Rathlin Island

Kebble and Kinramer Nature Reserves

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Contact details

Address

Rathlin Island, Ballycastle, County Antrim,
Ms Tracy Platt
T: (028) 7035 9963
E: tracy.platt@doeni.gov.uk

Rathlin is Northern Ireland’s only inhabited off-shore island, located north of Ballycastle.

Rathlin is Northern Ireland’s only inhabited off-shore island and is thought to come from the Irish word ‘Reachlan’ meaning ‘rocky reef’. The western end of the island provides a dramatic landscape of sheer cliffs and towering sea stacks rising above the Atlantic Ocean. These beautiful cliffs and sea stacks provide a wonderful opportunity for members of the public to view a raucous breeding seabird colony close up. Those who are interested in bird watching will be able to see thousands of different species of birds such as auks, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars raising their young on bare ledges. They may also spot comical puffins nesting in burrows digging into the grassland and if they are lucky they may catch the rare, red legged chough soaring above them overhead.

The cliff top is covered in areas of wet and dry heath providing swathes of purple and yellow in late summer as the heather and dwarf gorse bloom. The scenic lake and surrounding wetland may also attract nesting waterfowl such as ducks, coots, grebes and snipe nearby. This area may also be full of Irish Hare grazing on the grassland and the lucky observer may be able to catch a glimpse of the legendary ‘golden hare’.

The best time to visit this area would be late spring for orchids and the rare pyramidal bugle, summer for breeding seabirds and waders and autumn for waxcaps.

Toilets are available at the RSPB Seabird Centre (open seasonally) and there are walking trails, picnic tables and interpretative panels available. Please note that livestock are present and that dogs must be kept on leads at all times. Sturdy footwear is recommended.