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One of the greatest drives on earth, the Causeway Route stretches from Belfast to Londonderry. Following the arc of the Atlantic coast, this famous road snakes through the rural heart of Northern Ireland, passing winking lighthouses and proud castles, ancient monuments and whisky distilleries. It is a drive into a world of history, folklore and extraordinary natural beauty. And yet, by the roadside at Larne, the very humblest of stone signs marks its beginning.
The road winds for about 120km—slightly longer if you begin from Belfast rather than Larne—but the reasons to stop are many, so if you hire a car in Belfast, give yourself plenty of time: this drive isn’t one to be rushed.
In fact, the landscape seems to have been made specifically with drivers in mind: waves crash against cliffsides; emerald glens stretch as far as the horizon. There are gnarled and ancient trees standing alone by the roadside, and—so the story goes—the local residents refuse to strike them down for fear of disturbing the magical creatures which may inhabit them. This is a land that seems alive with folklore and fairy tales.
Drive on, northwards and then westwards to Carrick-a-Rede, where a rope bridge connects the mainland to an island over a 70ft-wide chasm. Such a bridge was not designed with sufferers of vertigo in mind, but those who choose to cross it will find it rewarding to step into the shoes of the fishermen who first erected it. Here are some of the best views of the Causeway Coastal Route, and it is the only place to see the many caves and caverns partially obscured by the waves which swirl around them.