DAY TRIP 1 – From Belfast to Dunluce Castle, Portrush, County Antrim
For our first ‘travel report’, we’ve explored the beautiful North West region. This area has so much to offer that we decided to take two day trips to explore it all...
> Dunluce Castle
From Belfast Great Victoria Street Station, we got the train to Portrush where we caught the North Coast Open Topper 117 to Dunluce Castle.
The ruins of the thirteenth century Anglo Norman castle are set on top of the Whiterocks cliffs and offer breathtaking views of the Causeway Coast. The view from the castle, which finally fell into disuse after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, was stunning. We could see right round to Donegal and as far as the Isle of Islay, Scotland.
- Opening Hours - April to September from 10.00am – 6.00pm daily. October to March from 10.00am - 5.00pm daily.
- Entry Fee - Adult £2, children/seniors £1, children under 4 go free
- Translink ticket holders are also entitled to 15% off purchases at shops in the Dunluce Centre , Portrush
> Old Bushmills Distillery
Established in 1608 in the village of Bushmills, this is the oldest licensed distillery in the world which produces the world famous Bushmills Whiskey. After a short walk from the bus stop, which is conveniently located in the centre of bustling Bushmills, we took a tour of the Distillery. Neil and I got the chance to try some of the famous Bushmills 12 year Single Malt - a special edition currently sold only at the Distillery which is matured in old sherry casks giving it a sweet edge.
Afterwards, we thought we’d sample some North West hospitality in The Bushmills Inn, located on the main street in Bushmills village – a stone’s throw from the Distillery. The Inn has a cosy and authentic atmosphere in which customers are served terrific ‘pub grub’. We tucked into freshly baked scones, cups of tea and juice for the boys which came to £15 for the five of us, and chatted to other visitors from as far away as Australia and Canada.
- Opening Hours of Bushmills Distillery - Monday to Saturday 9:15am to 4pm, Sunday 11am to 4pm
- Entry Fee – £17.00 for a family ticket (2 adults and 2 or more children 8 – 17 yrs), adult £6, children £3 (children 7 years and under not permitted into production areas, £5.00 for groups (15+ in a group qualify for this rate)
> Giant’s Causeway and Coastal Route
Next onto one of the jewels in the crown of Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway. Considered as important as the Giant Redwoods in California and Mount Everest in the Himalayas, Northern Ireland’s only World UNESCO Heritage Site was a must see on our list. Legend has it that the legendary Irish warrior Finn McCool forged this wonder in a bid to reach Scottish rival, Benandonner, who had ridiculed his fighting prowess. We wanted to learn more about the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns and discovered that in actual fact the Causeway was formed some 62 - 65 million years ago over a long period of volcanic activity. Here’s a tip for you- if your feeling a little tired, save your legs and hop onto the Causeway Coaster shuttle bus which comes every ten minutes and takes you right down to the famous hexagonal stones. On our way we stopped into the gift shop and entered into a free draw to win a £50 voucher for any National Trust shop simply by showing our Translink Family Day Ticket.
- Opening hours for visitor centres is 10am- 6pm
- Entry Fee – Free, an extra cost is incurred if you require parking.
- Onsite there is a tea room and gift shop/visitor centre with audio visual presentations (£1 entry) and tourist information.
- Visit www.northcoastni.com for more information on any of the North West destinations
“We had a brilliant day! Travelling with mum and dad by train and bus was a nice change from sitting in the back of the car. Dunluce Castle was really cool and we enjoyed messing about among the ruins. We weren’t looking forward to going to the Distillery and didn’t even really know what it was all about but when we were there we actually had a lot of fun. Even though we weren’t allowed to taste the whiskey, the smell was enough to get the gist! The distillery room was really warm and as it happened was also the home of a ginger cat called ‘Whiskey’ who we were told loved to hide out in the warmth. The highlight of the day for us three had to be the Giant’s Causeway - we learnt that one of the Causeway’s rock formations is known as the Wishing Chair where legend has it Finn McCool sat as a child – we all took it in turns to sit and make our wishes. I wonder if they’ll come true…”
Getting there from Belfast:
- Purchase a Translink Family Day Ticket for £18.50 from any bus or rail station. This ticket entitles a family of two adults and up to four children to unlimited bus and rail travel in NI over the course of one day, across all NI Railways, Metro, Ulsterbus and Goldline Express services. The ‘family’ can include any two adult friends / relatives joining together to travel with their children.
- Belfast Central Station to Portrush Railway Station (Eglinton Street) changing at Coleraine Railway Station.
- It’s a Short walk from Portrush Railway Station to Dunluce Avenue where you can catch the North Coast Open Topper 117 to Dunluce Castle, Bushmills.
- From Dunluce Castle take the North Coast Open Topper 117 to Bushmills, Diamond. The Bushmills Distillery is just off Main Street on Distillery Road.
- From Bushmills, Diamond, take the Causeway Rambler 402 to the Giant’s Causeway.
- From the Giant’s Causeway Hotel take the North Coast Open Topper 117 to Portrush, Dunluce Avenue.
- From Dunluce Avenue retrace your steps to Portrush Railway Station – Belfast Central Station via Coleraine Railway Station.