Pit stop at Ballygally
Lying halfway between Larne and Carnlough, the quiet town of Ballygally with its flat beach and calm waters, makes for a great stopping place on the way up the scenic Antrim coastline.
The town's most notable feature is Ballygally Castle hotel - the oldest inhabited building in Northern Ireland, built in the 17th century and reputedly one of Ulster's most haunted. I've stayed there a few times and the only things I can report are the friendly staff and great views in and around the hotel.
The unintended pitstop on this occasion was because someone forgot to pack towels for two soon-to-be wet & wiffy golden retrievers. As expected, the Ballygally Castle team quickly came to the rescue with a 'lend' of some hot-off-the-press. Cheers to Norman and the team!
From there, it was straight across the road to the great little beach for half an hour of stick throws and chilling. Check out the low lying thunder clouds over the sea - like the Dementors from the Harry Potter movies. Maybe Ballygally is Hogwarts...
Fairies you say?
In typical Northern Ireland fashion, a short drive north along the coast saw blue skies and white clouds replace any chance of thunder. Here we pulled over for a nosy around some old ruins at the side of the road.
The old Ardclinis Church ruins are well worth stopping at for a ten minute walk around. There's a small carpark on the left hand side of the road - blink and you'll miss it - and from the small wooden gate there it's only a 2 minute walk up the hill. Mind the sheep and close the gate after you.
So, the fairy tree. Whether you're superstitious or not, the fairy tree here is pretty interesting. With a graveyard as it's backgrop, over the years people have placed random objects around the treet in hope of good luck. Before today, I had never heard of a fairy tree - but a quick Google and this funny article by BBC NI brings you quickly up to speed.
Mind your footing as you walk around the tree and graveyard. The sheep roam free there so lots of brown patches to put your foot in. Which I did. Twice. And then fell trying to dodge a third turd.
You'll have seen the below pic in an earlier blog post - the wall on the left is the edge of the church ruins - so equally a great place to stop and just take in the surrounding mountains on the left and sea on the right.
One more stop to explore the rock pools across the road from Carnfunnock Park and we were on our way home again.