Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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The Giant's Causeway and a rainbow!
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Highlights

  • Causeway Coast and Antrim Glens, an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”
  • View film locations for the Game of Thrones; Ballintoy Harbour and Portstewart Strand
  • Cross the Moyle Sea to the ruggedly picturesque Rathlin Island with its multitude of birdlife
  • Pass the geological splendour of the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO Heritage Site
  • Sample a dram of Bushmills Whiskey in the world’s oldest distillery

Discover Northern Ireland’s most magical landscapes, the Causeway Coast and the tranquil highlands of the Antrim Glens.

It is easy to appreciate, with its diversity of unusual landscapes, why this region was chosen as a filming location for the ‘plateaux of Thrones’ series; Ballintoy Harbour unchanged for 100’s of years, the Antrim Glens with its stunning waterfalls and forest, plus Portstewart Strand, a 2-mile stretch of stunning golden beach.

The Giant’s Causeway is an curious landscape of over 40,000 black basalt columns and is over 60 million years old. Its scenic beauty, along with an outing by ferry to Rathin Island to visit its Puffin population, is sure to create many lasting memories.

The warmth and friendliness of the Northern Irish people is a genuine highlight and you will stay in family-owned B&B’s en route. Enjoy the atmosphere of a local pub in Ballycastle, as you listen to local music and eat a traditional plate of fish and chips!

Day 1: Arrive in Portstewart and overnight

The seaside town of Portstewart is easily accessible from Belfast (2H), especially as we provide an included transfer from Coleraine Train Station and there is a direct train here from Belfast.


Portstewart has a relaxed atmosphere, a promenade, St Hara’s Castle which provides a delightful back drop and The Strand, a 2-mile stretch of golden beach a short walk away from the centre. Sample some delicious award-winning ice cream from “Morelli’s”. A Knickerbocker Glory is recommended!


Overnight: Portstewart


Day 2: Walk to Bushmills

Your first portion of today’s lovely coastal walk takes you past the Portstewart Golf Course (this area is famous for golf-courses). Then follow the coastal path to Portrush, another seaside town. Pause here for a coffee break before walking on past the iconic ruins of the medieval Dunluce Castle, which bears a tumultuous history. Built in approximately 1500 it was the scene of many a battle.


On arrival in Portballintrae make your way slightly inland to Bushmills, a town famous for its whisky distillery and the oldest in Ireland. If you wish you can take a tour and sample some of this exquisite golden Irish whisky. They produce triple distilled, singles malts and Black Bush which has  rich, fruity notes and a deep intense character.


Walk: 19km


Overnight:  Bushmills


Day 3: Walk Ballintoy via the Giant’s Causeway

First stop today is the magnificent Giant’s Causeway. Make sure to check it out as the route goes right past. An area of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, this UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the volcanic age almost 60 million years ago. Also ensure that you drop into the Visitor’s Centre where you can learn about the legend of Irish giant, Finn McCool.


Further along this coastal trail come across the ruins of Dunseverick Castle, where Saint Patrick is recorded as having visited in the 5th century AD. Walk along the stunning beach of White Park Bay, and pass through Ballintoy Harbour, which has barely changed in hundred's of years and where scenes from the series “Game of Thrones” series were filmed.


The delightful village of Ballintoy then comes into view with its little white cottages.  Home to just 200 people, it still has a lively pub that serves great local food, perfect for tonight’s dinner spot.


Walk: 21km


Elevation gain/loss: +317m/-265m


Overnight: Ballintoy


Day 4: Explore Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge. Bus to Ballycastle. Optional Fair Head Loop Walk

If you wish you may walk to the  famous Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge before heading to Ballycastle. Carrick-a-Rede Island is connected to the mainland by a rope bridge which spans the 80ft chasm. First erected by salmon fishermen 350 years ago, it is suspended almost 100 ft above sea level. If you choose to cross it the experience will be invigorating. You can take a regular bus service from here or from Ballintoy centre to Ballycastle, just a 20 minute journey. Upon arrival you may choose to take a loop walk to Fair head.


This ruggedly beautiful loop walk takes you along cliffs to stunning Fair Head, from where you can expect amazing views towards Ballycastle and Rathlin Island and the picturesque Murlough Bay. These unusual landscapes of gigantic columns, some  separated from the rest of the cliff were born out of volcanic activity millions of years ago.


Alternately spend the day in Ballycastle, a peaceful harbour town, which denotes the eastern end of the Causeway Coast.


Walk: 18km


Elevation Gain/Loss: +340m/-340m


Overnight: Ballycastle


Day 5: Explore Rathin Island. Church Bay Loop Walk

Board a ferry from Ballycastle for today’s adventure to Rathlin Island (takes about 50 minutes and it’s best to book in advance). 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. It’s also famous for its population of puffins (the season occurs from April to July every year). Why not board a puffin bus to check them and all the other species of birds on the west side of the island?


You can also take a loop walk from Church Bay (where the ferry lands) down the peninsula to Rue Point and the South Lighthouse. Walk along a quiet country road and a dirt trail passing loughs and rugged landscapes as you walk and with fabulous views back to the mainland and Ballycastle.


Afternoon tea at the local hotel is a great way to finish your day here before heading back on the ferry.


Walk: 19km


Overnight: Ballycastle


Day 6: Transfer to Orra Beg, walk to Ballycastle

Leave the Causeway Coast behind for the day as an included transfer brings you to Orra Beg, in the heart of the Antrim Glens. Massive deciduous forests once covered most of Ireland, but true native woodland is now confined to rare zones. Breen Wood Nature Reserve harbours one such enclave of ancient oak wood. Walk through this native woodland and also on quiet country roads and open moorland. You will be rewarded with some fantastic views of the Glenshesk River, Coolaveely Forest and Knocklayd Mountain and the final section of the day takes you through Ballycastle Forest and finally into the town itself.


Walk: 21km


Elevation gain/loss: +303/-632m


Overnight: Ballycastle


Day 7: Transfer to Glenariff Forest, Queen of the Glens, walk to Cushendall

A short transfer (40 mins) brings you to the beginning of today’s inspiring walk in the Forest of Glenariff. As you walk in and then out of the tree cover, there are terrific views over the sea and of this majestic, green countryside of glacier-gouged valleys. It is not surprising that the Glens of Antrim were chosen as a filming location for the Game of Thrones series. As you walk out of the forest and along the valley towards Cushendall, you can see the green-sided cliffs in all their glory.


Arrive in the village of Cushendall and explore it’s little high street and beach. There are a couple of local pubs and restaurants to choose from in which to celebrate your final night in this exquisite area of Northern Ireland.


Walk: 15 km


Elevation Gain/Loss: +130m/ -350m


Overnight: Cushendall


Day 8: Onward journey

From Cushendall you have an included transfer to Ballymena and from here there is a direct train service to Belfast.


If you have more time to explore, why not consider one of our other walking adventures in Ireland?


Accommodation

7 Nights in B&B’s and guesthouses. All accommodation is very comfortable and mostly in convenient locations in the town centres, although there could be exceptions to this if availability is a challenge when you want to book.


We regularly use the properties below but may accommodate you elsewhere if these are not available. However, they will be of a similar standard.


You can add on extra nights in any of the overnight locations on this tour.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This trip is available to solo walkers, although there is a supplement due to the fact that some of the costs (such as transfers) are not shared. Single rooms are available on request and a supplement is payable.


Meals

A breakfast will be provided by your accommodation every morning. Usually they are buffet-style with cereals, fruit and yoghurt, combined with the cooked breakfast of your choice, which generaly consists of eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, mushrooms, etc. You will certainly be ready to embark on your days walking after these offerings! Dinners are not included, however there are options to dine out in any of the towns and villages  Pub food is very good option and fish and chips being a traditional dish, is also a tasty choice.


Lunch is  not included, but you can find small stores in which to purchase items for a picnic lunch, or your accommodation can possibly make a picnic lunch if you ask in advance.  In your route notes we give advice on where you can eat/pick up lunch.



 

 

 




Cul Erg House - Portstewart

Unassumingly tucked away, Cul-Erg House is a two minute stroll to the clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and to the promenade. All the rooms offer comfy beds, tasteful décor and Wifi.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Porthcaman B&B - Bushmills

This B&B has recently been completely renovated and consists of 8 rooms, all with modern decor. Its just a short walk away from the centre of Bushmills and the whisky distillery!


 

 

 


 

 

 



Fullerton Arms - Ballintoy



Fullerton Arms - Ballintoy

This old black and white building on the high street of Ballintoy houses a public house, restaurant and a guesthouse with lovely rooms, recently refurbished to a very high standard.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Old Manse B&B - Ballycastle

The Old Manse was built in 1899 and has maintained its unique character. It is a centrally located family–run B&B within 3 minutes walk from the sea front, beach and town centre.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Glendale B&B - Cushendall

Situated in its own private and peaceful grounds, this B&B offers a warm, welcoming and relaxing home away from home. It also has pleasant views of the sea and of the nearby Lurig Mountain.


 

 

 

Availability

You can start this walking tour anytime between April and October. July and August are particularly busy so we recommend booking early if you want to go during these months.


Please note: Due to the 2020 International North West 200, which is one of the biggest motorcycle race events in the UK, it will be very difficult to book between 10 - 16 May 2020.


Baggage Transfer

Daily door-to-door baggage transfers are included in the price of your trip. We ask you to keep your baggage to a maximum weight of 20 kilograms per item.


Although most airlines have a standard baggage allowance of 23kg, we kindly ask you to distribute any excess weight over a separate bag. Please note that 2 bags per person are allowed, meaning 4 bags per couple.


Equipment

Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take with you to Northern Ireland. This includes warm and cold weather gear, hiking boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.


Grade & Terrain

This trip is rated ‘moderate’ overall. The first day of walking is relatively flat and after that there are some elevation gains and losses on the coast and when you reach the Antrim Glens area. You should be in good physical fitness to fully enjoy the walking on this tour. Most of the route follows either coastal or countryside tracks and trails, and some of the time you will also be walking on quiet rural roads. The walks are an average of about 19km per day, with the exception of the walk on Rathlin Island which is only 9km, giving you time to explore the rest of the island as well.


Navigation

The route is waymarked most of the time, with signs for the Causeway Coast Way or the Moyle Way. However, this is not always the case (especially on the Orra Beg to Ballycastle route) so you will have to remain vigilant when there are no way markers. We provide you with detailed turn-by-turn route notes and maps. You will also have access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone App enabling you to follow the route using your phone's GPS so you will have no problems finding the way. You can simply download the GPX tracks to your phone for offline use and off you go!


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care. 


General Information

The distances and descents / ascents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking/ cycling gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Getting to Portstewart

You can fly into Belfast International Airport. This airport serves many airlines such as Easyjet, Ryanair, and Jet2. From here the quickest way to get to Coleraine is to take a short taxi ride to Antrim Train Station (8km away and costs around €15 to €20). Then in Antrim you can take a direct train to Coleraine. (Leaves hourly and takes approximately 1H).


It’s also possible to fly into Belfast City Airport. From here take a train into Belfast Centre, and then another direct train to Coleraine. However only Flybe serves this airport so your choices will be limited.


If you are choosing to arrive by some other means take a direct train from Belfast Centre to Coleraine.


From Coleraine a transfer to your accommodation in Portstewart is included. Please give us your arrival time as soon as possible so that we may set up this transfer for you.


For more public transport information please check the Translink website.


Getting from Cushendall

From Cushendall an included transfer to Ballymena Train Station is included. From Ballymena you can take a train to Antrim, then a short taxi ride to Belfast International Airport from here. Or take a train into Belfast Centre if you are not taking your onward journey from the international airport.


Included

  • 7 Nights in B&B’s and guest houses
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Baggage transfers
  • Transfers as outlined in the itinerary
  • Information Pack
  • Maps, route notes, GPX tracks, access to our smartphone app
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Coleraine and from Ballymena
  • Lunches & Dinners
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Ferry to and from Rathlin Island
  • Local bus
  • Entrances
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Single room supplement
  • Solo Walker Supplement
  • Extra nights before, after or during your walk

Planning a long distance walking trip can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries.

How fit do I need to be?

You should be in good physical fitness to fully enjoy the walking on this tour. The walks are an average of about 19km per day, with the exception of the walk on Rathlin Island which is only 9km, giving you time to explore the rest of the island as well.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Your baggage will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Causeway Coast is extremely popular especially over July/August. We will always try and accommodate your plans.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although any time between early April and October offers a wonderful experience. Please bear in mind that weather at the very start/end of the season is more likely to be changeable, so pack accordingly and ensure you check the weather forecasts daily.

Am I able to take my dog?

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop. Information about buses between places are in your information pack.

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Macs Adventure - Head Office: Skypark 5, 45 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, G3 8JU, UK

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