Antrim, Northern Ireland  

Antrim, Northern Ireland
June 11 - 18, 2023

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 June.  We will be treated to beautiful sea views from our hotel located right on the coast near the village of Portrush.

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!

  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

Sunday, June 11
We will meet at The Flint hotel in downtown Belfast. We then drive north, about 2 hours, to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge where we will meet our guide, Paul Quinn. The Carrick-a-Rede bridge is a National Trust site. The bridge is about 65 feet long and 100 feet high and connects the mainland to the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede. The bridge was originally built by fishermen so they could check their salmon nets on the island. The trail total is 1.5 miles return from the ticket office to the island. Some picnic tables near the ticket office offer a lunch spot. Then our walk continues to Ballintoy Harbor where we meet our bus. We will be driven to Benvardin Gardens, described as one of the finest and best maintained gardens in Northern Ireland. Following the garden visit we will drive west to the Royal Court Hotel, our hotel for the week, on the coast near the village of Portrush.
Hiking distance: 5 miles. Elevation gain: minimal. Total Drive Time: 2.5 hours.

Monday, June 12
We drive east to hike 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 Scenic Trail. 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 feet elevation to 850 feet. From this point there are views of the Glens and of the Mull of Kintyre across the sea in Scotland. Finally, you trek across moorland returning with spectacular views down the Glen to the coast beyond. On our way back to the hotel we will stop for a visit at Chestnutt Farm, an interesting local dairy farm.
Hiking distance: 8.5 miles. Elevation gain: 800 ft. Total drive time: 2 hours.

Tuesday, June 13
We will drive to Ballycastle to take the morning ferry (45 mins ferry journey) out to Rathlin Island (population 150). We will take a short bus ride to the island's seabird center. Our lunch today is hosted by a local family in their home! Following lunch our guide will take us around the bay past the kelp store and seal colonies then heading south towards Rue Point Lighthouse. We will enjoy great views looking back to the mainland and the coast of the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland 11 miles away.
Hiking distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain: 500 ft. Total drive time: 1 hour.

Wednesday, June 14
Today is officially a "free day". Options for this day include taking a train to the historic walled city of Derry, visiting the Bushmills Distillery in Bushmills or walking the beach 2 miles to the small village of Portrush. There is a cafe at the Distillery if you wish to have lunch. Otherwise, there are a couple of cafes in Bushmills village itself as well as Portrush.

Thursday, June 15
We will drive to Portballintrae. The Antrim Coast path is widely considered one of the best coast 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. The landscape around the coast here is breath taking, with unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean and Scotland. This is a linear hike: you will be collected in the bus at the end of the hike at the harbor at Dunseverick.
Hiking distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain: 300 ft. Total drive time: 40 mins.

Friday, June 16
Today we will drive to the pretty seaside village of Waterfoot, close to Glenariff where we hiked previously. The bus will drop us off at a pull-out "layby" on the famous Antrim Coast Road. We then hike the short distance to an abandoned 19th century village or "clachan". Our guide will tell us of the lives of the village people from the 1840's to 1950's.farming, no tractors then, eating limpets (snail variety) and working in a quarry. Our return is via Cushendall, walking on its lovely beach. A final brief stop is to check out an authentic Round Tower. We will return to the hotel to freshen up for our dinner. Tonight we have dinner in a private 19th century residence in the village of Ballymoney.
Hiking distance: 4-5 miles. Elevation gain: 300 ft. Drive time: 3 hours over the course of the day.

Saturday, June 17
We'll begin the day at Castlerock Promenade. We'll walk by The Twelve Apostles where our guide will share a background story. We'll then walk through Black Glen and on to Mussenden Temple We'll end the walk at Lion's Gate where we'll re-board the bus and if time permits, we'll make a brief stop at the scenic Downhill Beach before returning to the hotel.
Hiking distance: 4 - 5 miles. Elevation gain: 100 ft. Total drive time: 1.5 hrs.

Sunday, June 18
After breakfast we will drive 60 miles to Belfast to arrive at the train station by 9:00AM.

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