Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Day on the Coast

The weather was beautiful, so we decided to find some more places from the National Trust. The crooked roads took us first to Castlerock, a cute little village where part of the old seawall is made from stones cut from the Giant's Causeway, well before it was a protected place.

Journeying further along we came upon Downhill perched on the edge of the rugged headland, jutting out into the sea. The mansion was built in the 18th century by the eccentric Earl Bishop, one of several houses he owned. The construction is stone block, with large rooms to house he art collection. After a fire in the early 1800's, it was rebuilt with a garden room, complete with retractable roof!

The Earl Bishop also constructed a round building right at the cliffs edge which he named the Mussenden Temple, after his sister in law. The building has four opening, positioned for each direction. The front door is south, with windows on the other three; the one looking north over the ocean is breathtaking! The Temple was originally a library, but the walls are bare.

Now for the sad part of this story. The house was still inhabited in 1949. The RAF used it during WW2 for housing. After the war, the owner fell deeply into debt, so, he stripped the place, selling off the art, furnishings, any wooden parts, such as staircases and eventually, the lead roof, leaving the entire building opened to the elements! The National Trust was finally able to aquire it in 1970's.

We left Downhill rather depressed, and drove down the road to Hezlett House, a 17th century thatched cottage, the arrived to the National Trust intact. They even gave us packets of seeds to plant!

Time for the beach at Magilligan Strand! There were some brave souls playing in the water, but we were happy to spend our time looking for shells.

On the way home, we drove past Binevenagh, a 384 ft mountain. Honest, it looks bigger in person!

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