Reflections

Another hiking trip has come to an end which fills me with all kinds of feelings. First I am very grateful for these women in my life. Without them I probably would not have these wonderful adventures and see the parts of the world that are what I consider “the real country”. We rarely get into the big tourist areas which is nice. I am in my 70th year, without these trips to work toward I may not have maintained the ability to walk 10 to 14 miles in a day.

Each of us adds a quality to our travels that makes our days unforgettable. Tammy, the youngster, is our planner. She takes care of all our arrangements even though we are experienced travelers and able to do for ourselves, she enjoys the challenge of planning and makes the trips stress free for us shouldering all the stresses on herself, her nurturing way is to always make sure everyone is ok. She is a “go getter” not afraid to face challenges frequently telling us “I am up for anything!”. Joanne is a very intelligent and driven woman. She is very confident and gives a feeling of stability to the group. She is the hiker in the lead often scouting out places for us and always keeping us in the right direction. She also provides us with beautiful pictures taken with the huge camera ever faithfully carried around her neck. I love her laugh, which we hear often, she can make you feel you are the funniest person in the world. Sue, my roomy, is a wonderful story teller, always providing educational and interesting information and forever keeping us laughing. She and I have known each other since high school and have a synchronicity that is a pleasure to experience. We are similar in height so our hiking cadence is on step. Occasionally, we both enjoy walking in silence just taking in our surroundings. We have both been married 50 plus years and have wonderful families. Our grandchildren are some of the most important people in our lives. Her children and grandchildren are always in the forefront of her thoughts which is inspiring. My contribution is this blog. I love recording our days and sharing with friends and family. It is nice to have the record of our trips together and all of the places we have seen.

I can’t begin to list all of the things I have learned from these, fun, intelligent, adventurous women but it has been alot. This has been our longest trip so far, we were talking once about how quickly time goes by as you age, my feeling is it is because we do not keep ourselves busy enough in our daily lives. When I think back on the last 25 days and all we have done in that time it seems it has gone very slowly. I am grateful for the friendships, the means and the ability to share the world with these ladies.

Our last pub!

Whiskey and Castles, The Irish Way

Our last day in Ireland was spent learning about the oldest distillery in Ireland, In 1608 King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips, landowner and Governor of County Atrim, Ireland, a license to distill. We took a tour and tasted the whiskey produced by a distillery that has been in business over 400 years. My favorite drink has become the hot Irish whiskey with cloves, lemon, spices and bushmills. In 2014 Bushmills was bought by Jose Cuervo Co. of Mexico City also a several hundred year old business.

After our tour we went to a little french restaurant in the town of Bushmill. Then took a taxi to the Dunluce Castle.

This castle dates back to the 1500’s. It was established by the MacQuillans who were then ousted by the MacDonnells, a family descended from the Scottish Clan MacDonald. This castle was the scene of constant battle. In mid 1600’s it was abandoned and left for ruin becoming under state guardianship in 1928. You can see from the rocks used in the wall that they were taken from the Giant’s causeway.

The Causeway coast and it’s Glens region is steeped in folklore, myths and magic. This is a picture of Finn McCool, one of Ireland’s greatest folk heroes, he was the protector of Ireland against all invaders including a Scottish giant named Benandonner. The story is he build a causeway from Ireland to Scotland and that is how the stepping stones of the Giant’s Causeway came to be.

We have just barely touched on the history of this ancient land but it has definitely touched us. The people have all been so kind and friendly, making us feel so welcome. We met a man on the trail one day that told us “we are not very nice to each other but we are really nice to visitors”.

Goodbye United Kingdom!

Tammy, Joanne, Sue and Mary

Giant’s Causeway

If you ever get the chance to hike the northern coastline of Ireland you will undoubtedly come across the Giant’s Causeway which is an area of interlocking basalt columns created by an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. The tops of the columns form hexagonal stepping stones. The cliffs above are columns of solidified lava. We had a great time climbing around there but our route away from there took us up 150 rock steps, our biggest challenge of the day. Even though the winds can be cold and the rain comes and goes continually the scenery is some of the most breath taking in all we have seen.

A good day all around!

We were joined by big bird!

One of the past filming areas for Game of Thrones

Taking a rest!

She scrambled all over the rocks

The dreaded staircase

Interesting use of willows

Nothing “fair weather” about these golfers

We were told this is owned by a very rich man who has turned it into apartments. He lives in one house, has another for his staff and then the large apt building

Sue’s dinner, no meat anywhere in that pile!

GIT IN, YEES GONNA DIE!

The roads in the UK are pretty small, even smaller than some of our back roads, occasionally our hike requires us to walk along the side of these roads. The drivers don’t slow down for walkers at all, they just trust that we are going to stay out of their way. Today’s hike took us along a very crooked road where the cars could not move over at all for us and the banks were steep not giving us much room to get off the road. The rain and wind had begun to pick up when all of a sudden a taxi van stopped and the Irish driver yelled “git in, yees gonna die!” We didn’t ask questions we just jumped in cause we were feeling the same way! Turns out he was a private hire by two young girls from America. They were here for a friends wedding and were on their way to the rope bridge. So were we! We have the luck of the Irish! The bridge is called the Carrick-a-Rede and is a big tourist attraction today. You pay 6£ to walk across and back risking your life to stay on. I chose not to since I didn’t know how long the Irish luck thing is good for. The girls got over and back just fine as did 300 other people but you can never be too sure. Once there was only a single hand rope which fishermen used to cross the gorge daily. They did this carrying their catch and fishing gear, only needing one hand to guide them. The fishery only operated in the summer so the rope bridge was dismantled and stored every winter. Just as the girls finished crossing the rain and wind started coming on strong. We only had about a mile or so more to go so we put our heads down and took off.

This is Gerry, the man that saved us!

This is Sue carefully putting one foot in front of the other.

Even the sheep couldn’t take the wind and rain.

For all you Game of Throne fans turns out they are filming right behind our bed and breakfast. This gentleman is one of the security charged with keeping all the star watchers away, we had a nice chat with him as our hike brought us in behind their lines. He then decided he would show us where our bed and breakfast was located and use the lue at the-same time. He spent a long time talking so must have had lots of break time coming.

Not sure what goes on here.

Rathlin Island

If you have read the book “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson about the Lusitania you would read about Guglielmo Marconi. Lloyds of London asked him if he could set up a wireless or radio link at Rathlin. They needed to know as quickly as possible, that ships insured by them had crossed the Atlantic safely. If they could be seen from Rathlin then they were in safe enough waters. Together with George Kemp and Edward Glanville, Marconi set up a transmitter and aerials at the lighthouse on Rathlin and Ballycastle. This was the very first time anywhere in the world that regular radio communications for a commercial purpose was transmitted.

This lighthouse has been flashing a warning to ships since 1856.

We took the 45 min ferry ride out to the island then hiked out to the lighthouse. This is a beautiful peaceful island with about 200 residents. Stopped and had a drink in the local pub while we waited for the ferry. This also gave us enough time to get in another game of euchre and once again Tammy prevails as the only one undefeated! We had to sit up top on the way back which was a little weathery!

Awww, the beauty of Ireland on a sunny day!

We have been treated to a rare April day in Northern Ireland. The views have been spectacular! The hike has been long but worth every step.

The first five miles was going up in the hills, the rest was coming down by beautiful waterfalls and a river.

This sums up our day.

On our way back down we came to a restaurant, perfect timing as we were hungry and ready for a rest. A man greeted us at the door, Tammy says “four for lunch please” He replied “we are closed until six pm.” Our hearts sank as we were really needing to have a break. The only thing Tammy could think to say was “it doesn’t say that in our brochure” which didn’t mean a thing to the man. He must have seen the disappointment in our eyes cause he then quickly admitted he was just kidding. Or maybe he thought we were going to kill him, I am not sure. Anyway it was a wonderful lunch!

We ate in every restaurant in town!

Being in the small community of Cushendall, or any small community, has it’s advantages and disadvantages. The people are soooo friendly, today a lady in a car actually stopped to ask us if she could help us find something. The disadvantage could be that we ate lunch at Harry’s and dinner at Joe’s and now we are out of choices other than the grocery store. We will probably do lunch at the store tomorrow, then start over with the restaurants. Today was a travel day but even on those days we manage to get in at least six miles just exploring or walking to and from meals.

On our way to dinner we noticed girls playing a game with a paddle and ball, after inquiring we learned it is called Camogie. Camogie is an Irish stick-and-ball team sport played by women; the men’s version of the game is called hurling and is supposedly much rougher. We spoke to a man getting ready to play and he thought the girls might be just as rough if not rougher. The only protection worn are helmets and shin guards. The man told us it was similar to field hockey or LaCrosse.

Across the street from our bed and breakfast

The Meadows B n B, our home for two nights

A walk about town

No explanation needed!

no internet for a couple of days so this is two days post.