Keep to the Left!
My first day of driving on the left side of the road, shifting with my left hand, looking for my mirrors in all the wrong places, was very disorienting, to say the least. I’m not used to feeling anxious at the wheel. I love driving!
Staying to the left is the easy part. I don’t even mind the roundabouts. The hard part is keeping track of the left/ passenger side of the car. The lack of spatial awareness on that side is weird. The roads here are so narrow that I often have to pull off the road to let oncoming cars by and I’m terrified I’m going to knock off the left hand mirror, or worse. Thankfully, I sprung for full coverage on the rental car. Hopefully I won’t have to use it, but it does definitely give me some much needed peace of mind.
I will say, Irish drivers are amazingly patient. Not one person has honked at me, let alone flipped me off, even though I’ve definitely deserved it a few times. My car has a big rental company sticker across the rear window, which might as well say “Confused Tourist- Keep Clear!”
My Ride! A Ford Fiesta. I was hoping for something more European, like a Peugeot or even a VW, but it’s a nice zippy little car with very good gas mileage.
By day two, I was feeling much better – maybe I needed to sleep on it? – which was a very good thing because my plan was to drive up the Antrim Coast on the notoriously twisty, narrow A2. This drive is renowned for being one of the best coastal routes in the world and it didn’t disappoint. I ended the day by hiking out to Torr Head, site of an abandoned Coastguard station, within view of Scotland, and then Fair Head, a cliff top promontory overlooking Rathlin Island.
Ireland in a nutshell: Sheep & Stone Walls
My first glimpse of the Antrim Coast, in Larne. Very rugged! Reminds me of Oregon/ Washington
My rental should have a bumper sticker: Will Brake For Ruins.
Curious Sheep & Sunshine on Scotland, across the water
Classic Antrim Coast
Irish Traffic Jam on the road to Torr Head
Room with a View: Abandoned Coastguard station on Torr Head
Torr Head Self Portrait
More ruins at Torr Head
Green Path through the Heather on the hike to Fair Head
View of Rathlin Island from Fair Head. These cliffs are Ireland’s most famous rock climbing destination. No climbers today. It was pouring down rain!
Right before I got totally soaked by wind driven rain
Grey Man’s Walk. No way in hell did I cross it!
The hike out to Fair Head
Green Fields & Wild Bracken
Up next: A geo-pilgrimage to the Giants Causeway!
Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
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What a magical place Ireland is. If you get near, be sure to stop at Meaghan’s Bay.
The photos are beautiful. I really like seeing the countryside with the sheep. The coast looks rugged but oh so pretty.
so stunningly beautiful, thanks for sharing
If you like Ireland….come to Wales. You’ll love it I promise. More history, castles, mountains, rivers and valleys than you can shake a stick at.
Much as I like Ireland, Wales is better 🙂
Someday, for sure! I met some fantastic Welsh people on the Inca Trail in 2010 and have a standing invite to come visit. This trip is Northern Ireland & Scotland. Wales will be another day. I want to come back and hike Hadrian’s Wall some summer. Maybe then? Thanks for reading! M
no worries, Wales will be waiting 😉
Beautiful landscape and enyoing your photos 🙂
Beautiful landscape enjoy your pictures 🙂
Just about to brave California’s roads so I know your fear. Love the atmospheric photos.
Ah yes, that looks like Ireland all right. Sheltering from the drizzle in a raincoat. (I grew up in the west of Ireland so I’m familiar with the many types of Irish rain 😉 )
I have been in England 3 times and have never attempted to drive as I just know I would go around a traffic circle the wrong way and kill some innocent Englishman and probably spark WWIII:) The cliffs at Fair Head look like they are basalt, is this so?
Ruins are always a draw. Along with old cemeteries.
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