Day 1 of my hike on the Causeway Coast Way. Today, I had to travel a dozen kilometres between Ballycastle and Ballintoy. And since it was sunny when I got up in Ballycastle, I thought it was the perfect day to take my time on the trail and enjoy the scenery.
In Belfast, I have been told that the portion of the trail between Ballycastle and Ballintoy was the least interesting, as it mostly follows the road. In fact, someone even recommended to me to jump over this part and take the bus to Ballintoy. But walking along the road did not bother me, as I am used to do it with the Rideau Trail. In addition, it was nice outside, so what could be better than walking on a quiet road in the middle of the Irish countryside?
First observation of the day: the trail is not clearly way-marked. There are some signs here and there, but I often had to look at my map to make sure I was going in the right direction. I might have looked a bit lost at times. Maybe that’s why the sheep were looking at me curiously.
Halfway through my day itinerary, I made a detour to Kinbane Castle. The path to this castle is not part of the Causeway Coast Way and added 3 kilometres to my hike, but I wanted to see the old ruins. And I did not regret it. Built around 1547 by a Scottish chief, the castle perched on a cliff is picturesque. And I was completely alone on the site. It was probably my highlight of the day.
After a long time exploring the ruins and the coast, I walked back to the Causeway Coast Way. And that’s when the weather got bad. It started to rain, the wind was blowing fiercely and a thick fog quickly covered the scenery. In a few minutes, I was completely drenched from head to toe. And cold.
And when I arrived at the Carrick-A-Rede Suspension Bridge, I was disappointed to realize that there were several tourist buses there. I realized that I would not be entitled to the same tranquility as at Kinbane Castle.
I took the opportunity to go inside a tea house to have tea, and to wait until the rain passes and the tourist buses leave. But the rain never stopped, and when the buses left, other came. Meh.
I still decided to brave the rain and the tourists to walk on the famous rope bridge, one of the most popular attractions of the coast. First set up by salmon fishermen who wanted to check their catch, the bridge crosses a 100-foot precipice and I admit that crossing it in a pouring rain and in strong winds is quite impressive.
I had only three kilometres to go before I got to Ballintoy. It finally stopped raining by the time I arrived at my B&B, but at that point, even my boots supposed to be waterproof were soaked with water.
Nevertheless, I survived this first day and I can not wait for the next kilometres!