Saturday, 25 June 2016

Travel: Bushmills, Northern Ireland

bushmills northern ireland
Well, where else am I going to wear a Westerns map print skirt.
I'm guilty as charged of not exploring enough of the UK. I've been around the world (and I, I, I, I can't find my baby) and yet have hardly explored any of my home turf. The dismal weather is the main thing that puts me off but my time in Northern Ireland at the end of May couldn't have been lovelier on the weather front - sunshine, blue skies and the sun glinting off of the sea made it feel like so much more of a holiday than I was expecting it to - nothing like a G&T outside while the sun sets and your shoulders slightly radiate the day's heat back at you to make you feel a million miles from home, even if its actually just an hour's flight away.

bushmills northern ireland
Walking the causeway coastal path.
bushmills northern ireland
Little group selfie with these ones.
The Giant's Causeway is a true wonder - the natural rock formations are either the work of the fabled giant, Finn McCool, or of geological rock activity millions of years ago. I think I prefer the former explanation. The causeway is free to visit and you are free to scramble over the rocks, albeit that there are some friendly volunteers on hand to prevent you falling to your death and to provide facts, take photos, discuss your favourite fil-ums with. After a morning of rock climbing, The Nook is a great stop off for lunch although being the only pub in the area it's not cheap but the service was quick and the food was tasty (the TripAdvisor reviews are pretty entertaining but don't let that or the fact that they tried to charge Hannah 20p for tap water put you off).

bushmills northern ireland
Dunseverick castle.
Dunseverick castle is just a ruin now but it's a great photo-op from the road and the Antrim coast is home to countless white sand beaches and steep cliff faces. Pack some comfortable shoes for walking and be prepared to climb fences depending on how committed you are to your Instagram grid. This part of the world hasn't quite been touched by 4G and Starbucks branches so it's a great chance to un-plug over home made cake - I lost count of how many cute tearooms I spotted and as a Londoner I was shocked at what good value their offerings were. I had an amazing hazelnut and coffee brownie at the Wee Cottage by Dunluce Castle although those of us who are fussy and spoiled by London's dining scene should note that fare is simpler (and somewhat beiger) than what we might be used to.

bushmills northern ireland
Chocolate in the sun mmmm.
Bushmills itself is a quaint little town with independent shops but it's most famous for Bushmills whiskey which is imported worldwide. We stopped at The Copper Kettle for brunch to line our stomachs before trying some - the cafĂ© is very cute with friendly service, don't be expecting avocado on toast or an almond milk macchiato but for £3 my poached eggs on toast hit the spot.

bushmills northern ireland distillery tour
Bushmills railway station.
bushmills northern ireland distillery tour
Old Bushmills.
The Bushmills Distillery is a working distillery and so the tour takes you around the actual places where the whiskey is made rather than being a touristy experience. The condensing room was super hot as the alcohol is boiled off and you could smell the sweet wafts of roasted barley and bread-like yeasty aromas. I am not a whiskey drinker but the tour was so interesting, our guide was great and the tour groups are kept on the small side. Fun fact - all of the whiskey is stored in second hand barrels which have either previously held Spanish sherry or American bourbon, these flavours infuse into the whiskey and once the barrels have finished travelling the world and playing home to various concoctions they are recycled into planters! Bushmills whiskey is exported to all of the world and the distillery can't make enough for how popular it is - the process cannot be rushed and corners cannot be cut so in a world of fast food and fast fashion its amazing to see a product that takes years to make from start to finish. The older the whiskey, the pricer it gets but if you're new to whiskey you might prefer the "younger" bottles and the Irish Honey is a good option if you're getting used to the taste still.

bushmills northern ireland distillery tour
The middle bottle, like, LOL.
At the end of the tour I tried a hot toddy - whiskey mixed with hot water, sugar and a dash of cinnamon which is a well known "cure" for colds and sore throats. It definitely warmed me up and put me in good spirits for the rest of the day although I'm not quite ready to trade in my G&Ts yet.

bushmills northern ireland
The golden hour.
Ending the day with a G&T at Portrush harbour - a typical British seaside town not too far from Bushmills and the perfect spot to reflect on how unique and beautiful this part of the world is.



  1. Love this! Please, can we go back?

    - Elodie x

  2. That chocolate cake. OMG.
    I'd love to go to Ireland one day. It looks so beautiful and the tea rooms sound fantastic. But 20p for water? Haha insane.


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