Adventures on the North Coast: castles, fossils, basalt columns, and ... bubblegum ice-cream
written by Aline Muff, Student Assistant to the International Summer Schools 2016
When visiting Northern Ireland – a trip to the North Coast is a must-do. After leaving Belfast, the route took us along Lough Neagh and the River Bann. Our fantastic guides Andrew and Jim shared with us their vast knowledge about the geology, geography, history and politics of the area. I think everyone, including the Belfast locals, learnt a lot; there was not one question Andrew couldn’t answer.
As typical in Northern Ireland, the weather was full of surprises; after taking some nice pictures, whilst some students purchased a bag of chips from a mobile catering van, we were caught by heavy rain while exploring fossils in Portrush. Soaked but happy (admittedly, not as happy as those with the bag of chips!) we continued our trip up to Dunluce Castle, where we had lunch and a chance to visit the castle with its stunning view over the cliffs.
Back on the road, we made our way to what would be the main event and highlight of our north coast adventure: the Giant’s Causeway. Of course, before we got off the bus, Stuart had to take the obligatory selfie bus picture. Again, the weather surprised us with a refreshing rainfall while exploring the outstanding rock formations of the Causeway. Yet, on our way back up the hill the sun finally came out, dried our clothes and accompanied us during the rest of our journey. During our trip we also encountered Northern Ireland’s “wildlife”: we not only saw lots of cows and sheep, but also made friends with the dog “Izzy”, who totally stole the show of the famous goats Johann and Miriam in Cushendun.
Back in our roasting bus, Andrew announced that our final stop would include a visit to an ice-cream parlour; needless to say, this announcement helped to get everyone back on the bus (which is never an easy task!) We stopped in Carnlough, where people rushed out off the bus to get ice-cream – some of us enjoyed a trip down memory lane by opting for flavours such as “bubblegum”. Finally, we arrived back in sunny Belfast (yes, it was sunny), exhausted but happy, with lots of great pictures, impressions and new knowledge about the North Coast, its nature, history and people.
Week one of the Summer School was officially completed. Friendships formed, knowledge transferred, fun had.