Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

A distant shot of the famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge on the North Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, suspended 100ft above the Atlantic Ocean:

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

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Dunluce Castle

This magnificent 17th century castle, perched dramatically on the North Antrim coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, was the seat of the MacDonnell Clan:

Dunluce Castle, Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

Dark Hedges

This iconic avenue of 18th century beech trees known as the Dark Hedges is only a few miles inland from the Causeway Coast in North Antrim, Northern Ireland. Fans of the brilliant HBO series “Game of Thrones” may well recognise this location as The Kingsroad:

Dark Hedges, Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK

Dark Hedges, Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK

Dark Hedges, Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

Giant’s Causeway

We’ve recently returned from a whistle stop visit to Northern Ireland including a couple of days in Belfast and one day on the North Antrim coast which is perhaps most renowned for the world famous Giant’s Causeway.

This spectacular landscape is made up of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Science explains that this geological wonder is the result of ancient volcanic activity, but I prefer to believe the more romantic stories of myth and legend which tell of the mighty giant Finn McCool who carved the causeway out of the rocky coastline.

Whatever you choose to believe, the Giant’s Causeway is a truely remarkable place and definitely deserves it’s place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

Hampton Court Palace

Below is a gallery of images from our trip last year to Hampton Court, the world-famous historic royal palace on the banks of the river Thames about 13 miles southwest of central London.

The palace did not start out as a royal residence. It was built from 1516 onwards by Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor and Chief Minister. However in 1528, in a vain attempt to ingratiate himself to the notoriously fickle monarch, Wolsey gifted the palace to the king. Henceforth Hampton Court has enjoyed a long and prestigious association with the British royal family.

Henry spent vast fortunes on the palace, literally ensuring that it was fit for a king and his royal court. Subsequent monarchs from Elizabeth I through to Charles II also adapted the buildings to suit their needs. However it was William and Mary and finally Queen Anne who, in the decades either side of 1700, hired Christopher Wren (the architect responsible for St Paul’s Cathedral in London) to radically remodel the east and south wings in a style inspired by Versailles, Louis XIV’s famous palace outside Paris.

Unsurprisingly two centuries of almost constant building and re-development has resulted in a vast, sprawling complex of buildings with a mix of architectural styles. So although aesthetically it may not be the most beautiful palace in the world, it’s rich and fascinating history as the main royal residence of both the Tudors and Stuarts (two of the most famous British royal dynasties) is undeniable.

Under the early Hanovarian kings of Great Britain from George I who came to the throne in 1714 to George III who died in 1820, Hampton Court gradually fell out of favour as a royal residence with both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle being preferred. In 1838 the palace, it’s grounds and the vast expanse of the surrounding Bushy Park was opened to the public, and it has continued as a major tourist attraction ever since.

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

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