8 Day Glens of Antrim & Giant Causeway Walking Holiday
This fabulous Self Guided Walking Holiday in Northern Ireland follows a waymarked walking route along the Moyle Way in the Glens of Antrim and the dramatic Giant Causeway coastline from Cushendall via Ballycastle to Portstewart.
8 Day Self Guided Walking Holiday: Giant Causeway & Glens of Antrim
Your hikes will take you across the Glens, through forests, sandy white beaches as well as rocky bays, high cliffs, quaint seaside resorts and small fishing villages. Visit the World Heritage Site and National Nature Reserve of the Giant’s Causeway, the ruins of Dunluce, Dunseverick and Kinbane Castles and if you dare cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
Hike the Moyle Way in the Glens of Antrim
The Glens of Antrim North of Belfast are truly magical and are best discovered on foot while walking the Moyle way. One of the best-kept tourism secrets in Northern Ireland it is a magical place with varied landscapes scenic beauty and the warmest of welcomes. Rich in culture, tradition and history the 9 Glens are the jewels in Ulsters crown.
The Moyle Way runs for 43km through the heart of the world-famous Glens of Antrim a land of geology, wildlife, history, myths and folklore. The Moyle Way is a waymarked route between Glenariff and Ballycastle. This walking route winds through scenics Glens and valleys and mountains that are part of the Glens ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.
The journey passes through a great variety of scenery and reaches its high point near the summit of Trostan. Highlights include views of Rathlin and the Scottish Islands, Breen Oakwood, unspoilt blanket bog, standing stones, cairns and Glenariff Forest Park.
Visiting Rathlin Island just six miles north of Ballycastle is a must for all outdoor and nature lovers. It is no wonder that it is so popular with birdwatchers, geologists and anyone with a love of wild and rugged landscapes. The island is ideal for both walking and cycling (rent a bike on the Island) and enjoys puffins, guillemots and razorbills that make the cliffs and sea stacks their nesting sites from early spring to summer.
Rambling the Causeway Coast Route
The Giant Causeway coast with its rugged and windswept cliffs, gorgeous scenery and unspoilt beaches is best known for the hexagonal basalt columns. But there are many interesting and beautiful places to visit while hiking along this coastline, for instance, the cliffs of Torr Head, Fair Head and Benbane Head, the vanishing lake of Loughareema and the fishermen’s rope bridge across to Carrickarede Island.
Day 1 – Arrival in Cushendall
Make your way to the quaint seaside village of Cushendall where our host will welcome you at your first accommodation. Whenever you arrive earlier in the day, there are several looped walks in and around Cushendall village to enjoy and stretch the legs. Overnight in Cushendall.
Day 2 – Hike from Glenariff Forest Park to Cushendall
After a hearty Irish breakfast, we bring you to Glenariff Forest Park where you will be able to choose from various circular walks through ancient forests and past breathtaking waterfalls before hiking out of the Glen back to the coast and your B&B in Cushendall. Overnight in Cushendall.
Walk: Distance: 15 km – 4 hours – climb: 172m – descent: 344m – max elevation: 280m. Forestry / grass tracks and minor roads.
Day 3 – Hike on the Moyle Way; Orra Beg to Ballycastle
You will be transferred to the start of your walk on the Moyle Way near Agangarrive and Orra Beg from where you will follow the waymarked Moyle Way to Ballycastle; this outstanding hike combines woodlands, Glens and fantastic views of the coast. Overnight in Ballycastle where your baggage awaits in your B&B.
Walk: Approx. 19 km / 5,5 hours / height difference 350m, forestry roads and quiet country roads, parts can be wet underfoot9
Day 4: Rathlin Island
From your B&B it is a short walk to the Ferry wich will take you to Rathlin Island. The island with its colonies of seabirds (puffins, guillemots and razorbills along with kittiwakes and fulmars) is L-shaped and offers a variety of walks. You can also rent a bike if you prefer to visit the RSPB lighthouse and see the puffins up close. Returning to your B&B in Ballycastle for the night.
Walk: 4-7 km. / 2–3 hours / Max. height: 100m. Walking along; roads, beach and grassy tracks.
Day 5: Walk from Ballycastle to Ballintoy
From your B&B in Ballycastle you will walk out of the town and follow quiet country roads, and forest tracks make your way to Carrick-a-rede, and it’s rope bridge before ending in Ballintoy.
The bridge spans an 80-foot deep gorge that renders Carrick-a-Rede island; a must do for every visitor and gives a fitting exciting culmination to an easy day’s walk. Overnight at Ballintoy.
Walk: 14 km. / 4 hours. Max. Height: 120m. Grass & Forest tracks and some road walking.
Day 6: Walk from Ballintoy to the Giant Causeway and Bushmills
We walk back to the Carrick-a-rede carpark to continue along the best coastal walk in Ireland by far! With its diverse geology and spectacular views across to Scotland and walks along cliffs and white sandy beaches, the Giant Causeway coastal route is truly in a class of its own!
Not far from Ballintoy Harbour (now notably famous for its scenes in the Game of Thrones t.v series) you come to the beautiful beach of White Park Bay which ends at Portbraddan, with Ireland’s tiniest church measuring just 12ft by 6.5ft. Next is Dunseverick Castle leading to the cliff-top path and on to the Giant’s Causeway. Overnight at Portballintrae/Bushmills.
Walk: 18 km / 5 hours /Max. Height: 120m. Grass tracks, beach and road walking. (Some parts of this walk are tidal so please take note of high tide – See walking route notes)
Day 7: Hike from Portballintrae to Portstewart
On your final walk in Northern Ireland, you follow the coastal road to Portrush via Magheracross viewpoint and Dunluce Castle. Shortly after the castle, you continue on to Whiterocks beach, and a path leads around Ramore Head and Portrush Harbour. Following the last part of the way marked way and along Mill Strand you continue along the coastline ending in Portstewart. Overnight at Portstewart.
Walk: 18 km. / 5 hours / Max. Height: 120m. Walking along; roads, beach and grassy tracks.
After breakfast and farewell at Portstewart, you commence your homeward journey.
An excellent walking holiday where we often imagined ourselves in a fairy tale landscape. The walking routes took us past waterfalls, narrow tracks in the woods, quiet country roads and walks along the beautiful Causeway coast. We highly recommend visiting Rathlin Island.
While hiking, you meet very few people along the route, which is nice. The villages where we stayed were buzzing and busier on the coast. The accommodation was excellent with hospitable hosts that were always willing to advise on the best places to eat etc.
In Ballintoy there was a live performance when stayed there which interfered with our sleep, but we booked an extra night to visit Belfast which was a great end to our Holiday.
We booked our walking holiday (group 8 people) through Cliff from Walking Ireland for August 2015. The whole schedule was changed for our group.We included Derry. When we arrived at Belfast Airport the taxibus was outside waiting for us. All the B&B’s were absolutely fabulous. Our luggage was transported for us so all we had to do was walk. We loved the routes, the views and the people. Very friendly and helpful. Even the weather was great. Don’t know if Cliff had anything to do with that.
With 15 nordicwalkers we arrived at the Ballymascanlon Hotel near Dundalk, a very good Hotel in the middle of a Golf course. The whole week we were transferred in a little bus with a private chauffeur. We walked four times (15 – 20 km),with and without Cliff, in the Cooley and Mourne Mountains in Ireland and North-Ireland. One evening we met the real Irish musicians. And we eat in a real Irish steakrestaurant, The last day we visit Dublin, where we stayed in the middle of the town, very nice. All was very good organised bij Cliff
We are already a few days at home and look back on a wonderful time in N. Ireland. The 500 + stunning photos have been downloaded (perhaps one of the reasons for our slow walking pace). All B&Bs were excellent, good beds, nice breakfast, quiet location and very friendly and helpful hosts. It was very special to really meet no one on the Moyle Way to the crossing of the B?? towards Ballycastle forest. We have had 2 wonderful meals in the Anzac restaurant in Ballycastle after two wonderful days walking. The combination of your descriptions and the maps worked perfectly. Also only praise for the B&Bs in Cushendall and Portstewart they were super cozy. The last walk to Portstewart was also brilliant. It was dry but very windy. Yesterday was a magnificent walk with the great views and surroundings. Again, it was a great experience for us, the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone, including yourself, made a great impression on us.
For our walking holiday in the Cooley & Mournes we advise the following airport(s):
Alternatives: Dublin Airport
For advise on public transport in Northern Ireland please visit: http://translink.co.uk