An Exploration of Northern Ireland’s Nine Glens of Antrim

Why we should all visit the 9 Glens of Antrim

Get ready to explore the enchanting Nine Glens of Antrim, an essential part of Northern Ireland’s attraction list. Each of the nine Glens in Antrim has a unique character and story, offering breathtaking scenery, historic sites, and wildlife treasures. In this blog post, we will take you on a tour of each of the nine glens and their attractions.

A Spotlight on the Breathtaking Natural Beauty of the Coast & Glens

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1988 under the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (NI) Order, the Antrim Coast & Glens encapsulate a world of remarkable scenery. This stunning landscape stretches from the coastal town of Larne, wraps around the awe-inspiring Glens of Antrim, and reaches out to the rustic charm of Ballycastle, further extending its majesty to Rathlin Island.

Uncover the hidden gems of Ireland, the wonder that is the Glens of Antrim. Dive into the blend of history, mythology, and natural beauty that awaits in this coastal corner of Northern Ireland.

What Are the Nine Glens of Antrim?

The Glens of Antrim, often simply known as the Antrim Glens, are a group of nine glens or valleys that radiate from the Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland. Each glen is named after a local saint and is unique in its character, history, and natural beauty. They stretch along the coast of County Antrim from the village of Glenarm in the south to the seaside town of Ballycastle in the north. (Map of the nine Glens of Antrim)

9 glens of antrim map

The Antrim Glens, with their lush woodland and coastal landscapes, are an area of outstanding natural beauty and a must-visit attraction for any nature enthusiast or history buff visiting Northern Ireland.

1) Glenarm: The Southernmost glen

Glenarm, located at the southernmost end of the nine glens, is renowned for its rich historical background. Glenarm Castle, a prominent feature in the village, serves as the focal point with its exquisite gardens and frequent events.

The village itself holds a deep-rooted history that traces back to the Norman era, creating a delightful introduction to your exploration of the Antrim Glens.

Glenarm Viaduct and Church, Glens of Antrim
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Typically, your journey through the Glens of Antrim would commence in Glenarm. This charming and picturesque village is brimming with history, offering attractions like Glenarm Castle, the residence of the Earl of Antrim.

In addition to its historical allure, Glenarm is renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes. A leisurely stroll along the coastal pathway rewards visitors with magnificent vistas of the Antrim coast and the surrounding areas.

2) Glencloy, ‘Glen of the Hedges’

Following is Glencloy, also known as the ‘Glen of the Hedges’. Positioned at the base of the glen is the coastal town of Carnlough, where taking a stroll to the Cranny Falls is a delightful outing. Enhancing the beauty of this glen is the charming and picturesque Carnlough Harbour.

Glenariff Forest Park Waterfall, glens of Antrim
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A hike up to Cranny Falls is a must for its breathtaking view. While here, don’t forget to visit the Game of Thrones door located in the local hotel, one of several Game of Thrones-themed attractions scattered across Northern Ireland.

3) Glenariff: Known as the ‘Queen of the Glens’

 Next, you will come across Glencloy, also referred to as the ‘Glen of the Hedges’. At the bottom of the glen lies the coastal village of Carnlough, where a delightful trip up to the Cranny Falls is recommended. The presence of the charming and picturesque Carnlough Harbour enhances the glen.

Glenariff Forest Park Hike, Glens of Antrim
Glenariff Forest Park Hike, Glens of Antrim

Glenariff, the largest and most renowned glen, is nestled within a valley. Glenariff Forest Park, a popular attraction, can be found here. It boasts a distinctive Waterfall Walkway, showcasing numerous stunning waterfalls and stunning panoramic views of the Irish Sea.

Recognized as the “Queen of the Glens,” Glenariff is the largest among the nine glens. It is widely acclaimed for Glenariff Forest Park, which features magnificent woodland, picturesque river scenes, and awe-inspiring waterfalls, such as the breathtaking Ess-na-Larach waterfall. The park boasts numerous hiking trails and provides stunning vistas of the glen, the coastline, and even Scotland across the sea.

Glenariff Forest Trail Maps Glens of Antrim

4) Glenballyeamon: The Eamon’s Glen Journey

Emerging from the slopes of Trostan Mountain, Glenballyeamon carves a scenic pathway between Tievebulliagh and Lurigethan Mountain. The journey culminates at Red Bay with the charming village of Cushendall nestled at the mouth of the glen.

An echo of times past, the derelict railway station of Retreat sits at the apex of the glen. Once the terminus of the Ballymena to Parkmore line, the station was a lifeline for local mines at Altmore, ferrying away lime and ore. There was once a proposal to extend the line to the Glenariffe narrow railway, but it remained a plan, never seeing fruition.

For waterfall enthusiasts, Glenballyeamon has several sites that will catch your eye, significantly when the river swells after rain. The water cascades down, creating an impressive succession of waterfalls, a sight that amplifies the charm of this landscape.

5) Glendun, the ‘Brown Glen’

Revered as the ‘Brown Glen’, Glendun offers an array of captivating vistas and intriguing histories. Embark on a leisurely amble along the banks of the River Dun, where the path is strewn with charming sights of the formidable Antrim Plateau. The perfect blend of tranquillity and might is a sight to behold.

Glendun, Nine Antrim Glens
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Tucked within its embrace, you’ll find the idyllic Cushendun Village, a picture of pastoral perfection with its delightful cottages dotting the landscape. Not just a treat for the eyes, Cushendun Village holds a special allure for fans of the famed Game of Thrones series, with its famed Cushendun Caves marking one of the show’s iconic filming locations.

Custhendun Caves, Game of Thrones setting.
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But there’s more to Glendun than meets the eye. Alongside its natural allure, the glen is a treasure trove of local folklore, its stories as enchanting as the landscape itself. As you venture northward through the ‘Brown Glen’, prepare to be mesmerized by its diverse offerings.

6) Glenaan: The ‘Glen of the Little Fawns’

Tucked away from well-trodden paths, you’ll find Glenaan, also fondly referred to as the ‘Glen of the Little Fawns’. This hidden gem of the Glens of Antrim is every bit as captivating as its more frequented counterparts, boasting an irresistible blend of scenic beauty and fascinating lore.

Glenaan is a tapestry of the past, woven with tales of the mythical warrior Ossian and his father, the legendary Finn. These enchanting narratives infuse the glen with an air of mystique that keeps history buffs and folklore aficionados coming back for more.

As you traverse this relatively untouched landscape, you’ll discover charming traditional Irish cottages dotting the tranquil countryside, further enhancing the glen’s old-world charm. A visit to Glenaan offers a journey into the heart of Antrim’s vibrant history and captivating folklore, making it an undeniably compelling destination on your tour of the Glens.

7) The Peaceful Enchantment of Glencorp

Brimming with serenity and nestled amidst Glenaan and Glendun, Glencorp beckons those who seek tranquillity in the lap of nature. This idyllic glen promises a rejuvenating escape from the bustle of daily life, serving as a silent sanctuary where you can reconnect with the earth.

Glencorp, 9 glens of antrim
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Stroll along Glencorp’s quiet trails, which weave their way through an untouched valley encased by the surrounding woodland’s vibrant green blanket and the rolling hills’ undulating beauty. The sense of peace that pervades Glencorp is tangible, making it a firm favourite amongst those drawn to the calming embrace of the outdoors.

Embarking on a journey through Glencorp is akin to stepping into a painting, where history is immortalised in the landscape, and the natural beauty speaks its own language. Amongst the nine Glens of Antrim, this quiet, unspoiled glen stands as a testament to the serene allure of the great outdoors.

8) The Historic Charm of Glenshesk: The ‘Sedgy Glen’

As you venture closer to the charming town of Ballycastle, you will find yourself drawn into the enchanting realm of Glenshesk, the ‘Sedgy Glen’. Renowned for its unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance, Glenshesk offers a compelling experience that enriches your tour of the Glens of Antrim.

This glen brims with rich tales of yore, whispered by the time-worn ruins of Bonamargy Friary and the majestic allure of Rathlin Island nearby. Its rich tapestry of history beckons the curious traveller, immersing them in a world where the past breathes life into the present.

9) Discovering Glentaisie and the Enchanting Tale of Princess Taisie

As the northernmost glen, Glentaisie offers more than just spectacular vistas; it weaves a captivating tale that adds an enticing layer of intrigue to your journey. Known for its connection to the captivating legend of Princess Taisie, the beautiful progeny of King Dorm from Rathlin Island, Glentaisie invites you to step into a world where beauty and myth intertwine, adding a touch of mystic allure to your exploration.

What are the Top Attractions in the 9 Glens of Antrim?

Last but not least, you’ll get to know about the top attractions to look out for in the Nine Glens. Whether it’s the cascading waterfalls of Glenariff, the Game of Thrones door in Glencloy, or the stunning views from Glenarm, these are just a taste of what awaits in this beautiful corner of Ireland. Finally, we will unveil the most thrilling and awe-inspiring attractions that await you in the enchanting Nine Glens.

Prepare to be mesmerized by the breathtaking waterfalls of Glenariff, captivated by the world-renowned Game of Thrones door in Glencloy, and astounded by the panoramic views that unfold before your eyes in Glenarm. These are just a mere glimpse of the extraordinary wonders that await you in this mesmerizing slice of Ireland.

Embark on an Adventure:
Hiking the Glens of Antrim & Causeway Coast

Prepare to be captivated as you step foot into one of the most awe-inspiring hikes on our portfolio of self-guided hiking tours..

Here, regal waterfalls cascade down the glen’s towering cliffs, creating an ethereal setting that promises an adventure like no other. Every step unveils a new, breathtaking view as you journey along the scenic walking trails that edge the steep glen slopes.

Glenariff Forest Park Waterfall, glens of Antrim
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Your guide through this natural wonderland? None other than the magnificent Moyle Way. This 26-mile (41 km) trek is not merely a trail but a storyteller, narrating the grand tales of the Glens of Antrim.

As you follow its winding path, you’ll discover the glens’ remarkable geology, steeped in millions of years of creation. Delve into the rich history woven into the landscape, uncovering the stories etched into the glens over countless centuries.

Fair Head from Ballycastle, Antrim Coast
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As you journey along the ‘Moyle Way’, you’ll traverse several of the nine Glens of Antrim. The route brims with rivers flowing with crystal clear waters, age-old monuments standing as a testament to the region’s past, and hilltops laid bare, offering panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see.

The array of wildlife that calls this place home adds yet another layer of intrigue to the experience.

The culmination of this extraordinary journey is a final, breathtaking chapter – the Glenariff Forest Park. Standing amidst the splendid forestry, with the sights, sounds, and even the fresh smell of the forest enveloping you, the experience is a fitting finale to the memorable journey that is the Moyle Way.

So, lace up your hiking boots and join us in exploring the majestic Glens of Antrim and the Causeway Coast. Your adventure awaits!

To Summarize:

  • Nine Glens of Antrim are a chain of glens radiating from the Antrim Plateau to the coast of County Antrim. (see; The Glens of Antrim Map)
  • The glens are each named after a local saint and have their unique charm, history, and natural beauty.
  • Top attractions include the historic Glenarm Castle, the Game of Thrones-themed door in Glencloy, and the Glenariff Forest Park with its breathtaking waterfalls.
  • For history buffs, the glens are rich in folklore and legends, with connections to mythical warriors and ancient royals.
  • Each of the nine glens offers something different, from serene woodland walks to coastal hikes, ensuring an unforgettable trip.