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Causeway Coast and Antrim Glens

8 Days & 7 Nights 4.2 Read 9 reviews
  • The 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 ‘Game 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 a curious landscape of over 40,000 black basalt columns and is more than 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!
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What To Expect

This tour is rated easy to moderate and has an average walking distance of 17 km per day. The first day is almost flat and gradually the elevation gains and losses build up as you go. A nice tour to get fitter as you walk, although you will need to be fairly fit to fully enjoy this experience right from the start. The geological aspects of this tour are interesting because of this areas unique landscapes, in particular the Giant’s Causeway and the sweeping valleys and plateaus of the Antrim Glens.

Trip Type:

Classic Routes | Classic Routes

Activity:

Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travellers

As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 15 Years

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Coastal Walking

Grade & Terrain

This trip is rated easy to moderate overall, with walks that can be completed at your own pace. The daily distances range from 10 to 21 km (6 to 13 mi). There are two walks that lean more towards the moderate grading; the walk from Bushmills to Ballintoy (21 km/13 mi) and Orra Beg to Ballycastle (20 km/12.5 mi). Please view the itinerary for more details, including the ascents/descents.

It is advisable to build up your fitness before setting off, we recommend taking walks that are similar in duration to what you will be doing on this holiday to make the most of your time and walks in Ireland. If you would like to have some flexibility it is possible to add some additional rest days.

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. Most of the route follows either coastal trails, or countryside tracks, and some of the time you will also be walking on quiet rural roads with little traffic. There are a few short sections on sandy or rocky beaches that may slow down your progress along the route, and where you should always keep an eye on the tide. The information that we provide in our navigation app will advise you where these sections are and what the alternative route is at high tide.

Keep in mind that the trail follows the Causeway Coast and at times this means that the path is close to the cliff edges which can feel exposed in wet and windy conditions. That being said, this is a true highlight of this trip and the views on a clear day are more than worth it. 

If you are thinking of travelling solo, please consider that mobile phone coverage may be patchy in remote areas along the trail (particularly the section from Orra Beg to Ballycastle). We also welcome small groups on the trail, ideally no bigger than 10 travellers due to accommodation limitations. Booking in advance is a must!

Navigation

This is a low-level route that is well-waymarked for the most part and easy to follow, 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 waymarkers. Navigation is straightforward as you can use the Macs Adventure Smartphone App which has maps, GPS tracks, and daily route information. Simply download the GPS tracks for offline use and follow the route on your phone with the assurance that navigation will be simple, and you can’t get lost. You will find more information on downloading the app in your Macs Adventure Account.

Please note that depending on the time of year and recent weather, the trail may be boggy in places which could reduce your average walking speed.

Accommodation Information

Overnights in B&Bs and family-run guest houses are included. The accommodations are comfortable and offer a warm welcome to walkers with traditional Irish hospitality and delicious breakfasts. All accommodation is 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.

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

This trip is available to solo walkers, please note that rooms for single occupancy may be limited. Booking in advance is a must!

Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Usually this is buffet-style with bread, cereals, fruit, and yogurt, combined with a cooked breakfast of your choice, generally this is eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, and mushrooms. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival at a small fee. Alternatively, you can buy lunch at local shops or stop in a café. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or at nearby pubs or restaurants. Please check the app for more information on food and drink that is available locally.

Included
  • 7 Nights in B&B’s and guest houses
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers
  • Private transfer on Day 1 from Coleraine train station to Portstewart
  • Private transfer on Day 6 from Ballycastle to the start of your walk in Orra Beg
  • Private transfer on Day 7 from Ballycastle to the start of your walk in Glenariff Forest
  • Private transfer on Day 8 from Cushendall to Ballymena train station
  • A detailed Trip Information Pack
  • Access to the GPX tracks via the Macs Smartphone App
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our office
Excluded
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Coleraine and from Ballymena
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks, and drinks
  • Ferry to and from Rathlin Island
  • Local buses or public transport
Extras
  • Extra nights before, after or during your walk

When To Go

This walking tour is available between April to October. In our opinion, one of the most beautiful times to visit this region is in spring when colourful wildflowers appear in the landscape, forming a beautiful contrast.

Travel between May and June to be in the best chance of seeing puffins on Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony. Puffin nesting season is from late April to July when they return to shore. July and August are the busiest months and accommodations tend to fill up fast but the days are longer, making them perfect for exploring. For a quieter experience, the ideal months are May/June and September.

Due to the 2023 International North West 200, which is one of the biggest motorcycle race events in the UK, it will be very difficult to book between 7 - 13 May 2023.

Weather and Climate

Irish weather is typically unpredictable year-round so be prepared for any conditions and you will be pleasantly surprised. No matter what month you choose to travel, being close to the Atlantic means it can get wet and windy at any time of year (particularly at the start and towards the end of the season). It is important that you check the local weather forecast before setting off each day. It is safe to walk along the coastal path in most weather, as long as you are well-prepared. If there are gale-force winds or there is low visibility due to fog, the walks near the cliff edges would be too risky.

Getting to the Start

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 the End

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.

Baggage Transfer

Daily door-to-door luggage transfers are included in the price of your trip, allowing you to set off on each walk carrying a light backpack.

At Macs Adventure we work in partnership with many luggage transfer providers who set a limit on how many bags/suitcases they will transfer per person, and also the weight of the bag/suitcase. Ninety-nine percent of the time they will only transfer one bag per person, but the allowed weight ranges from anything between 15 and 20kg per bag, depending on the tour you are taking. We do not have control over the limits that these providers set. Therefore, it is very important that you read the luggage information specific to your tour before departure. If you do not adhere to these limits there is a great possibility that you will be charged locally both for extra bags (including shopping bags or boots) and if they are too heavy. This limitation can be a challenge, especially as airlines generally have limits that are higher. However, our luggage providers have reasons for these limits (usually due to the Health and Safety of their employees) which we must respect.

On this trip, we ask you to keep your luggage to a maximum weight of 15 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.

General Information

Please note that the reviews for this walking holiday up until December 2019 are based on our previous itinerary. As of December 2019, minor changes and improvements have been made to enhance your experience, including reversing the itinerary.

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.

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. 

How fit do I need to be?
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What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Portstewart and overnight Day 2 Walk to Bushmills 12 miles / 19 km Day 3 Walk Ballintoy via the Giant’s Causeway 13 miles / 21 km Day 4 Explore Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge Day 5 Explore Rathin Island 6 miles / 10 km Day 6 Transfer to Orra Beg, walk to Ballycastle 12 miles / 20 km Day 7 Transfer to Glenariff Forest, walk to Cushendall 9 miles / 15 km Day 8 Onward travel

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