Ireland day 0899. Friday 15 March 2024- Belfast Departure *

Ireland day 0899. Friday 15 March 2024- Belfast Departure
Today’s summary After breakfast in the hotel, we walked down to the Lagan River for a short stroll along its banks. Had a good look at the remarkable Big Fish. Then drove about 20 min West to look at the Northern Ireland Assembly buildings at Stormont. Very interesting and enjoyed reading about the various attempts to form a representative body that could actually govern Northern Ireland. None seems to have been 100% successful. Just time for a cup of tea in the café after the visit then a quick and straightforward drive back south to Malahide.
Today’s weather Mostly dry with long sunny periods. Moderate north westerly wind. Appx 10c.
Today’s overview location
(The green mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The orange line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):

(Summary blog only.   Last full blog was Day 0368).

Our final day in and around Belfast today. We wanted to make the most of it and weren’t in any particular rush to get back to Malahide. So we had a relatively leisurely breakfast in the hotel, then sauntered over to the Lagan river to take a look at the various quayside developments. The curious Big Fish was looking impressive. Especially as the sun had come out and yesterday’s rain had washed the sky a sparking blue.

After having a good look round, we checked out of the hotel recovered the car from the valet parking, and drove about 20 minutes west from the city centre to have a look at the Northern Ireland Assembly buildings at Stormont.

It’s a very striking place. A massive building in white Portland marble sitting at the top of a hill, and approached by a drive about 1.5km / a mile long. You can’t enter by car, so we parked by a shop in a side street (where incidentally we did manage to find some passable Empire Biscuit lookalikes) and then entered the Stormont Estate on foot.

It’s a reasonable climb up to the top of the drive but the views are impressive and as you get closer, you can feel the building‘s dominating presence. Members of the public can enter the building via a security scan in a checkpoint to the side. It’s definitely worth making the effort to go in, as the interior is extremely well done.

The meeting rooms and debating chambers are nicely set up, without being ancient or gauche. Perhaps the most fascinating part is the history, in panels on the walls, of the various bodies that have sat here over the last 100 years and which have attempted to govern the province of Northern Ireland. None seem to have been especially successful and the most recent incarnation – the Northern Ireland Assembly – has been beset with difficulties of its own until recently. It feels like there is still some way to go before a lasting, stable, solution is found.

We were in need of refreshments by this stage so got a cup of tea (and a slice of millionaire’s shortbread) in the friendly café before heading out of the estate back to the car. Actually finding our way out was more complicated than we had expected. We had wanted to make a circular walk out of it but kept running into security fences. So we ended up walking further than we had intended, until we eventually found another manned checkpoint where we could escape.

The journey back down the motorway to Malahide was straightforward and quick – just long enough to listen to a couple of podcasts along the way. We picked up a Chinese pop-pop meal at the M&S which has recently opened in the local Applegreen petrol station, so now it’s time to fire up the microwave and sit back to reflect on a most interesting and thought provoking few days north of the border and out of Europe.

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

The Big Fish on the western bank of the Lagan.   To be honest, I really don’t know what it’s for, but it’s impressive – at least 6metres / 20 ft long On the way in to Stormont.   The Assembly building is at the top of the hill behind us
View from the steps of the Assembly, looking back down the approach road Inside the main entrance hall
One of the many exhibits on the Assembly’s walls.  A cartoon of the day, lampooning Lloyd-George’s attempts to partition Ireland Stormont Castle – it’s separate from the Assembly buildings, but still part of the Estate.   the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, when there was one, lived here
The Assembly Chamber – where the assembly sits to debate issues in a u-shaped seating arrangement – so designed to be less combative
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 6619 m
Max elevation: 83 m
Min elevation: 24 m
Total climbing: 128 m
Total descent: -128 m
Total time: 03:32:24
Download file: Stormont-Compressed-corrected.gpx

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