Something I love about photography websites and galleries is that it gives me a chance to plan our next trip. Or if we’re honest, it gives me a chance to plan our next few trips! Seeing where people have been and the different perspectives that they capture is fascinating. More often than not, our travel plans are dictated by which pictures we’d like to take.
The Dark Hedges
Not too long ago we were in Northern Ireland and my research had revealed a magical and slightly spooky country lane in County Antrim. When you turn onto Bregagh Road (nicknamed appropriately “The Dark Hedges”), you can’t help but feel that you have stumbled into the past.
But first you have to find it! We were instructed to follow the signs for Gracehill Golf Club between Armoy and Ballymoney, and beyond that, the road would magically reveal itself. We were coming from Dunluce Castle and passed by the golf club on the right with everyone on full alert.
Suddenly on the left, we caught sight of the road name and we were there. All that was missing was an ethereal mist and an owl hooting faintly in the distance. But the experience didn’t suffer for it in the slightest.
As if it wasn’t enough to be running up and down the Dark Hedges for different angles, we also had to make our way down the springy slope at Dunluce Castle while juggling equipment and keeping a close eye on the advancing rain clouds. The springy slope was a very interesting feeling – it was just like walking on springs and every step was a bouncy adventure. The strange thing is that it was more grass-like than moss-like so I just couldn’t help but hope that St. Patrick included the North during his banishment of snakes from the island…
Throughout the slipping, sliding, and bouncing, I had to wonder whose idea this was, and then remembered: it was mine. Yet another photo dream germinated from looking around websites of the area and reading personal accounts from people who had been before. When I’m in research mode, the two phrases heard most often are: “Where is THAT?” and “I want to go THERE”.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
One of the more “hokier” activities to be found on the coast is the terrifying (for some) rope bridge at Carrick-A-Rede. As the name implies, a 23 m chasm is crossed by bouncing across a rope bridge. It seems we did a lot of bouncing on this trip! The bridge itself is 20 m long and is fairly sturdy considering the one rail version that fishermen used historically. We arrived right at the very end of the day so had the place almost all to ourselves. The rocky island that the bridge leads to is pretty small but offers lovely views back along the cliffs that we walked to get there.
After defeating death a second time (after all you have to cross the bridge twice since there is no other way off the island!) we enjoyed our walk back to the car and decided to try and catch the sun set at Ballintoy Harbour. Now this was a little jewel in the coastal crown. The craggy rock formations lining the beach with their psychedelic colours provided the perfect backdrop to end the day.
So next time you are planning a holiday, don’t forget to research beyond meals and attractions. Sometimes the most amazing sights are just around the corner (or down a springy slope) and oftentimes if you don’t know to look for them, they can just pass you by.