County Londonderry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland // Summer 2018

During our stay at Port Stewart, we hiked down to Downhill Beach, and stumbled upon a manor built in the early 1700’s called Downhill Demesne. Walking straight out from the manor, there is an old library called the Mussenden Temple. It is absolutely surreal. When you walk inside, you overlook the beautiful Downhill beach which stretches for miles. We then walked said beach for miles, explored cool beach caves and collected sea shells.The final part of our trip we drove down to Sligo, Ireland. On our way we hit the Marble Arch Caves – a UNESCO Geopark. Well worth the 10 pounds to take an underground boat ride and hike through over a mile of caves thousands and thousands of years old!


Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland // Summer 2018

While on our way to Port Stewart, our fourth location in Northern Ireland, we took a ferry to Rathlin Island, rented cycles and rode 12 miles round trip on a very hilly trek to see Puffins, which have come by the hundreds to nest on the island, along with a few other bird species. It was like living a Planet Earth Episode! We also biked to the other side of the island to see seals and baby birds! The harbor alone was worth the ferry ride. As no cars are aloud on this tiny island, we were free to ride at our own pace – which was necessary because it was STEEP! Unfortunately, I did not bring my telephoto lens with me on this trip, so I didn’t get any great shots of Puffins, but the island landscape was gorgeous!


County Londonderry, Northern Ireland // Summer 2018

While staying on the boarder of Londonderry and Antrim, we drove to the Dark Hedges, made famous by the Game of Thrones apparently.  They are 245 year old Beech trees planted in an eerie row in the middle of the Irish countryside. Next, we hiked down another super steep basalt rock face to the Kilbane castle – a castle from the 16th century which is crumbling into the sea. Breathtaking! But my thighs and calves were definitely feeling it! We also hiked Torr head, the closest point on the island to Scotland (which you can see on clear days!). Then we toured Bushmills Whiskey Factory, as well as the little town surrounding it, which just happened to have a farmer’s market that day! Lastly, we hiked down the Giant’s Causeway – an absolutely stunning geographical wonder of over 60,000 basalt columns on the sea. Although on the more touristy side for our taste, these sites are well worth a stop on a tour of Northern Ireland!


Ronan’s Way, Northern Ireland // Summer 2018

While staying in Cushendun, we did an incredible hike called Ronan’s Way. Basically, an Irish farmer opened up his property for hikers in memory of his son, and we hiked for 7 miles and barely saw a soul – but lots of sheep and killer views after a VERY steep climb! Apparently it is a newer hike. I called the Walk Northern Ireland contact number I found online, and talked to a lovely Irish local who gave me all the tips on great hikes and walks. This was her top pick, and we can see why!


County Antrim, Northern Ireland // Summer 2018

The second part of our trip we stayed in Cushendun, and drove along the Coastal Causeway Route, where we saw the Carrickfergus Castle (built in 1170!), Carnlough Harbor, and hiked the Glenariff trail in the Glens of Antrim/Glenariff to some gorgeous waterfalls!. To our surprise, our airbnb ended up being in the backyard of a Game of Thrones filming location, as the Cushendun caves are right behind our flat where scenes from season 8 are being filmed. Unfortunately due to security, we couldn’t snoop around too much. Wish I was a bigger fan of the show, because it has certainly made Northern Ireland famous. Of course, there were still endless views from the Coastal Causeway drive that stole our hearts!


County Down, Northern Ireland // Summer 2018

So, Northern Ireland is THE best. We stationed ourselves a couple nights at a time around various areas of the country, exploring a radius around us before moving onto the next location, which worked really well! The first part of our trip we stayed in County Down. While there, we went for a long hike around Tollymore Forest Park and drove around the country side. Would skip Belfast, to be honest. It was an nice enough city, known for the Titanic. Maybe it is be cause we live in London and felt a little citied-out, but we would skip Belfast in the future as there wasn’t just a lot to do there. Besides that, Northern Ireland is amazing. So many sheep. So many stone walls. It was heaven!


Kew Gardens, London // Spring 2018

While my dad and stepmom visited London last week, we finally got an opportunity to visit Kew Gardens, a massive botanical garden from the late 1800’s here in London. They claim to have the largest and most diverse botanical garden in the world, and I am inclined to believe them! It felt like we wandered through endless arboretums, gardens, green houses and structures covered in flowers. Unfortunately, for a few of the greenhouses I had to use my iPhone to take photos, as the humidity was so intense my lenses instantly fogged over!  I think we missed some of the most beautiful blooms, as we visited late spring and early spring seems to be the best time. Regardless, it was beautiful! Would definitely go again.