People are always asking me for recommendations when it comes to places to visit around the UK. Well, I have a new one that is not simply Durham or Northumberland! It’s Northern Ireland – specifically, the Causeway Coast.
I recently spent a week on the road there for Countryfile, hugging the Atlantic coast and travelling the route, which stretches for 120 miles. We did about three quarters of it, from Larne to Portrush and back to the Giant’s Causeway, for our final programme. Admittedly we had the benefit of great weather but the scenery simply blew me away. I opted to do the majority of the driving on behalf of the crew because the experience was so enjoyable.
As we wound our way from harbour village to town, smiling at hamlets with inlets and mooring spots, I was surprised by the quirkiness and individuality of each stop. The seascape looks across to Scotland’s west coast, over sandy beaches that are so inviting it’s hard to keep going. The turquoise water and magnificent waves make it look out of place on a map of the UK. California, eat your heart out.
The Nine Glens of Antrim
Having left Belfast, we started at medieval Carrickfergus, the first of many harbour towns. The rich pasture land that forms the Glens of Antrim – of which there are nine in all, each with their own beautiful detours – leads you up through Antrim’s area of outstanding natural beauty. Next we headed for Cushendall, with its vibrantly coloured houses, to take in the local festival.
I was shocked by how much you could do and see over what felt like a short distance. Even in the height of summer, it felt as though few folk knew of this jewel of a coastline. There is no wonder the TV and movie industry have now created a mini Hollywood in Belfast to make use of Northern Ireland’s incredible landscape for shows such as Game of Thrones. This just adds to the myths and legends that you can’t help be enticed by as you explore this place.
The food, too, was very impressive, from coastal cafés to Portrush’s finest Ramore, and even eating on the beach at Harry’s Shack in Portstewart. It was a wonderful week wrapped up in the warmth of the locals who were so welcoming and keen to advise on what to see next.
I’d just got back from filming Wild Alaska Live when I visited and it took my breath away. All I can encourage you to do is discover it for yourself.