I’m not sure what surprised people the most when I told them our plans for February half-term, the fact we were camping or the fact we were going to Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway is pretty much the only visitor destination that comes to most people’s minds. There’s no denying the World Heritage Site is a breathtaking experience but to assume this is the only reason for paying a visit is to miss out on so much more.
A week of touring this beautiful and friendly land has given us a family holiday rich in experiences, landscapes, history, culture and exceptional food. My overriding impression is one of the people. From petrol station attendants to tour guides, taxi drivers and shopkeepers, every single person we encountered made us feel welcome. Maybe it’s the Irish lilt that charmed me, but I felt a real and genuine warmth from the people we met here. There is a sense that people have time for you.
There is so much more to define Northern Irelands than its Troubles. Our days spent in the cities of Belfast and Londonderry/Derry gave a sense of rejuvenation. There are vibrant food cultures, contemporary restaurants and bars as well as new cultural ‘quarter’ - areas built to attract visitors.
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Ali Ray is as passionate about camping as she is about eating and cooking with locally produced food. You can read more from Ali in Camping & Caravanning and online.