Friday, 5 October 2012

The Old Bushmills Distillery & Carrick-a-Rede

It was probably not the wisest decision we made; visiting a whiskey distillery, and then trying to walk over a rope bridge, especially as we were given a dram of 20 year old malt whiskey each!!!
The Bushmills Distillery is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in Ireland. As early as the 13th C, there is mention of Uisce Beatha - The Water of Life in Gaelic - being made in the area around Bushmills. In 1608 it was officially granted its licence to distill whiskey.
Bushmills Malt Whiskey and Scotch Malt Whisky share a long history and there are many similarities in the way they are made. However, aside from the inclusion of an 'e' in the spelling of Irish Whiskey, they differ in two other important aspects: The absence of a smoky taste in Irish Malt Whiskey. In Scotland, the malted barley acquires a peat smoke character as it is being dried, giving the Scotch Malt Whisky a smokey flavour. In Ireland, the malted barley is traditionally dried in closed kilns without introducing smoke. The resulting absence of a smoky taste in Irish Malt Whiskey allows the subtle malt honeyed flavours to shine through (so I am informed).
Irish Whiskey is distilled three times and Scotch Whisky is distilled twice.
A good brisk walk along the northern headland of Antrim brings you to the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede. The beauty of the surroundings speeds you on your way, your eye being continually attracted across the sea to the distant Scottish isles of Arran, Ailsa Craig and the Mull of Kintyre peninsular.
This photo shows the old rope bridge being hoisted up by fishermen in preparation for the summer months of fishing in 1967. It only had a single hand rope and yet the fishermen crossed it daily without any fear, carrying their catch and bits and pieces of fishing gear, just using one hand to guide them. When you cross the bridge you are actually walking over the mouth of an ancient volcano.
You can just make out the bridge crossing the gap between the two pieces of land.
two images via wikipedia
Today the rope bridge is a much more sturdy affair; the original bridge would definitely have been given a miss by me.
The rope bridge from the other side after crossing.
This one is for 'Parnassus' who asked for a photo looking down from the bridge. I did not show it previously because it is not very good. Quite difficult to take a photo on a very wobbly bridge with people marching across. There is the added difficulty that you have to balance yourself very carefully as you cannot hold on to anything whilst taking a photo!!! This is the best I could do Jim.

58 comments:

  1. You had a wonderful day! Nice experience at the distillery,I would try with my pleasure this old whiskey ! Lovely scenery but I will never spend this bridge! I fear so much the height!.
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - the bridge was not as frightening as I imagined it would be although some people did give it a miss.

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  2. A magestic place! I admire you for crossing that bridge Rosemary
    -especially after tasting some whiskey!

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    1. Dutch courage need to cross Demie - actually I gave my whiskey to H, it is not really my cup of tea.

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  3. Hello Rosemary:
    Whiskey or Whisky is not the tipple of choice for us but, nevertheless, we should have been intrigued to see the distillery and learn the history of Whiskey making there.

    However, as for the rope bridge.......wild horses and all that!!!! But, the countryside is so magnificent and the sea......just wonderful!

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - not my choice either, but when in Rome and all that.
      Before I visited the rope bridge I thought the same, but it wasn't that difficult - I could see it was very secure.

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  4. Hello Rosemary

    Your trip to Bushmills and the surrounding area looks spectacular (I have not been here yet). The rope bridge of times gone by must have required some balance.
    There is a feeling of awe when one is at land's end. You have me singing Mull of Kintyre and growing misty eyed from this beautiful post

    Helenxx

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    1. Dear Helen - how very sweet, and yes, I was singing Mull of Kintyre as I walked along the cliff top.
      The old rope bridge looks so unstable, I would not have ventured on it, but I admire the courage of the fishermen to do it whilst also carrying their bounty.

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  5. That bridge looks a little scary to me but the views are fantastic

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    1. Really the bridge is not that difficult, I think it is just the thought of it. Yes, the view over to Scotland were lovely, it is lovely to view the familiar geography of your surroundings.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,
    What a very interesting post. I read somewhere years ago, that the Irish and Scottish whiskey and whisky's are different. I did not know however how they are distilled.
    My son in law loves only Bushmill's irish Whiskey.. he tells us its the best.
    I think i would be a little too timid to walk over that bridge!
    The scenery is stunning.
    Once again, you show us some wonderful photos of Ireland.
    wishing you a happy weekend.
    val

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    1. Still have a view more photos yet of Ireland Val.
      Is your son-in-law Irish? I think the Irish like their whiskey best and the Scots prefer their own. There is possibly some rivalry between the two.
      The scenery was great especially with the views over the isles to Scotland.

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    2. No. My son in law Paul is 100% Swiss. They live in Lucern.
      He loves Bushmill's we always have it in when they visit. ):

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    3. I only know that Bushmills is the the oldest distillery in Northern Ireland, so suspect that it is a connoisseurs whiskey.

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  7. The first sentence of your blog post would be the perfect opening sentence for a novel :) Rosemary, I tip my hat to you, I would have NEEDED an entire bottle of whisky, Irish or Scottish, to get across that bridge! By the way, I was in this area for my honeymoon many years ago and made a point of visiting the Mull of Kintyre because of Paul McCartney's song. I was not disappointed and still remember its beauty.

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    1. Dear Rosemary - the Mull of Kintyre conjures up so many magical images, and it is nice to know that you have visited the area. It must have been an exciting and memorable destination for your honeymoon. The song is a perennial favourite with so many people, me included.

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  8. Hey Rosemary! You taught me a lot about whisk(e)y now. Something I didn't know anything about I have to admit. Very interesting. Now I also know Mull off Kintyre(know that only from the song) is a Scottish isle. And ooooooo, that bridge!!!! Love it! Thought you could only find those kind of bridges in exotic places, don't know where I got that idea. All I have to do is travel to Ireland really. Bet you were glad to find this sturdy alternative to the one the fishermen once crossed. Don't think I would be adventurous enough to cross a bridge like that either, the sturdy alternative seems like a way better idea ;-)
    Bye, have a great weekend,
    Marian

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    1. The Mull of Kintyre is actually a peninsular that comes down from the Scottish mainland between the isles, and which is almost like an island. I have made that clearer on the post. Mull is actually an island higher up towards the middle of Scotland. The southern most part of the Mull of Kintyre looks out to the Antrim headland that I was standing on.
      Now you know where it is you can conjure up an image in your mind when listening to the music.
      The old rope bridge must have been very scary, but the new one is actually quite robust.
      Thanks for your visit Marian.

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    2. Thanks for this detailed information Rosemary. I love how you always reply to the comments we leave. I wish I had enough time to do the same. I do try though...
      I had a closer look at the Mull of Kintyre. It is indeed almost an island but still a peninsula. The Mull is the rounded headland I also read. Mull comes from the Gaelic word Moal. Thanks to your post I learned something new again.
      Bye,
      have a lovely autumn sunday,
      Marian

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    3. Dear Marian - when people take the trouble to leave a comment then I always try to respond. However, I am a very, very quick writer on the computer, which can make a big difference. Also my family are grown up. Not so easy for those with children and a job.

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  9. Hello Rosemary, It is fascinating to learn the history of these special whisk(e)ys, even if I don't drink. I furthermore love that copper still.

    I almost couldn't bear to look at your photos of the magnificent scenery, after your vertigo-inducing tales of rope bridges over mouths of volcanoes, although come to think of it why didn't you give us a shot looking straight down?
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Not a whisk(e)y drinker myself Jim, I handed mine over to H.
      I have included a photo of the view looking down from the bridge especially for you. It is not very good, and I could not get it exactly straight down, so difficult with nothing to hang on to.

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    2. Thanks for the extra picture--I think you just confirmed and strengthened the opinions of the non-bridge-crossers. I would have crossed it, but I think the swaying motion would have been more of an issue for me than the height. That's what got to me when I recently crossed a flexible bridge in Taiwan.

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    3. If you are not holding on Jim, then the swaying does make you feel rather vulnerable.

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  10. That's a fabulous walking bridge. Would like to go there.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I am sure you two could dance your way over the bridge beautifully.

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  11. Very beautiful places! And photos very beautiful! The view from the bridge fantastic! Thank you shared them with us Rosemary!Have a great weekend my dear!
    Dimi..

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    1. The coastline along Antrim is very lovely with some spectacular views. Thank you Dimi for your lovely comment.

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  12. Your photos are beautiful and the special effects you have used make them that much more special. The rope bridge view is spectacular I not sure if my husband would have gone across.
    Sarah x

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    1. Dear Sarah - glad you like the special effects on the photos. I do not think that I could replicate them again, not too sure I can remember how I did them, just messed around on picmonkey until I got something that I was happy with. Several people with us decided not to cross the bridge.

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  13. I am very impressed by your bravery - a rope bridge is a thrill to far for me. Give me lovely landscapes, pretty flowers, grains of sand...anything more exciting makes me swoon!

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    1. You would have been alright Nilly - very sturdy, built by the National Trust - it did sway though, but only a little.

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  14. Wow what a landscape and what a beautiful photo's. I think I would not cross the bridge.
    Have a wonderful weekend Rosemary.

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    1. I didn't think that I would be able to cross it, but almost everyone else was crossing, so I just thought 'here goes' and it was no problem.

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  15. Very interesting to read about the distilling of Whisky. I loved the way you made your photos look like paintings. The Antrim coast road is beautiful. I visited there many years ago and it evokes sweet memories for me. Thank you for sharing Rosemary.

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    1. Dear Betty - I am pleased that this post brought back happy memories for you.
      The photos were manipulated by me on picmonkey. It is a free programme for all to use.
      I cannot remember exactly how I did them. Every time I play around it becomes a question of trial and error before I feel satisfied with the results. However, I was endeavouring to make them look like paintings, so I am happy that you thought they did.

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  16. Erk! A wonderful view from a most precarious viewpoint, Rosemary!

    But what a wonderful place to visit. I love the 1967 view of the rope bridge being put up.

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    1. There was a small photo of the fishermen hauling up the rope bridge on a board along the headland which I took. I was surprised at how well it turned out.

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  17. Rosemary, fascinating post. Joe had read it before me as he is a fan of whiskey (drinks only a little though). I do not think I would have crossed the bridge. I am a chicken and scared of heights. Olive

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    1. I am sure you would have done it Olive - it was very safe and secure.

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  18. Dear Rosemary,
    Woof! That extra photo of yours would have been my undoing when it came to crossing that bridge. AGA would have strode across it without a care in the world and I would have followed - eventually - but I would not have liked it! I always feel that the wind is going to pick me up and push me over the edge. . .
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - nearly every commenter has said the same thing, but in reality most people went across. There was hardly any fraying at all in the rope!!!

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  19. You made it, rosemary! I’m so ambivalent about crossing the rope bridge. I’m adventuresome but somehow I’m scared on the high swaying thing. Talking of spelling in general, sometimes I’m confused with the different spelling in British and American English, probably I’ve used mixing them up. Both the natural photos and the ones with special effect are fabulous as always.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - you are not the only one that gets confused with the different spelling between British and American English, my computer sometimes get confused too!!!
      Glad you liked the special effects, I was endeavouring to make them look like paintings.
      Most people crossed the bridge Yoko, it was not as bad as you would imagine.

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  20. I was surprised about the old volcano bit, but I guess Iceland isn't too far away with theirs :) Such a fuss about saving the peat, it sounds like they still use it in the process for whiskey? Or was it whisky :) I'm going to go read your other NI posts, as I've never been there before - you are my first peek. Great post!

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    1. If you keep looking, I shall be showing a post sometime this week about the results of a volcano in the area that happened 60 million years ago. It is pretty dramatic.

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  21. Beautiful scenery Rosemary, the crossing looks like great fun. Great job you did in capturing the 'drop' shot whilst holding your camera with both hands on a bouncy rope bridge.

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    1. It is a beautiful place to visit Paul - the whole of Northern Ireland impressed us with lots of interesting places to visit, bouncy rope bridges included.

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  22. I'm not a fan of whiskey, but my hubby does enjoy the odd dram :-) The distillery does make for a very interesting visit...hats off to you for taking such a good photo while negotiating the bouncy rope bridge!

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    1. I do not think that whiskey is a ladies drink, mine was quickly despatched to my husband.
      The whole day made for an interesting day out, bouncy rope bridge included.

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  23. Actually, as one with acrophobia, I would need a shot of whiskey before I went over the bridge!

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    1. In that case I do not think you would have liked to cross it Mark - probably you would have required more than a shot.

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  24. Your pictures brought back sweet memories. I visited Busmills and walked on the rope bridge two years ago. It was rather scary and very cold at that time.

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    1. It is so lovely to know that you have done the same trip. You are the first person to comment who has known the area. Glad that it brought back sweet memories for you. It was a good day when we visited, but apparently the day before had been very windy on the rope bridge!!!

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