With this little place called home in the midst of an incredible heatwave, it was off to the coast yesterday for a walk along the beach. Our destination was Castlerock, a wide and sandy stretch of beach on the Causeway Coastal route which extends from Belfast along the east coast to the Giant’s Causeway on the north coast, ending in the north west at Londonderry.
Castlerock is a seaside village nestled on a headland at the end of the appropriately named Sea Road, and you can park your car, spaces permitting, at the end of this headland, where the sand dunes mark the beginning of the beach itself. From there it’s a few steps along the boardwalk to the sand and the sea and stunning views to the headlands further along the coast. After a much needed stop at the ice cream van (whose flavours included vanilla, raspberry ripple and, cow pat !!), we walked through the sand dunes to the beach beyond. The sand was hot underfoot, the sky overhead a vibrant, cloudless blue and the sea looked deliciously cool as it came into view.
As weather of this kind is only witnessed every 25 years or so, the beach, as you can imagine, was starting to fill up with daytrippers, eager to enjoy the incredible sunshine and go for a dip in the sea. It’s the sort of scene usually reserved for the likes of Spain and Portugal, but no, this was home where normally at this time of year we can expect some rain just as the school holidays begin !!
The beach, as its name suggests, has rocky outcrops where you can sit and bask in the sunshine. As I walked along, the smell of barbecues drifted by from the rocks where people had set up their stall for the day. On the other side, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore and the sea breeze made for an idyllic walk along the beach. Meantime, the sun gazed down steadily as it has done for the past week.
I walked further along the beach as the rocks turned into small cliffs, home to seagulls who were flying high overhead. The crowds of people thinned out and I could happily wander along, discovering caves, sandy coves and simply stunning scenery. As much as I know this place, it still takes my breath away !
The beach and dunes are an Area of Special Scientific Interest and as I made my way back through the dunes, rich with grassland and wildflowers, there was hardly a breeze to be felt.
By this stage, the temperature was in the high 20s and it was time to seek some shade – something I don’t get to say very often on this blog of mine.
The beach is open all year round and is free to access. From Belfast, by car, the drive takes just over an hour. Lifeguards are in operation during July and August. Oh, and the cow pat ice cream (vanilla ice cream with chocolate brownies and chocolate sauce) is a local ice cream made by Braemar Farm Ice Cream. They have a van parked on the promenade and I do recommend a purchase or two !!
Have a lovely Sunday in the July sunshine. I’m sure many of you have been out and about enjoying the fabulous weather. I’d love to hear what you have been up to and, if you live locally, any recommendations for places and hidden gems to visit during the summer 🙂