We’ve decided to tour the county of Antrim, or as the locals call them, the Glens of Antrim, by driving the coastal route. It’s been ranked as 5th in a list of top 10 drives in the world and number 1 in Europe. It promises great sea views, patchwork green and gold farm fields, picturesque villages, hedgerows and stone fences. It also promises bunnies, hares, wild goats and red squirrels. Hmmm. We’ll see.
We drive towards the east coast, driving south, going through Torr Head and the villages of Cushendun and Cushendall. So far, the brochures have been faithful to the truth. It’s exceedingly beautiful, very like driving through a picture post card. Each of the promised sights are there and we even see a wild bunny hopping along. No sign of a hare or a squirrel though.
Undeterred, we make our way inland to Glenariff Forest Park which promises the little furry red ones. Initial signs are promising, there is a sign warning us to slow down as there are red squirrels in the area, and we can see feeder boxes….but no squirrels. Instead, we do a loop walk though the forest. It’s quite steep in parts, and at one stage we can see down the hill to the motor home – it looks like a matchbox toy from this height.
We eventually meander back and make our way to the visitors centre. There’s a display of local wildlife including the largest hare (stuffed unfortunately) I have ever seen – he looks like a small dog – about 2 feet tall and almost as long! There are other creatures too. They are not “new”. The focus these days is on conservation vs taxidermy – these must be for the desparates like me who want to see the elusive wildlife but can’t glimpse it in real life.
There is a display too from the “Glens Red Squirrel Group” that shows a walkway highlighting red squirrels and Ireland’s only red squirrel playground. Trouble is that they are in the two towns we have just left. Oh well. Time to start pleading to backtrack. Ireland’s only red squirrel playground? I’m not missing that.