Antrim Coast event - 2015
photo to see a larger picture in a slide show.)
The event started for us on the
Wednesday before, as we headed up the
A470 with our Morini in the van to Holyhead and an overnight stop in
there. On the way through Snowdonia we found ourselves running
alongside the Welsh Highland Narrow gauge railway most of the way and
between Rhyd Ddu and Waunfawr we had Cockerill-Garrett class NGG16
number 87 and a six coach train keeping pace alongside us. Painted in
Midnight blue it was a lovely sight.
After over-nighting in Holyhead, our 08.55 ferry to Dublin
was on the Thursday morning and the
crossing was uneventful. There was a tolled tunnel at €3 that linked
the port of Dublin with the M1/N1 motorway heading north and we were
on our way. It was something like 125 miles to our hotel up on the
Antrim coast and motorway just about all the way. What a pleasure it
was to drive on the M1/N1 despite the €1.90 toll halfway up. Cheap
I thought, for the use of an uncrowded motorway. We soon crossed into
Northern Ireland and into Belfast, where typical 'cut-you-up' UK
driving standards kicked in again. Out of Belfast and we headed for
Larne, with the Halfway House hotel about 6 miles up the coast road.
So, first a few photos of the hotel on a dismal Thursday
afternoon, after a very friendly welcome; but
the sun did eventually show itself, thank goodness.
The event started with an assembly at 13.30 for a visit to a local bike
collection, and the sun came out, so we had dry roads for the run. Ian
Macdougall, the organiser, had suggested places of interest for us to
visit on Friday morning but we decided to just chill out and read a
book. By 13.30 a dozen, or so bikes had assembled and Ian, very kindly,
offered to take us in his car. We set off and didn't lose anyone on the
25 mile drive. The collection consisted mainly of competition machines
and we were made most welcome - photos of the visit, sorry if I only
have sketchy details of each bike:
The evening meal was followed by a pleasant evening chatting about
bikes and listening to a Country and Western Duo, who were very good.
We also signed on and received our route cards for the various routes.
It was a pity that there was no programme or even a simple list of
riders and bikes, that would have been nice.
The sun was out again, as we unloaded the Morini for the 10.30am start.
We watched some 70 odd bikes
arrive and get ready for the days run up to the Royal Court Hotel just
outside Portrush on the northern coast. Some pictures of those arriving
for the start:
Whilst we all had route cards, the drop-off system of route marking was
also used. The first 23.4 miles of the route followed the coast road
stopping just north of Cushendun. Seen at the stop:
After the stop the route headed further north and it wasn't long before
we had to do our bit as a drop-off route marker. As soon as
we got going again
we arrived in Bredagh Road near Armoy and the 'Dark Hedges' photo stop:
The Dark Hedges, as it is known, is an avenue of Beech trees,
planted by the Stuart family in the 18th
Century as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they
approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. The
Dark Hedges featured as the Kings Road in series 2 episode 1 of the
'Game of Thrones'.
Lunch was at the Royal Court Hotel near Portrush, some 62 miles since
leaving the Halfway house earlier. Lunch was a typical carvery and we
were fed in fine style. In the car park were the following:
The run back to base was uneventful for us, as we decided to head
straight back along the coastal route, some 50 miles. What a fabulous
coastal road it is. The only problem
afflicted the ABC when a valve head decided to detach itself from it's
stem, so the recovery trailer was called for. Our bike was soon put
away in the van as we watched others arriving back. Then it was a case
of a clean-up and get ready for the evening meal.
After a night of heavy rain, the day dawned dry and bright and sunny.
Todays run was only 47 miles and was run on the drop-off system again.
At the start were:
There was a stop organised in Carrickfergus Castle car park, it seemed
a bit chaotic as we arrived, as the park was full of boy racers in
small and shiny sports saloons, all fitted with noisy exhausts.
Each one had the customary blond in the passenger seat as they all
filed slowly past trying to exit the car park. we were told that it was
a charity run along the Antrim Coast road to Portrush. Peace soon
descended on the car park and eventually we all left on the return leg
to the Halfway House for lunch.
Jeannie and I did our drop-off turn at one junction before we all
stopped at a view point on the top of Scawt Hill.
We didn't stop long as the wind was quite strong and a comfort stop was
needed. It was a short run down the hill and back to the
Sunday lunch was waiting and it was soon finished off. People
then said their goodbyes and slowly started to drift off. We settled
down in the lounge area as we were staying another night and not
leaving until after breakfast the following day.
That evening we were treated to some interesting light features:
After breakfast we said our goodbyes to the hotel and set off for
Belfast, which I negotiated easier than I managed on the way up. We
were soon out onto the N1/M1 and heading for Dublin and the 13.10 ferry
Holyhead. Two tolls later and we arrived at the port of Dublin, only to
find out that the ferry was not until 15.10. How to get confused with a
24 hour clock! I puit it down to old age, anyway, we had a longer wait
than usual before the ferry
left. We arrived in Holyhead at 18.30 and headed straight for the
Travelodge again. Super evening meal in a nice Chinese restaurant
before turning in.
The following day we headed home down the A470 from North Wales after
having had a great time.
Did we enjoy the event and would we go again - certainly. Would we stay
in the Halfway House Hotel again - for sure. It was well worth all
the effort. Big thanks to Ian and Marian Macdougall for their
organisational efforts, it's never easy, but the afterglow is so