Cushendall to Ballycastle: 28 miles (45km) /56 minutes at 30mph
There’s no better way to experience the majesty of the area than with a visit to
Glenariff Forest Park. You can double back through Waterfoot or take the road through Glenballyeamon. Take your pick from the four walking routes, which wind around a fantasy landscape, including the Waterfalls Walks and rivers. The visitor center at the Teashop will help guide you on which trail to choose.
Dropping back to the coast road and fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones will be interested to know that several key locations from the show were shot within a short distance. One such location is the
Cushendun Caves, near the picturesque village of Cushendun with its quiet harbor and quaint cottages. Game of Thrones fans will recall the scene in season two where Lady Melisandre gave birth to the ‘shadow baby’ as Davos looked on in horror. That was filmed right here in the Cushendun Caves.
A detour from the main route will take you to another location in Game of Thrones and introduce you to the natural glories of Murlough Bay and the striking views at Torr Head.
Back to the main route heading towards Ballycastle, and another highlight of the area is the geological mystery of the Vanishing Lake at Loughareema.
Ballypatrick Forest Park, meanwhile, has great walking/biking trails with the reward of stunning views across the Sea of Moyle to Rathin Island.
While you’re in the neighborhood we recommend seeing one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic sites: the
Dark Hedges, the Kingsroad in Game of Thrones. Located just a few miles south west of Ballycastle. Something straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, a long country road is framed by interlocking beech trees, creating a mesmerizing vista.
Dark Hedges explored, return to the seaside resort of Ballycastle for your overnight stay. Traditional Irish music sessions are held Thursday nights in O’Connor’s Bar or take a moonlit stroll along the shore with the Sea of Moyle and Fair Head as a backdrop.
The Rathlin Island detour
A day trip to Rathlin Island is highly recommended for those wanting to enjoy time on Northern Ireland’s only off shore inhabited island. Ferries leave from Ballycastle to cross the Sea of Moyle to the island, please allow 25 minutes for the six-mile crossing to arrive in the harbor at the picturesque Church Bay.
This island is six miles long, one mile wide, "L" shaped and home to a small population of around seventy people. There are many tales of myth and mystery surrounding Rathlin, and across the harbor in the Boathouse Museum is where visitors can discover the stories and history of the island.
Rathlin is a wonderful haven for wildlife, too. A short walk around to Mill Bay, and you will find a colony of seals who regularly sunbathe on the rocks. And the island’s population of famed Irish Hares can be seen racing across the fields. At the west of the island is the renowned Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Seabird Centre, where puffins, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes can be observed during the summer months.
No visit to the island is complete without a tour of Rathlin West Lighthouse, one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland. From its cliffside location you can enjoy magnificent views of Donegal, the North Antrim coastline and the island of Islay. Accommodation is available on Rathlin, with B&Bs, self-catering cottages and hostels for those who wish to get the full experience of island life with an overnight stay.
Rathlin Island legendary tale
Ever wondered where the proverb ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ came from? This little island in County Antrim has a tale that reveals its source.