A short hop into headwind and drizzle to the notional end of the End to End: Giant’s Causeway. The natural wonder consists of 40,000 hexagonal columns of basalt – the same sort of volcanic stuff the moon is made of – looking like a clumsily-laid giant’s garden patio.
Visiting by bike isn’t all that convenient thanks to unhelpful parking, but we spent an hour clambering about and trying to take pictures without getting photobombed by a coach party. It was a suitably dramatic way to finish the trip.
After this we carried on to Portrush, resisting the siren call of the Bushmills whisky distillery. Sorry, that’s wrong: in Ireland you add an ’e’. That should be ’whisky distillerey’. Nigel carried on cycling via the ferry to Derry, while I took the train from Coleraine; it was sounding like a Cole Porter song.
We spent the evening in Derry/Londonderry – the cautious employ both Republican and Loyalist versions of the North’s second city to avoid inflaming nationalist passions – and headed on afterwards to Belfast and ultimately the Isle of Man, to collect another End to End.
It’s been a splendid few days despite the indifferent weather. We had originally planned to come in March, but had to cancel that when a storm rolled in, so having to cope with mere drizzle, showers and squalls felt like a victory. I’ve (almost) always had good experiences in the North, and encounters with its robust and opinionated people have (almost) always been friendly and good-natured. But deep divisions remain in many areas, as shown by any cycle ride round the murals of Belfast or Derry – some strident and provocative, some aiming to win you over with soft power.
In a land where many people are defined by red-white-and-blue, or orange, or bright green, I was pleased that my bike was kind of indistinct greyish green. And that it was made in neutral Cambodia.
Miles today: 37
Miles from Cranfield Point to Giant’s Causeway: 193