|The Antrim Glens & Causeway Coast Independent walking vacation Ireland|
If you are a dedicated naturalist you will not want to miss Rathlin Island, a hidden treasure that lies just over six miles north of the pretty seaside resort of Ballycastle and 14 miles from the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland.The island is reached by ferry from Ballycastle and takes 45 minutes.
It is extremely popular with birdwatchers, geologists, botanists, divers, sea-anglers and anyone with a love of wild and rugged scenery.
From early spring to late summer Rathlin is awash with floral colour and the Atlantic nomads – puffins, guillemots and razorbills make the cliffs and sea stacks their nestling sites in summer.
There are few cars on the island so the roads are quiet and ideal for walking or cycling.
The Causeway Coast
It is one of the most dramatic coastlines in the world passing rugged and windswept cliffs, spectacular scenery and fabulous unspoilt beaches.
SHORT BREAK WALKING HOLIDAY OF RATHLIN ISLAND & THE CAUSEWAY COAST
Now Available...A 3-5 day mini break walking holiday of the famous Causeway Coast. Your holiday begins in the coastal town of Ballycastle where you have the option of staying for an extra night and visiting Rathlin Island. See details of each day’s walk below and as cost will vary depending on the number of days you choose please contact the office by phone or e-mail for prices.
Day 1 - You begin your holiday with a meet and greet in the picturesque village of Broughshane.
Day 2 – today’s distance – 7 miles – average walking time - 4 hours
Orra Beg to Glenariff Forest Park
After a hearty breakfast you are driven by coach to Orra Beg, an intersection on the Moyle Way to begin your walking tour. Today you are heading south to Glenariff Forest Park passing Slieveanorra Nature Reserve, which has spectacular views over the glens. The area also plays host to a great variety of birds from red grouse, ravens, hen harriers and birds of prey. From Slieveanorra you carry on over open moorland for Trossan Mountain and on to Glenariff Nature Reserve and Forest Park with its visitor centre, nature trails and famous waterfalls. From here you will be collected and returned to your evening accommodation.
Day 3 – today’s distance – 11 miles – average walking time - 5 hours
Orra Beg to Ballycastle
Today you return to Orra Beg and head north for Ballycastle. Continuing on the Moyle Way the route is divided into three sections. The first part of the walk descends along a forest track to a point where it meets the Glenshesk River. From here you follow the river along the valley until it meets the boundary of Breen forest. Along the way you will come to a small waterfall and pool that marks the site of McQuillan’s gravestone on the opposite bank of the river. This is where a McQuillan chief fell after being defeated at the battle of Orra in 1559. You leave the river at this point and follow the forest track as it leads through the Breen Oakwood Nature Reserve and Wood.
The next section of the route follows the country road along the Glenshesk valley offering views of the Glenshesk River, Knocklayd Mountain and Coolaveely wood.
The final part of today’s walk takes you into Ballycastle Forest where you descend along a good forest path into Ballycastle. At the beginning of the descent there are magnificent panoramic views of Rathlin Island, the Sea of Moyle, Mull of Kintyre, Jura and Islay. It is also home to an abundance of birds and wildlife that include jay, goldcrest, fox, badger and squirrel.
Day 4 – today’s distance – variable
Rathlin, described as a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered is an L shaped island, one side is four miles long, the other three and is nowhere more that a mile across.
A short day in terms of miles to be walked but a naturalist’s delight. Choose between three walks varying from 1.5 miles to 4 miles.
Visit the RSPB West Light Viewpoint to see the puffins, guillemots and razorbills along with kittiwakes and fulmars, which together make up the largest seabird colony in Europe.
Walk the trails to the old Coastguard Look Out to see the East Lighthouse which high above the legendary ‘Bruce’s Cave’ at Altacarry Head, has been flashing a warning to mariners since 1856.
Spend some time in the Boathouse Visitor Centre for a dip into Rathlin’s history.
Day 5 – today’s distance – 6 miles – average walking time - 3 hours
Ballycastle to Ballintoy
Today’s walk takes you along the coastal road from Ballycastle to your evening stopover at Ballintoy. It’s a rolling road with ample vantage points to view the magnificence of the Antrim coastline. As you continue along the route you will come to Larrybane with its visitor centre and access to the world famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The bridge spans an 80 foot deep chasm that renders Carrick-a-Rede island, a must do for every visitor and gives a fitting dramatic finale to an exhilarating day’s walk. From here it is only a short distance by the coastal path to the little village of Ballintoy. The little harbour at the foot of the cliffs is well worth a visit.
Day 6 – today’s distance – 11 miles – average walking time - 5 to 6 hours
Ballintoy to Portballintrae
"Before you lies one of the finest walks that an ordinary pedestrian can experience anywhere in the wide world"
An extract from Ulster Rambles by Peter Wright
The best coastal walk in Ireland - bar none!
Varied geology, views across to Scotland, cliff and beach walks, the Giant’s Causeway and Ireland’s smallest church are all to be found on today’s route.
Setting off along the coastal path from Ballintoy harbour you very soon come to the beautiful strand of White Park Bay, over a mile of splendid golden beach. Then on to Portbraddan, with Ireland’s tiniest church measuring only 12ft by 6.5ft. Continuing on eastward you come to the ruins of Dunseverick Castle – capital of the fabulous kingdom of Dalriada. From here you continue along the cliff-top path round Benbane Head, passing Port na Spaniagh where the Armada treasure ship Girona sank in 1588 and on to the Giant’s Causeway. From here follow the cliff top path which leads to Portballintrae and your evening accommodation or as an alternative there is a shorter route along a pleasant path and through golflinks to end this most splendid of walks.
Day 7 - today’s distance – 12mls / 19.5km - average walking time 5-6 hours
Portballintrae to Portstewart
Your final day’s walk begins on the coastal road to Portrush passing Dunluce Castle and Magheracross viewpoint. Shortly you come to Whiterocks beach and then a formal pathway at the far side of the beach leads you up around Ramore Head and finishing at Portrush harbour. Your walk continues along Mill Strand beach and then following the Causeway markers the route continues along the coastline ending at the promenade in Portstewart.
Day 8 - After a final breakfast and farewell you commence your homeward journey.
Irish Cycle Tours & Walks reserve the right to alter this itinerary due to weather conditions or the walking ability of individuals or groups.