Not sure what that says about me?!
The first part of our two weeks was to be spent at Ballyness Caravan Park in Bushmills and we had decided to take the Cairnryan – Larne P & O crossing booked through the Caravan Club.
Home to Cairnryan is 227 miles so we left at 10am on Sunday 26 July for the trip north. Our plan was to spend the night near to the port so we could catch the 10.30am sailing on Monday 28th. The trip went well with no hitches with the M6 & A75 very quiet. We arrived at our Caravan Club “Certified Location” (CL) Green Loch House at 3.30pm having had a good stop at Tebay Services on the M6.
What a lovely location it is in, with pitches within the lawned areas overlooking the lochs and only 6 miles from the port and £12 per night. I could recommend this CL to anyone for an overnight stop or indeed a much longer stay.
Monday morning saw us leave the site at 9am for the crossing some 20 minutes away. Cairnryan is a small port but perfectly placed for the two hour crossing to Larne. We boarded easily and enjoyed a quiet crossing on the European Highlander arriving at Larne on schedule.
The weather was proving unpredictable but the sun came out as we drove the 49 miles through some lovely countryside to our base at Bushmills for the next 5 nights. We found Ballyness Caravan Park on the edge of Bushmills easily and were escorted to our allocated fully serviced pitch at this pristine site. By 3pm we were all set up cup of tea in hand just in time for the rain to fall. And did it fall!
The site has 50 touring pitches set in different areas. The bottom end where we stayed tends to be for couples near to the lake whilst at the top families were pitched nearer the playground.
The site also has statics but these are well separated from the touring pitches and many seemed empty during the week. The facilities are excellent and the site is very well placed for the Antrim Coast Road (which now seems to be renamed Causeway Costal Route on all signage) and all the tourist attractions based around it. Whilst not cheap the site was of an excellent standard.
Within a short travelling distance you have all the delights of Dunluce Castle, Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
The towns of Portrush and Portstewart are typical holiday resorts with glorious beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean. The smaller but more interesting Balintoy Bay and Cushenden (both used as locations for Game of Thrones) are peaceful and draw you in. The Glens of Antrim provide glorious drives on roads a lot quieter than in England.
The weather continued to be mixed. On Tuesday our lunch was eaten in an old chimney/fireplace at Dunluce Castle to protect ourselves from the wind and rain whilst an hour later we were walking along the beach at Portrush in glorious sunshine! I suppose this is Ireland for you!
Bushmills itself is a nice village with a good selection of shops and amenities and of course the world famous Bushmills Distillery. Whilst we did the tour and enjoyed some fine malts the distillery was in “silent season” so no distilling was taking place. It was very interesting and well worth the £7 fee including your tasting session.
We had noted the great number of Union Jacks flying outside homes throughout the area and one night whilst sitting in the caravan we heard a noise in the distance and on investigation found it to be marching bands – over 15 of them – parading through Bushmills.
A reminder of the recent troubles was that all the police stations we saw remained barricaded fencing, security cameras and floodlights. The picture below is the now disused Bushmills Police Station. We found everyone to be very warm and friendly and you felt a sense of community in all the small rural areas we visited.
The week was over all too quickly and it was time to pack up and head back to Larne and the 10.30am sailing on Saturday 31 July to Cairnryan.
Paul Rigney (Riggers)