The Antrim Coast event - 2015
(Click the 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 the Travelodge 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 soon 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 enough, 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 before 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 their 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 hotel. 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 to 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 rewarding.