Quick review – do it! 5⭐️
Cost – £55
Timings– approx. 9.30am – 4.30pm
Our host for the day was the fabulous, knowledgeable and hugely passionate Wendy who was a pleasure to deal with, demonstrating real North Coast Hospitality! We were driven around in a lovely mini coach by the very friendly and accommodating John.
Ground is a local chain of coffee shops and the Bushmills branch is a seasonal store based in the old Northern Bank with the old vault converted into a little private room, ideal for the coffee demo to come!
We tasted Kenyan and Nigerian coffees without milk highlighting the flavours and tones under the surface. There were some yummy sweet treats to bring out the tastes in the coffee including delicious lemon drizzle cake, caramel squares, chocolate brownies and cinnamon buns! A fabulous start to the day and a relaxed way to break the ice with others on the tour.
After a great fun coffee demo we were on our way to the breakie stop – The Crannagh, Coleraine.(http://www.thecrannagh.co.uk).
This is a cafe/restaurant with water sports right on the doorstep including an inflatable water park…if only we had known we would have brought our wet suits. 😜. It was buzzing with cyclists, families and groups of friends creating a fab atmosphere.
On the menu was an exciting mix of local goodies including eel, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, black pudding and a selection of breads! We also had some sneaky local craft beers – Lizzie’s Ale was definitely one to give a go again.
Broughgammon Farm, Ballycastle (http://broughgammon.com).
When we arrived at the farm we were met by the delightful Robin who told us his family’s history at the farm and gave us a short tour showing us the calves and energetic goats who would nibble anything! He gave us a taste of some goat gammon and some cooking tips. The farm has a small shop where you can buy goat bacon, gammon and even soap!
Wendy was keen to show the North Coast in all its glory and even went out of her way to take us one of the Game of Thrones doors. In February 2016 one of the trees at the Dark Hedges was blown over during Storm Gertrude.
The wood from the tree was made into ten doors, each one based on an episode from Season Six. They are now hung in bars and restaurants around Northern Ireland. If you fancy a road trip here are the locations listed below.
1. The Cuan, Strangford, Co. Down (Nearby Filming Location: Castle Ward and Audley’s Castle Locations)
2. Fiddler’s Green, Portaferry, Co. Down (Nearby Filming Location: Quintin Bay)
3. Percy French, Newcastle, Co. Down (Nearby Filming Location: Tollymore Forest)
4. Blakes of the Hollow, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh (Nearby Filming Location: Pollnagollum Caves)
5. Frank Owens Bar, Limavady, Co. Londonderry (Nearby Filming Location: Downhill Beach & Binevenagh)
6. Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy, Co. Antrim (Nearby Location: Ballintoy Harbour and Larrybane)
7. Gracehill House, Stranocum, Co. Antrim (Nearby Filming Location: The Dark Hedges)
8. Mary McBrides, Cushendun, Co. Antrim (Nearby Filming Location: Cushendun Caves)
9. Ballygally Castle, Co. Antrim (Nearby Filming Location: Cairncastle and the Glens of Antrim)
10. The Dark Horse, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Here is a video showing the story of the doors – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kyHbFNint0w
Ocho, Tapas bar, Portrush (http://www.ochotapas.com).
Our lunch stop had a lot to live up to. Ocho Tapas is run by a local hubby and wife team. She spent 19 years living and working in Spain as a chef but having come home is passionate about local produce. She created a special menu for us and it didn’t disappoint!
Bushmills Distillery (http://www.bushmills.com)
Bushmills Distillery is the oldest licenced distillery in the world. This was a real treat as I had never visited this iconic attraction and I had never tasted whiskey!
During our visit we tasted a 12 year old single malt which can only be tasted inside the distillery – a bit of a special treat for visitors.
Sadly that finished off our fabulous day on the North Coast with Wendy but we had the Red Sails Festival fireworks display to look forward to later in the evening.
As we left we got a goodie bag with discount vouchers for many of the places we had visited, giving us every excuse to go back.
This tour was so much better than the Belfast Food Tour (it was £10 more expensive but that is understandable given there was a bus involved in the Causeway Coast Tour). Not only was the organisation professional and effortlessly precise but we got more food, more drinks and most importantly and enjoyably, we got more passion, information and a much wider understanding of the local producers and suppliers on our doorsteps. Keep up the great work Wendy – we will definitely be back!