Due to popular demand and a narrow victory (by one vote on the readers poll) this post is in my opinion the top 10 places we love to visit in the north coast of Northern Ireland - also known as the Causeway Coast.
I have included our favourite beaches, harbours and historic monuments and illustrated them with my own photos.
1. Dunluce Castle
Definitely top of our list of places to go. Great to explore and imagine the lives of those who lived there. The added facts of the kitchens which fell into the sea during a fierce storm adds to the drama. On certain days there are events arranged such as a medieval fair with jousting, archery and costumed historical guides.
2. Giants Causeway
Probably the best know tourist spot in Northern Ireland, and certainly one of the most visited. Often the expanse of the area comes a surprise to visitors, as they walk down to it - it is not just a few shaped stones in a small area - but a whole bay with varying shapes, sizes and pillars of stones. It makes a great place for kids to play, jumping from stone to stone.
3. Portstewart Strand
Owned by the National Trust, and know by our kids as "The Driving Beach" it is possible to drive on this beach. A great place for flying kites, brisk walks and playing in the fine golden sand.
4. Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
Have you a head for heights? This is the place for you! It is not actually that high, but the waves crashing on the rocks below tend to be a bit off-putting, as well as the "bounce" of the bridge if others are crossing with you. I have only crossed it a few times, and all are memorable. The bridge was originally used by salmon fishermen crossing to their nets on the island, but now it is a popular tourist spot.
5. White Rocks Strand
A glorious beach with a close carpark (so easy to access to your picnic stuff, buckets and spades from the car, and toilets too). This is a super beach for climbing and sliding down the sand dunes, exploring rock pools, or just spending a warm sunny day. As with all beaches here, the water is very cold, and the currents are strong so our family tends to stick to paddling. Some brave souls do surf, wind surf and canoe here, usually in wet-suits. The sand is find and golden, and the ice-cream van in the carpark is a bonus!
6. Ballintoy Harbour
Photos to follow - promise!
A lovely little harbour with great views, and very twisty road down, and a most unusual house. Amazingly popular with families and fishermen.
7. Portstewart Promenade
The perfect place to end a day on the north coast. Great ice-cream parlours and coffee shops. A lovely free play area, a harbour, and some of the best fireworks displays of the summer.
8. Dark Hedges
I only discovered this magical place last year. It is down a small country road, off another small country road, and it has these wonderful atmospheric "hedges". It is inland a bit from the coast, but definitely worthy of a mention.
9. Mussenden Temple, Downhill
Built by a Bishop as a library with the most stunning views of the coastline. Visible from Portstewart Strand. Again - more photos to follow. Dramatic and windswept with a spectacular setting.
10. Runkerry Strand, Portballintrae
Accessed by a footpath and footbridge over the River Bush - a great beach for a walk whatever the season. It is possible to take a coastal path from here round to the Giant's Causeway.
If you live in Northern Ireland, which would be your favourite? Have I left out your top spot?
If you have yet to visit (what's taking you so long!) which one intrigues you the most, and you would most like to visit?
We have had a minor hiccup with both the flooring and the fridge/freezer for our kitchen makeover. I could show you some interim photos of the work in progress, but I will keep you waiting a bit longer!
I hope for you is that among the chocolate and bunnies this Easter you find time to think about the real reason for this holiday - both the sacrifice made, and the cause for celebration.
I plan on taking a blogging break until Easter Tuesday, but in the meantime, leave your comments!!!