Antrim, Northern Ireland  

Antrim, Northern Ireland
June 13-20, 2020

County Antrim is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Irish Sea. The Antrim Coast is a stunning stretch of coastline and it will be our home during the long days of light in mid-June. We will be treated to beautiful sea views from the Bayview Hotel located right on the coast in the small harbor town of Portballintrae.

Antrim, Northern IrelandOur hikes on some days will be directly from our hotel while other days we will use our bus to get to a starting point. The hikes range from 5-8 miles in length and have mainly moderate elevation gain. Our hikes will include the Glens of Antrim, coastal walks, small harbors and a day trip to Rathlin Island. Rathlin Island was the first place to have a wireless (work of Marconi in 1898) and is home to seal colonies and a variety of seabirds.

Antrim, Northern IrelandOur week will also include visits to the geological marvel of Northern Ireland—the Giant’s Causeway—numerous basalt stepping stones that could be a walkway for giants. We will visit Dunluce Castle, ruined in 1639 when its kitchen including the staff fell into the sea! On our “free day we have the option of a visit to Bushmills Distillery, the world’s oldest legal distillery.

  Antrim, Northern Ireland Antrim, Northern Ireland
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Antrim, Northern Ireland

Day by Day Overview

Saturday, June 13 – We will be met at a hotel in Belfast then journey 60 miles north to the North Coast of Ireland and County Antrim. Our first hike will take us along the Causeway Coast path to Ballintoy Harbor (eastern approach) then the Fair Head and Murlough Bay area. Our hiking day will conclude with a walk across the Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge –a National Trust site (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carrick-a-rede). The bridge is about 65 feet long and 100 feet high and connects the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. We will then check into our hotel: Bayview Hotel in Portballintrae.

Distance: 5-6 miles, elevation gain 800ft. Total drive time: 2 hr. 30 min
Lodging: Bayview Hotel - www.bayviewhotelni.com

Sunday, June 14
We will hike directly from the door of the hotel to Dunseverick Castle. (www.castles.nl/dunseverick-castle) The Antrim Coast path is widely considered one of the best coastal walks in Europe. We begin by crossing the River Bush at Bushfoot Beach. Incorporated in this day of hiking is the World Heritage site of the Giant’s Causeway. (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway) The landscape around the coast here is breath taking, with unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean from the cliff path, and fine views to Scotland and the Scottish Islands of Islay and Jura. Closer in is Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island. This is a linear hike: we will be collected in the bus at the end of the hike at the harbour at Dunseverick.

Distance: 7 miles; Elevation gain: 300’. Total drive time: 30 min

Monday, June 15
Today we pick up where we left off at Dunseverick Harbour and hike on to Ballintoy harbor (western approach). We will have clearer views today of Rathlin Island. Leaving Dunseverick Harbour we will hike through the tiny village of Portbraddan (the Port of the Salmon). The route follows the sweeping sand beach of White Park Bay, then around a headland of jumbled rocks and sea stacks to the very scenic harbour of Ballintoy - a hidden gem with a small beach. If you need refreshment, Roark’s cafe is right there at the beach. In recent times, the harbour has been used as a location for the TV series Game of Thrones.

Distance: 5 miles; Elevation gain: 200’. Total drive time: 40 min

Tuesday, June 16
Today is officially a “free day”. Option of walking one mile into Bushmills to visit the Bushmills Distillery (www.bushmills.com/distillery). (£9 per person entry includes a free whiskey sample). There is also a cafe at the Distillery if you wish to have lunch. Otherwise, there are a couple of cafes in Bushmills village itself.

Wednesday, June 17
We will drive to Ballycastle to take the morning ferry (45 mins ferry journey) out to Rathlin Island (population 75). (https://rathlinballycastleferry.com) Our guide, Paul, will take us out around the bay and along by the kelp factory heading south towards Rue Point Lighthouse. We head out from the main village of Rathlin passing seal colonies on the way and taking cliff paths and inland paths. We will enjoy great views looking back to the mainland and the coast of the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland 11 miles away.

Distance: 6 miles; Elevation gain: 500’. Total drive time: 1 hr

Thursday, June 18
Our hike today is at the Glens of Antrim at Glenarriff Forest Park (a 2928 acre forest in County Antrim). There are nine glens (valleys) in Antrim, and Glenariff is known as the “Queen of the Glens”. Part of the hike today will feature the Waterfall Walkway: a 3-mile trail which passes through a National Nature Reserve. The rest of the hike takes you down the Inver River gorge in mature woodland. Once you cross the river at the bottom of the trail, there is a winding climb from about 200’ elevation to 850’. From this point there are views of the Glens and of the Mull of Kintyre across the sea in Scotland. Finally we trek across moorland returning with spectacular views down the Glen to the coast beyond.

Distance 8.5 miles; Elevation gain 1200’. Total drive time: 1 hr 40 min

Friday, June 19
Our first stop this morning will be Dunluce Castle, just a couple of miles west of Portballintrae. This castle was occupied by the McDonnell clan and ruined in 1639 when the kitchen and all its staff fell into the sea! The remains are at a magnificent location on the edge of a cliff. After the visit to Dunluce we head over to Limavady for a 7 mile hike at Roe Valley Country Park: a route along the banks of the River Roe through woodland.

Distance 7 miles; Elevation gain 300’. Total drive time: 2hrs.

Saturday, June 20 - After breakfast we will drive 60 miles to Belfast Airport to arrive there by 10:00AM.


Please Note: The above schedule is subject to change due to weather or other circumstances beyond our control.