Coastal Eco Audit at Dunluce Castle

On 9 October we headed to the north coast to storm the ancient fortifications of Dunluce Castle... or at least survey the impressive rocky coves that lie either side of the castle and help provide some of its impressive fortifications.

www.discovernorthernireland.com tells us that 'Dunluce Castle is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic historic monuments, perched on the north Antrim coastline on a dramatic rocky promontory. This strong defensive location has seen occupation for over 1000 years.' However all things must come to an end and 'The town was burnt in the aftermath of the 1641 Irish Rebellion and was ultimately abandoned.'... leaving it to the tourists and the wildlife.

Coastwatch Dunluce 2 2015

Having arrived and seeing there was a cover charge to storm the Castle, we opted to storm the coffee shop instead. One coffee and chocolate cake later, it was time to meet up with Matt Wright of Causeway Coasteering to storm the beaches. Matt is actively involved in conservation along the north coast, not least because his livelihood depends on these coasts and their continuing good health. He was here to learn how to do the Coastwatch surveys and was planning on progressing on to do his own survey plots after learning the ropes.

After a scrambling down to the rocky beach that lies to the east of Dunluce Castle we conducted our survey, finding a good mix of intertidal species and a nice clean stream cascading down the cliffs. Unfortunately we also found a lot of plastic bottles which people could have recycled or disposed of correctly but instead opted to lob into the sea and now lay polluting some of the most remote shores in Northern Ireland.

'The dramatic history of Dunluce is matched by tales of banshees and mermaids' ... neither were recorded during our survey. Nor did we find any evidence of the castle kitchens which fell into the sea one stormy night in 1639. One of the fantastic things about the Coastwatch surveys is that it gives us a reason to visit parts of the coast we might otherwise never get to. I wonder where we'll end up next?

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