The Antrim Way Hike explores one of the most beautiful sections of Ireland’s northern coast. Boasting the fabulous Glens of Antrim, the Giant’s Causeway, fantastic castles & beautiful beaches – to say nothing of a wonderful distillery – it is a place that is a pleasure to discover. This way-marked trail passes rugged and windswept cliffs, spectacular scenery, and fabulous unspoiled beaches.
How to get to the start of the Antrim Way
If Antrim is your chosen destination for a hike in Ireland, then flying into Belfast Airport is your best option. With the wonderful seaside village of Cushendall being your starting point.
The best ways to get to Cushendall is by public transportation which would require you taking a bus followed by a train and a 2nd Bus however they are all short journeys with the total journey time taking 2 hour 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can book a private transfer which would cost €80 and take 45 minutes.
After getting settled into your accommodation, explore the town by walking its colorful streets, strolling the beach, and soaking in the incredible view of Tievebulliagh Mountain.
As this will be your home for the next two nights, we recommend one of those nights you Grab a pint at one of the local pubs, McCollam’s, which has been owned by the same family for over five generations. Enjoy traditional music and storytelling while sitting in the cozy downstairs or go upstairs for a proper meal.
Starting the Antrim Way – Orra Beg to Glenarriff Forest
After a hearty breakfast you will be transferred to Orra Beg, an intersection on the Moyle Way to begin your walking tour. Today you are heading south to Glenariff Forest Park passing Slieveanorra Nature Reserve, which has spectacular views over the glens and plays host to a great variety of birds
The variety of the landscape, woodlands and habitats that are to be found within Glenarriff Forest Park provide you with a truly superb walk-through nature.
You will enjoy the tranquillity and admire the spectacular views down the glen, across the sea of Moyle and ‘if you are lucky to have a clear day’ beyond to the Scottish Mountains.
You will be collected at the end of your hike and brought back to Cushendall for one more night.
Heading north to the Causeway Coast
Leaving Cushendall Behind you will be transferred back to Orra Beg and this time you will be heading north to Ballycastle along the Moyle Way.
From Orra Beg the trail takes you along a forest track to reach the open mountainside of Agangarrive Hill. From here you will follow the banks of the Glenshesk River to join the Breen Forest Trail, a Nature Reserve and Woodlands.
The trail then leads you along a quiet country road along the townland of Glenshesk, the most northern of the 9 glens. You will be rewarded with some fantastic views of the Glenshesk River and Coolaveely Forest on your right and Knocklayd Mountain on your left.
The final section of the day takes you through Ballycastle Forest and finally into the town of Ballycastle where you will spend the next Three nights.
The Fair Head Loop Hike
The next part of the Antrim Way hike takes you around the magnificent coastal route of Murlough and Fair Head. You will be transferred here after your breakfast.
The path hugs the coast and offers dramatic cliff drops and views of the sea. If it is a misty day with poor visibility, there are several looped walks from the parking lot at Fair Head Farm that can be enjoyed instead.
You will stay another night in Ballycastle.
Explore Rathlin Island
Today you will board a ferry from Ballycastle for today’s adventure to Rathlin Island. Just 6 miles across the Sea of Moyle you can learn about its exciting history, including the story of Robert the Bruce who took refuge here in 1306.
Rathlin Island is a rare place of wild and natural beauty, with extraordinary environmental values and social interests. Shaped like a boot the island is 10 Km/6 miles long and almost 1.6 Km /1 mile wide. Three lighthouses stand as monuments to its wild coastline while over 40 recorded shipwrecks lie in the depths of its underwater cliffs.
The island is immersed in flora and fauna and in spring and summer Puffins, Guillemots and Kittiwakes, to mention but a few, nest in their thousands along its steep onshore cliffs.
You will return to Ballycastle on the afternoon ferry.
The Giants Causeway
Get ready to experience one of the best coastal walks in Ireland. The 8.5-mile hike from Larrybane to the Giant’s Causeway is a favorite due to its varied geology, views across to Scotland, and the portions of cliffs and beaches.
Beginning at Larrybane Visitor Center, you will start your walk towards the world-famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. The bridge spans an 80-foot ravine that connects to Carrick-a-Rede Island, a must-do for every visitor.
You’ll find it a fitting beginning to an exhilarating day’s walk. From here, it’s only a short distance via the coastal path to the little village of Ballintoy. Be sure to stop in the little harbor at the foot of the cliffs.
You’ll continue through the scenic beach at White Park Bay and towards Portbraddan, stopping at Ireland’s tiniest church. Continue to the ruins of Dunseverick Castle, along the cliff top path around Benbane Head, and on to the UNESCO World Heritage site – the Giant’s Causeway.
After hearing the myth of Finn McCool, the Irish giant taking on his Scottish rival, you’ll be transferred to Bushmills for you overnight stay.
Portstewart and Journeys end
Your final hike is along the coastal road to Portrush, overlooking Binbane Cove, Dunluce Castle, The Burnfoot and The White Rocks, before making the short descent down to Curran Strand.
From here you have some very nice views over a series of small islands that lie a short distance north of the strand. The two biggest being the Big Skerries and Little Skerries. Then it’s into the town of Portrush with a chance to do a little exploring and shopping before starting the final leg of your journey into Portstewart.
This is a beautiful section of the trail and a perfect finish to what hopefully will have been a memorable week of hiking in the Antrim Way
Departing the Antrim Way
All good things must unfortunately come to an end, so after your final hearty breakfast you will depart Portstewart and make your way back to Belfast International Airport. This takes just over two hours with a combination of Train and local buses.
If you have a spare day or two, we recommend spending them in the Northern Ireland Capital of Belfast.
Belfast has something for everyone. Whether you are a history buff or a foodie, a hiker or pub enthusiast, you’ll find something to love here.