Causeway Coastal Route - Mussenden Temple

Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route is somewhere I’ve visited before many years ago. I remember it being a lovely scenic drive so was confident Ewelina would enjoy it. Since my last visit the area has probably gained even more tourists, in part because it’s become famous for a number of Game Of Thrones filming locations.

The Causeway Coastal Route is the most scenic, if not the most direct way to travel between the cities of Belfast and Derry. Due to our overpopulated roads driving is rarely a pleasure these days. The Causeway Coastal Route though makes for a great road trip. Put on your favourite music playlist, relax and soak up the views, stopping where the mood takes you. Depending on your itinerary you could spend anything from a day or two up to a week covering this route. Since we only had a day we cherry picked a few locations to stop and worked quickly.

Causeway Coastal Route – Belfast to Derry

Having left Belfast behind us one of our first stops on the Causeway Coastal Route was the Cushendun Caves. It was only a brief stop and I didn’t take any photos. Ewelina was keen to take a look though as it’s become famous as the ‘Shadow Baby’ filming scene from Game Of Thrones.

The Dark Hedges

Most of our stops today would hug the coastline but we did have to drive inland for one location, namely an avenue of Beech trees known as the Dark Hedges, another Game of Thrones filming location. Trying to grab a photo without people in it was next to impossible. The best photos from this location seem to have been taken early in the morning when a mist hangs across the road. It’s a photo opportunity but I doubt anyone would have paid it much attention a decade ago!

Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Heading back to the coast, our next few locations were much closer together. The Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge is a National Trust location. If you want to walk across the bridge, pre-booking is advised. I’d done so on a previous visit so for us it was just a quick stop. The rope bridge dates back to 1755 when it was erected by salmon fisherman. It spans a 20 metre wide gap between the mainland and Carrick-a-Rede island, with a drop of 30 metres to the sea below.

Giant’s Causeway

For some people this might be a highlight of any Causeway Coastal Route tour. Certainly Ewelina was looking forward to it despite my warnings that it is perhaps overrated. So why exactly am I indifferent towards it? Geologically it’s certainly unusual. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’ve never found it easy to photograph. Indeed on this visit the lighting was far from ideal again! Maybe the modern visitor centre feels out of place to me when visiting a natural wonder.

So yes it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as such almost certainly worth a visit. If you’ve been and loved the place feel free to leave a comment. If you are a landscape photographer and have some tips about time of day to visit and the best viewpoints I’d love to hear them.

Bushmills Distillery

I’m not a big whisky (or whiskey) drinker but I will have a glass every now and then, especially in the winter. Even though I’m happy to consume the product, I’ve never been someone who likes to spend an hour or two going on a distillery tour. It’s been the same when I’ve been in Scotland, I’m happy to drop people off at a distillery tour but I’ll often wait in the cafe or shop. Once you’ve been on one distillery tour, others are much the same. Since Ewelina was not showing any interest in going on the tour we moved on to pack more into the day.

Dunluce Castle

With its commanding cliff top location, Dunluce castle can make for a great photograph in the right lighting. These castle ruins date from the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s certainly worth a visit if you are in the area being so close as it is to the likes of Giant’s Causeway. It’s not only lovers of castles who visit it these days, as yes you’ve guessed it, it is yet another Game Of Thrones filming location. Fans of the TV series may recognise it as the ‘House of Greyjoy’.

Mussenden Temple

Our final location on our Causeway Coastal Route was to visit Mussenden Temple. which is the building you can see on the image at the top of this article. In truth we actually visited it the following morning having overnighted close by. Another National Trust location, this circular building forms part of the Downhill Demesne, which was part of the estate of Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol. He served as Lord Bishop of Derry between 1768 until 1803. The temple itself dates from 1785 and it was originally constructed to be a library. The design draws inspiration from the Temple of Vesta in Rome. The temple is dedicated to the Earl’s niece Frideswide Mussenden.

For many the end of the Causeway Coastal Route is considered to be the city of Derry would be our next destination.

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