hotel with signs leading to a walking track that would take me to the Hedges. I was really disappointed when I got there to find it was just another road and there were cars and buses parked along it. I had to wait till all traffic moved to get the shots below. I was talking to an American mother and daughter, they were there taking photos for another family member, they said they hadn’t watched it at all but thought if they got a good shot, it would make a great present. The impressive beech trees were planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century, the intention to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.
My last stop for the day before I turned around to head back to Derry was Torr Head, it is on the North East of Northern Ireland and on a clear day you can see the coast of Scotland, I saw Scotland! It was quite windy by time I got to the car park but not too unpleasant to make the climb to the lookout point. I had a laugh to myself, only a couple of cars in the car park, as I caught up to the young couple ahead of me I couldn’t believe the foot wear the young lady was wearing, she had on knee high boots with a really good pointy heal, she seemed to be managing ok going up the hill but coming down her partner had to help her, I’m surprised she didn’t break an ankle. I kind of hung back in case he needed assistance. Anyway the views at the top were breathtaking. It was well worth the day trip, I managed to see quite a bit in the day and was well and truly ready for bed by the time I got back after 7pm.
I started back towards Dublin on the Friday, I got as far as Ardee and decided I didn’t want to drive anymore so as I drove around the area I looked out for a place to stay the night and come across Deeside Manor B&B, Stabannon, County Louth, what a great choice, Geraldine and Kevin made me feel very welcome and recommended a lovely place for Dinner, Carlito’s Restaurant, Dunleer about 15 minutes up the road. The food was delicious, I had the Smoked Salmon Penne. I would certainly recommend there beautiful home as your home away from home if you are ever in the area. I have to say on my travels I have met some lovely people, seen some magnificent places that I thought I would only dream about and did it on my own, never once feeling unsafe or really alone.
I arrived back in Dublin on Saturday afternoon having travelled nearly 3000km in 18 days. What an amazing place you are Ireland!! I need a break before I head off on my next big adventure, this time with my travel companion and daughter, Jaimee. Look out Sicily, we’ll see you in 20 days!!
Laugh Dream Reach, I am xx