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Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route


April 2014


Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route is regarded as one of the world’s great road journeys, a way-marked 120-mile trail of outstanding scenic drives and fascinating attractions. From iconic spots including the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge to hidden gems like Ballintoy Harbour, the Causeway Coastal Route deserves its reputation as an unforgettable road trip. Take your own car and hop easily across to Belfast by ferry, or fly into Belfast or Derry Londonderry and hire a car on the ground – the choice is yours, but either way, the experience promises to astound.

Follow our sample five-day itinerary for a glimpse of what you might experience en route, or visit www.Ireland.com for more information.

 

Sample Itinerary: Belfast to Derry/Londonderry

Spend a day or two exploring the thriving city of Belfast before heading off on your road trip – visit the magnificent Titanic Belfast Visitor Experience, take a stroll through the blooming Botanic Gardens, sample delicious artisan food in bustling St George’s Market and peruse the latest exhibitions at the MAC, Belfast’s creative arts venue.

Day 1: Belfast to Ballymena (55 miles)

Today’s leisurely drive will see you enjoying striking coastal views as you travel through Larne, the gateway to the famous Glens of Antrim. Here loop around to Portmuck Harbour and the Gobbin Cliffs, home to a breathtaking variety of seabirds. Feeling brave? In Ballygally visit the ‘ghost’ room in the Hastings Ballygally Castle Hotel. Take a stroll through the picturesque gardens at Glenarm Castle, one of Ireland’s oldest estates, then venture inland to the charming village of Broughshane. See where St Patrick is said to have tended sheep on Slemish Mountain, before arriving in historic Ballymena.

Day 2: Ballymena to Ballycastle (45 miles)

Today it’s truly time to immerse yourself in the Glens of Antrim. Explore one of the four walking trails in the fairytale landscape of Glenariff Forest Park, before venturing on to the charming Cornish-style village of Cushendun, which was designed as such to please the Cornish-born wife of Lord Cushendun. Visit the eerie Vanishing Lake, or detour to Ballymoney and the nearby village of Armoy to see the haunting avenue of trees known as the Dark Hedges, made famous by featuring in the hugely popular HBO series Game of Thrones.

Day 3: Ballycastle to Portrush (19 miles)

Start your morning with an invigorating and breathtaking walk across the Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge – suspended across a 20-metre chasm, this precarious bridge was initially erected by salmon fishermen, but is now one of the highlights of the Causeway Coastal Route. You could also opt to take a full day visit to Rathlin Island, a short ferry crossing from Ballycastle and home to thousands of seabirds.

En route to the World Heritage-listed Giant’s Causeway, be sure not to miss two of the region’s most picturesque harbours – Ballintoy and Portbradden, nestled in the shadow of the beautiful Whitepark Bay. Then take time to appreciate the magnificent natural wonder of the causeway, formed by volcanic activity according to science, but legend tells another story of the mythical giant Finn McCool. Decide for yourself on a visit to this magical area.

Perhaps plan to stop for lunch in the village of Bushmills, home to Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery. Suitably refreshed, continue on towards Portrush, stopping to take in the haunting sight of Dunluce Castle, whose ruins perch precariously on the cliff edge.

The seaside town of Portrush is popular with water sports enthusiasts, as well as being home to the prestigious Royal Portrush Golf Club – which hosted the Irish Open in 2012.

Day 4: Portrush to Limavady (20 miles)

Take a short drive from Portrush to its nearest neighbour Portstewart, and perhaps visit one of the oldest known human settlements in Ireland at Mountsandel, on the banks of the River Bann. Returning to the Causeway Coastal Route, pass through the scenic seaside village of Castlerock, and look out for Hezlett House and the glorious Mussenden Temple, said to have been inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Rome. Take the opportunity for a stroll along Benone Strand, offering miles of sand, surf and solitude.

Day 5: Limavady to Derry/Londonderry (17 miles)

Start your last day with a bracing walk on Binevanagh Mountain, where panoramic summit views offer ample reward for your efforts. Next explore the vibrant market town of Limavady, or detour to the magnificent Roe Valley Country Park. Your journey ends in the beautiful walled city of Derry/Londonderry, which was the UK City of Culture 2013 and boasts a rich cultural legacy, fascinating heritage and attractions galore, plenty to keep you busy for an extra few days.

The above offers just a taste of what’s on offer along the Causeway Coastal Route – but for more information and alternative itineraries visit www.causewaycoastandglens.com.



For more articles on Ireland click here


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