Monday, March 7, 2016

Ramble Around Ireland #8:
Kinbane Castle

Kinbane Castle, in county Antrim, Northern Ireland, sits perched on a promontory reaching out into the wild and frothy ocean. Kinbane means "white head" and is appropriately named for the white chalk cliff that the castle sits upon. The castle, of which only small ruins remains, was built by the MacDonnells (part of the Scottish MacDonald Clan) in 1547. I thought it telling that upon my climb down to the castle I found a prickly purple thistle which is a symbol for Scotland and it's fierce, resilient, and beautiful country & people. 

The ruins alone of Kinbane Castle aren't quite worthy of the climb down (therefore also a climb up!) because there just isn't much left. The location of the rubble, however, is worth every sore muscle. There are a few different points to climb from which to gain magnificent views - you can even walk out on past the castle to the very tip of the land. There are sheer cliffs all around you, caves below carved by the crashing waves, wind, water, wonder. This site is powerful, evocative, unforgettable. Its definitely worth a stop, a drive down an impossibly narrow rural road on which you might (as we did) meet a tractor and a conundrum. There is a car park and a restroom. No fee, no attendant, just a warning that the trek down is steep and the trek up is arduous. It is mostly stone steps with a hand rail but not all.  

***Between Ballycastle and Ballintoy, from the B15 (also called Whitepark Road) there is a brown and white sign reading "Kinbane Head Not Suitable for Coaches." Take that road for about 2 miles - it dead ends at the car park for the castle. There is no sign for the castle itself and the one for Kinbane Head is easy to miss. Keep your eyes peeled.

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