Ireland end to end: Malin Head to Bushmills

Woke to a phenomenal morning. Sunshine, blue skies and light winds. Donald and Elma at the Malin View B/B looked after us perfectly and we set off after another brilliant Full Irish.

We decided to follow the coast road as much as possible on the way to the little ferry at Greencastle which would take us over the estuary of the Foyle to MacGilligan Point in Ulster, and what a hilly road it turned out to be. Hill after hill had us creaking and the 25 miles or so took us a good two and a half hours. Didn’t even have time for a morning coffee…

interestingly we both felt a little sad leaving Ireland, indeed we were more than a little sad, we felt very sad. It had been a tremendous trip and Ireland had been so good to us. But it wasn’t over. we were keen to see what Ulster had to offer us.

the problem was we both felt a sense of anti climax. We had finished the end to end, the rest of the trip just feels like a necessary addendum, although we have the delights of the Causeway Coast yet to come. Indeed, we had a taste of it today. From MacGilligian Point we followed the road with a prison wall on one side and a military firing range on the other. It wasn’t the best introduction to Northern Ireland, but after that we had a delightful bike ride down to Coleraine, much of it on an excellent Sustrans bike track.

At one point we passed through an attractive little village called Downhill, and we girded our loins for the inevitable. A big, steep climb out of the village. We passed through Coleraine, missed the b- road to Bushmills and ended up riding through the extensive golf courses and caravan sites of Portrush.

We reached Bushmills, home of the most excellent Irish Whiskey, feeling a little bushed from the 53 miles and looking forward to a hot shower and a good meal. It almost wasn’t to be. We tried several B/B’s but they were all full. Eventually we found the Youth Hostel and what an excellent hostel it is. The warden (I think his title is manager these days) gave us a twin room en suite and we made ourselves very comfortable. The problem was there was nowhere to eat. We tried the local hotel but the prices were exhorbitant, although we did manage a couple of pints in the bar where the barman made us very welcome. And, do you know what? Hamish got his first ginger beers of the trip. It wasn’t Crabbies, and it wasn’t even alcoholic but the poor wee soul was beside himself with delight.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t so excited when he saw the prices on the menu so, not to be proud about it, we left and visited the chippy. We sat outside in the street with the biggest cod suppers you’ve ever seen. They were magnificent.

So now its back to the YH with a couple of bars of Duncans Orange Cream for a pudding and the prospect of an early night. We feel Bushmills hasn’t quite lived up to its billing so we’re not taking any chances for tomorrow night. It’s our last night of the trip so we booked into the Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough, just 14 miles north of Larne, the last of the big spenders. That’ll leave us with a short ride into Larne on Friday morning for the ferry and coach to Glasgow. Then, it’ll be back to auld claes and porridge…

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