Ulster is rightly proud of its coast. Active communities are seeing Maritime festivals flourish from Strangford lough to Greencastle and the fine legacy of shipbuilding at Harland and Wolff understandably make this a place deeply connected to the sea.
But I think what really sets the Ulster coast apart is an attractive mix of nature and history. This has shaped it into something unique and beautiful and it’s no surprise that some of the most stunning coastal sights are castles and bridges.
Check out below these spectacular sights along the Ulster Coast, a coastline that should have a chant as rousing as one you’d hear at Ravenhill: Indeed, ‘Stand up for the Ulster coast!’
1. The Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway has enchanted the curious traveller for centuries with its mysterious and majestic formations. Despite the romanticized folklore the causeway was not the creation of feuding giants but was formed sixty million years going when molten rock burst forth from fissures in the earth caused by shifting tectonic plates. As the lava cooled it formed the amazing and unique plateau with its fascinating columns and hexagonal shapes that you see today. OK, not a mythical giant but some seriously spectacular geology!
2. Dunluce Castle
Dunluce castle looks like something straight out of a fantasy film, an imposing castle ruins perched precariously on the cliff’s edge. It was in fact used the castle stronghold of the House of Greyjoy in Game of Thrones. The iconic castle has a long and interesting history dating back to around 1500 when it was built by the McQuillan family it has its own fair share of myths and legends ghost stories and banshees.
3. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Afraid of heights? Maybe you should sit this one out! The Carrick-a-Rede is 20 m wide and 23 m down. Originally built by fishermen today the bridge is a popular tourist attraction for those who want the exhilarating thrill of the wind in their hair and little more than a bit of rope and couple of planks of wood between you and the icy deeps below! You reward for crossing the bridge is one hell of a view on Carrick Island. Just breathe and don’t look down!
4. Mussenden Temple
This has got to be one of the most unusual buildings along the Irish coast. The temple sits close to the edge of a 120ft high cliff and was built as a summer library in 1785 by the Bishop of Derry Frederick Augustus Hervey for his young cousin Fridiswide Mussenden. She died unexpectedly at twenty-two and it became her memorial. The temple was in danger of falling into the sea due to coastal erosion so in 1997 the national trust carried out cliff stabilization work to present the temple being lost to the sea.
5. The Gobbins
The most exciting cliff path you’ll ever walk! This ultimate coastal experience takes you close to the cliffs with the wind in your hair and the spray of the sea in your face you’ll traverse over bridges through tunnels and pass caves. Built by the Irish railway engineer Berkeley Deane Wise the first section was opened to Edwardian tourists in 1902 drawing worldwide acclaim. Unfortunately they are currently closed for repair due to storm damage but this place is bucket list stuff and worth the wait!
6. Carrickfergus Castle
Situated on the northern shore of Belfast Lough Carrickfergus Castle is one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland. The Anglo-Norman castle was built by John de Courcy in around 1178 and right up until 1928 it still played an important military role. It’s location may it a perfect stronghold dominating all approaches from land and sea.
Coast Monkey’s Recommendation: This has Road Trip Weekend written all over it! Start from Belfast and see all six locations over two days. The longer fresher March days are a great time for it.
Did we miss you’ve favourite spot in Ulster? Let us know in the comments below.