By: Blonde Two
I have commented before that city dwellers must be all be very fit because of the amount of walking they have to do and my recent trip to Belfast hasn’t changed my opinion. My time researching and writing for the new Ordnance Survey Walk London map has taught me the importance of celebrating our urban green and blue spaces so I was pleased to find out that Belfast has plenty to offer the urban explorer. So much that Mr B2 and I are determined to visit again. City walking routes are often fascinating and Belfast is no exception. On this trip we walked the Titanic Trail but Belfast also has beautiful Botanic Gardens, walking routes along the River Laggan and walks around the Stormont Estate. All of this is before you leave the city for the hills, which you can see all around tempting you to explore.
The Belfast Titanic Walking Trail
I have never met anyone who wasn’t interested in the story of the Titanic disaster but the terrible hours that followed her collision with the iceberg are in one sense only a small part of Titanic’s story. This is a story that started in Belfast and you could say that, with the building of the Titanic Experience, and the presence of her tender Nomadic, the White Star Line’s last remaining ship, the story has ended there too.
There was plenty of modern-day activity to see as we wandered over the Laggan Weir Bridge towards the Titanic Quarter but we found our feet moving more quickly as we were drawn towards the docks. Our first port of call was the Nomadic and the fascinating graving dock in which she now sits. A beautiful boat and sadly now the only opportunity (with a Titanic Experience ticket) to get a hands-on feel of what travelling on and working aboard a White Star Line ship might have been like.
We were both surprised by how much time we spent inside the Titanic Experience itself. This mixed media experience took us through some of the history of Belfast and the Belfast ship building industry before giving far deeper insight into Titanic the ship than I had had previously. Housed in a striking building that is around the same height as the Titanic herself, this isn’t a cheap experience but we both agreed it was one we would pay for again.
However by far my favourite Titanic Trail moment was an outdoor one. The building is right next to the twin docks where Titanic and her sister Olympic were built and launched. The layout of the Titanic is marked out on the concrete and next to it a sensitive grass and decking memorial to demonstrate the people from each class who died and survived the disaster. As I walked slowly along the dock I had my first realisation of exactly how big this ship had been. Numbers and measurements are one thing but actually pacing along and then turning around to see the height of the building was an astounding and moving experience. No wonder everyone on board thought they were safe. And no wonder 100,000 people came to see her launch.
The Belfast Titanic Trail was a truly moving experience and one I can recommend. There are plenty of things in Belfast that should be remembered and this is definitely one of them. I look forward to returning and finding out more about this historic city.