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Portrush Nature Reserve

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Contact details


The Coastal Zone 8 Bath Road, Portrush, County Antrim,
T: (028) 7028 3600
F: (028) 7082 3269

The seashore rocks at Portrush National Nature Reserve hide a tale of heated debate.

The Portrush National Nature reserve hides a tale of heated debate around the very origins of rocks. This reserve was the battleground of two schools who had different views and often debated on how basalt was formed when geology was being developed as a science 200 years ago. Visitors can look for fossils in these rocks, as these have helped unlock the secret of how basalt is formed. However, further study of the rock and fossils have revealed it is not basalt, but sedimentary shale which had been baked hard by molten lava. Portrush nature reserve is known internationally all over the world because of its contribution to the evolution of geologic thought.

Moreover, this area definitely has more than geology to offer the curious visitor. The rock pools provide a fun opportunity to look for crabs, anemones, gobys, limpets and starfish up close. Watch for seals hauled out on the Skerries opposite the reserve and harbour porpoise may be glimpsed chasing fish just off shore. The best time to visit would be during spring and summer for rock pooling and all year round for fossil viewing.

In order to safeguard this reserve, visitors are asked not to remove samples of rock or fossils.

Facilities include car parking, toilet facilities and an indoor rock pool in the Portrush Coastal Zone visitor centre as well as interpretation panels.