So here’s my first blog post on a recent trip to Belfast. I’m hoping to include blogs that are pure travel experiences, reviews of trips and activities, and hopefully a combination of both. I will also eventually work out how to link these posts to the relevant pages I have set up. But for now, here’s my review of Allen’s Tours and my day trip with them to see The Giant’s Causeway.
A sunny day in Belfast on Friday April 17, 2015, and I set off with Allen’s Tours on their day trip to Unesco World Heritage listed The Giants Causeway.
I don’t often join tours, let alone with big coaches, but being made widowed in May 2013 has forced some major changes to how I travel. And surprisingly I have enjoyed all of the tours I have taken since, in both Iceland and now Northern Ireland.
I enjoyed this day tour with Allen’s. It was paced just right with enough time at each location to enjoy the scenery and sights without feeling rushed.
The tour started with a photo stop at The Dark Hedges, a series of ancient beech trees that turn black in the Summer months. For Games of Throne fans, they will recognise this film location. Several other towns and villages were also pointed out along the Antrim Coastal Road, all used as film locations. Now I’ve never seen the television series, and wonder if there’s something I’m missing?! It was mentioned several times on this trip and on my recent trip to Iceland.
Our next stop was Carrick a Rede. Now owned and managed by The National Trust, it’s home to a 30 foot long, 100 feet high rope bridge. If you have a membership with the Trust, you won’t need to pay the £5.50 to the driver for the opportunity to cross it.
The coastal walk along the path and down the steps to it was beautiful. The Atlantic Ocean below was turquoise blue in colour with views across to Rathlin Island and Scotland.
I did pay to cross it but you will have to be very quick if you want a photo on it. The staff at the bridge will ask you to keep moving, so best to get the camera ready for a quick selfie or have someone else take it for you.
The Giants Causeway was the main attraction of the trip. The ancient stones needed careful attention to avoid falling, but large enough to manoeuvre. The staff on sight will blow their whistle should you try to climb the causeway at an inappropriate or unsafe spot, or venture too close to the crashing waves on the rocks.
Had there been another forty five minutes available above the generous seventy five minutes already given, I would have hiked the path up along the ridge to the “Giant’s chimneys and out to the tip of the coastline.
The stop at Northern Ireland’s oldest distillery was one the shortest stops, at only fifteen minutes. It was just enough time to sample the free whisky on offer and to make any purchases. But if you’re a whisky fan, you might find this part of the tour too short.
The last stop before our return to Belfast was Ballycastle. Situated on the edge of a cliff, the castle had some superb views of the ocean.
Our guide was full of interesting facts at each location, and patient with the small handful of passages who were between five to ten minutes late back to the bus. This only happened on two occasions and didn’t cause any disruption to the tour.
One tip I’d recommend is to choose a seat on the right hand side of the bus behind the driver. You will have the best views along the Antrim Coastal Road from Carrick A Rede to The Giants Causeway.
For £16 (online special ), the tour’s value was well worth the price. Even if I had to pay the full adult price of £24, I’d highly recommend The Giants Causeway Day Tour with Allen’s Tours.