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Walking the Causeway Coast and Glens of Antrim 42

Walking the Causeway Coast and Glens of Antrim

Overview

Follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick on a pilgrimage walking trail offering some of the best walking in Northern Ireland. 

Explore Northern Ireland’s rugged beauty and most enchanting landscapes on this self guided walking holiday. Sense the majestic Glens of Antrim, that run from the Antrim Plateau to the coast, where nature has put on full display the beauty of Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway is a spectacular area on the sea coast at the edge of the Antrim plateau. It is made up of approximately 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea and is caused by volcanic activity during the Tertiary, some 50–60 million years ago. Admire the mythical stories, shaped and inspired by the dramatic coastline and appreciate the warm and hospitable people you will meet along the way. Visit some lovely villages such as Bushmills, famous for its whisky distillery and Portstewart.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Cushendall

Your tour begins in the seaside village of Cushendall, the capital of the Glens. It is a lively centre of festivals, music, dance or craic as the Irish called having a good time. Enjoy spectacular views across the sea of Moyle to the Mull of Kintyre on the Scottish coast, which is just over 20 miles away.

Day 2: Glenariff Nature Reserve and Forest Park to Waterfoot | 15-18 km / 9-11 mi

After breakfast, a bus will take you to the entrance of Glenariff Forest Park. The wide variety of the landscape, woodlands and habitats that are to be found within Glenariff Forest Park provide you with a superb walk through the natural beauty. Enjoy the tranquillity and admire the spectacular views down the glen; across the sea of Moyle and beyond to the Scottish Mountains. Follow the Glenariff River through the glen to the village of Waterfoot and back to your accommodation in Cushendall.

  • Walking for the day: 15-18 km, 4-5 hours, ↑285 m
  • Accommodation: The Village B&B or similar

Day 3: Orra Beg to Ballycastle | 17.6 km / 11 mi

A short transfer will take you to the beginning of your walk at Orra Beg; an intersection of the Moyle Way that takes you north to Ballycastle along the Moyle Way. This section of the trail is mixed between forest trails; quiet country roads and open mountains. Reach the open mountainside of Agangarrive Hill. Follow the Glenshesk River banks to join the Breen Forest Trail, a Nature Reserve and Woodlands. Take the quiet country road along with the townland of Glenshesk, the most northern of the 9-glens, and you will be rewarded with some fantastic views of the Glenshesk River and Coolaveely Forest on your right and Knocklayd Mountain on your left. The final section of the day takes you through Ballycastle Forest and finally into the town of Ballycastle where you will spend the next two nights.

Day 4: Rathlin Island | 14 km / 8.6 mi

Take a 45-minute ferry ride from Ballycastle to Rathlin (£12 pp return, not included). The 10 km long island is a rare place of wild and natural beauty, extraordinary environmental values and social interests. Three lighthouses stand as monuments to its wild coastline while over 40 recorded shipwrecks lie in the depths of its underwater cliffs. Rathlin is home to hundreds of seals and thousands of nesting seabirds. Returning to Ballycastle on the evening ferry.

Day 5: Ballycastle to Ballintoy | 14 km / 8.6 mi

Walk to Ballintoy on quiet country lanes, through woodland and farming communities of Craignagolman and Ballaghcravey. At the end of the hike, near the Game of Thrones featured Ballintoy Harbour, there is the option of crossing the 80ft high world famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 4 hours, ↑110 m 
  • Accommodation: The Castle B&B or similar

Day 6: Ballintoy to the Giant’s Causeway | 17.6 km / 11 mi

Leaving Ballintoy, you will pass the golden sandy beaches of White Park Bay, the ruins of Dunseverick Castle and along the cliff path around Benbane Head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and nature reserve of The Giant’s Causeway, known to the Irish as the 8th Wonder of the World. Continue to Bushfoot Strand to your overnight accommodation.

Day 7: Giant’s Causeway to Portstewart | 19 km / 11.8 mi

Follow the coastal road to Portrush passing along the way Binbane Cove, Dunluce Castle, the Burfoot and the White Rocks and then descending onto Curran Strand. From here you will make your way to the town of Portrush for a little relaxing and maybe an ice-cream before your final leg of the walk to your accommodation in Portstewart.

Day 8: Departure

Your tour ends after a hearty breakfast, and you begin your onward journey.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming B&Bs and guesthouses. They have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere, cuisine and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Note that it is sometimes necessary to accommodate you a short walk away from the trail itself, as there is not always suitable accommodation close to the trail. Details will be given in your pre-departure info pack.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village inns and restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

This itinerary is suitable for those walkers who do not have much experience covering long distances, with average levels of fitness and good health (read more about difficulty grades). The routes are waymarked, and the itinerary is easy to follow. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from early April till the end of October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season. Northern Ireland’s climate is oceanic, with cold, rainy winters and mild summers. Atlantic weather fronts move relentlessly one after another over the country, resulting in a rapid succession of cloudiness and sunshine, rain showers and subsequent improvements. The temperature usually becomes relatively mild by the second half of May, when, however, nights can still be quite cold. In return, spring is the least rainy season and the sunniest of the year. The best time to visit Antrim Glens & Causeway Coast is from June to August since it is the mildest of the year. The temperatures are generally suitable for outdoor activities, although it’s better to bring a sweatshirt or sweater for the evening or chilly days.

Getting there

Up-to-date travel advice on the United Kingdom is available here (for Canadian citizens) and here (for US citizens).

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Belfast (BFS).

By train or bus
  • Belfast International Airport is easily accessible by various means of transport. On your arrival take bus 109a towards Antrim (15 min), then hop on the train to Ballymena for a 15 min journey. At Ballymena bus station take bus 150 towards Cushendall (45 min).
  • Going back to the airport will take you approx. 2h 30 min. From Portstewart take bus 140b towards Coleraine (20 min), followed by 218 towards Antrim Buscentre (10 min) and then the Translink 109A to the airport (10 min).
  • For more information, tickets and timetables, visit NI Railways and Translink Ulsterbus or use the Omio planner above.
  • Ferry from Liverpool to Belfast: Twice daily direct link from the heart of England to Northern Ireland with crossing time approximately 8 hours with a choice of both day and night sailings.
  • From Cairnryan to Belfast: Sail between Scotland and Northern Ireland 6 times daily in a crossing time from only 2 hours 15 minutes so you can travel when it suits you. Visit StenaLine for more information.
  • Private airport transfers are available upon request.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in private en-suite rooms (B&Bs and guesthouses)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information (Causeway Coast Maps and waterproof route notes, details of restaurants and places of interest along the way)
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 20 kg per person)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Ferry to Rathlin Island
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request

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