Marce found a quiet parkup high above Rathlin Sound in the clouds with Scotland, on a clear day, off in the distance. The main attraction for us is that it features a few RV services we’re in need of. You could say free toilets with a view.
For me, the fascinating thing about the view is an unmarked formation of rocks that I’d noticed before from other locations but, because of distance and the lack of elevation, I couldn’t really make sense of. Now, from our perch in the clouds we’re high above the rocks but clarity is another matter. These rocks so disturb the flow of the current that as the swell approaches, the water suddenly rears up into a standing wave whose break causes other waves from three different directions to tumble into the center, creating a frothy whirlpool in the middle of the maelstrom. And yet, at other times the rocks are under the surface and the sea around them is placid. As an unrepentant sailor I find the sea endlessly fascinating and this phenomenon really focused my imagination.
While sailing in the Caribbean we had occasion to sail right over “Kick e’m Jenny” an underwater volcano with dire warnings on the nautical charts to steer clear. Afterwards locals looked at us like we were either sailing gods or maybe just plain mad.
After servicing EV we noticed a trailhead at a back corner of the parkup and more significantly, a plaque describing native flora & fauna mounted right before the path turns a corner and disappears out of sight. This is a quiet backwater with a gorgeous seaview of Rathlin Sound and Island but with a more substantial parkup than you would expect. What are we missing here? It must be the trail but there are no clues from up here. It’s the kind of temptation that draws you further up a mountain, or down a set of stairs so long that you can’t even see the bottom. This time it turned out to be the latter. It’s a beautiful scene and we’re keen to find out where these stairs lead.
Slowly, every 50 feet or so, bit by bit, the story is revealed.
It took a while to piece together what we were looking at.
As we closed with the bottom of the stairs we found the ancient ruins of Kinbane Castle clinging to a rocky limestone outcrop reaching out into the crashing waves of Rathlin Sound.
What a special find! I just had to climb over a grassy knoll and found what was probably a fisherman’s cottage and a bit of rock art.
Kinbane Castle was built by Colla MacDonnell in 1547, younger brother of the notorious constable of Dunluce, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, during the height of MacDonnell supremacy along this coast.
It was besieged by the English but a garrison found hiding under the castle in a large sea cave — now called the “hollow of the English” — were trapped and massacred.
The castle was thought to be impervious to cannon fire due to the protection of the rocky limestone knoll to seaward. It was eventually damaged by English cannons but was soon rebuilt, and survived as a residence well into the 1700’s.
This is the kind of place where you just want to sit and soak all of this in for a while, especially when you consider all the stairs you’re going to have to lug the caboose up to get out of here.
You’ll be shocked to learn that Kinbane Castle in not on the GoT tour.