Places To Visit
Glenariff Forest Park is situated amid the world famous Glens of Antrim, an area to which tourists have been coming for over a century. Glenariff, the Queen of the Glens, is considered by many people to be the most beautiful of the nine Antrim Glens.
The Park, now including the former Parkmore Forest, covers an area of 1185 ha of which 900 ha have been planted with trees. The remainder consists of several small lakes, recreation areas and open space left for landscape and conservation reasons.
Bisecting the Park are two small but beautiful rivers; the Inver and the Glenariff, containing spectacular waterfalls, tranquil pools and stretches of fast flowing water tumbling through rocky steep-sided gorges. The soil over most of the forest is of low fertility being mainly peat over basalt. Along the river glens the relatively more fertile clays support a greater variety of plants and better tree growth.
The main tree species is Sitka spruce, a North American conifer, but Douglas fir, Japanese larch, Lodgepole pine and Norway spruce are also grown. Along the Inver and Glenariff rivers there are some beautiful areas of broad-leaved woodland mostly Oak and Beech.
The diversity of topography, woodland and habitats found within Glenariff Forest Park provide, for the visitor, an area of superb natural beauty in which to walk, enjoy the tranquillity and admire the spectacular views.
Amidst the rugged landscape of this isolated island, you can let your mind wander and discover a tranquillity and beauty that is so unexpected.
The ferry to Rathlin Island travels just six miles across the "Sea of Moyle". This island is six miles long, one mile wide, "L" shaped and home to a small population of around seventy people.
In the harbour is the Boathouse, where visitors can discover some of the exciting history, learn about present day island life and see some artefacts from shipwrecks around the island.
A short walk around to Mill Bay there is a colony of seals, who are fun to just sit and watch! At the other side of the harbour are two churches where visitors can sit quietly or just admire the architecture. At the west of the island is the renowned RSPB Seabird Centre, where puffins, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes can be viewed during the summer months. It is also home to some magnificent views, on clear days Donegal, the North Antrim coastline, the island of Islay and the Mull of Kintyre can be seen.
Throughout the year special occasions are celebrated with ceilidhs. Music, song and dance remain at the heart of the community life. There are many tales of myth and mystery surrounding Rathlin, the most famous tells of Robert the Bruce. In 1306, the Scottish King was driven from Scotland by Edward I of England and took refuge on Rathlin.
Cushendun means 'Foot of the Dun', this sheltered and safe anchorage at the mouth of the River Dun has been a landing place and ferry point between Scotland and Ireland since man first settled on the north coast.
The village we see today owes much of its character and unique architectural heritage to Ronald John McNeill who became the 1st Baron of Cushendun in 1927, he had plans to develop the village and in 1912 commissioned the architect Clough Williams-Ellis to design a village square with seven house, the remit also included a public hall which was never completed, later in 1923 the architect was again commissioned to design Maud Cottages and Glenmona House.
Later cottages built in 1925 were designed by Frederick MacManus.
The picturesque village is situated on a raised beach at the outflow of the glacial valleys of Glendun and Glencorp.
Cushendun has a long sweeping beach from the harbour to where the clans would have landed their boats near Carra Castle - the exact date of construction of the castle is unclear but it is known that Shane O'Neill at one time owned Carra Castle and in 1565 imprisoned Sorley Boy MacDonnell there. The road from here is known as the Torr Scenic Road and winds steeply up past the cairn and over Tornamoney Bridge where you will find Altagore Cashel. The landscape and layout of the walls and fields in the area are intriguing and of particular archaeological interest.
The Giants Causeway
The formation of the Giant's Causeway was due to intense volcanic activity. Lava welling up through fissures in the chalk bed formed a "lava plateau". Three periods of volcanic activity gave rise to the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts, and it's the Middle Basalt rock which forms the famous amphitheatres of hexagonal columns in the Causeway.
Weathered formations have created circular structures round a core of basalt which are known locally as "giant's eyes". Some other formations with popular names are the Chimney Stacks, The Harp, The Organ and the Camel's Hump.
Sea birds can be seen off the coast around the Causeway, with species such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank guillemot and razorbill being frequently observed. Rare and unusual plant species including sea spleenwort, hare's foot trefoil, vernal squill, sea fescue and frog orchid can be found on the cliffs and nearby rock formations.
At Bushmills, the visitor can observe the craft and skills of making Irish whiskey. The guided tour includes the ingredients and processes, spring water from St. Columb’s Rill and the finest malted barley, to the art of triple distillation in copper stills and ageing in oak casks. Of course, no visit would be complete without enjoying a complimentary glass of Bushmills whiskey.
Today, Bushmills is a well known name for smooth, distinctive Irish whiskey. The whiskey maturing process takes time, between 5 and 30 years depending on the blend. Often there are around 171,000 barrels on site maturing. Recent accolades include a review by the New York Times in 2006 describing Bushmills 10 year Malt as "the best Irish whiskey".
Fair Head is one of the great headlands of Ireland, its sheer face rising some 600 feet above sea level, making it Northern Ireland’s tallest cliff face. Its impressive profile can be seen from Ballycastle and many other points along the North Coast.
The gentler slopes and wooded areas of Murlough Bay to the east provide a contrast to the starkness of Fair Head.
Both sites are accessible by car and offer excellent walking opportunities, more challenging at Fair Head than at Murlough. The easiest point from which to explore Fair Head is from the Trust’s car park at Coolanlough (at the end of the Fair Head road), with a walk of about a mile north to the cliff-top. Murlough Bay is best explored from the main car park at the top of a steep narrow lane down to the shore. There is another small car park at the foot of the steep road. Cars should be not be taken beyond this point, as the road is liable to subsidence.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope suspension bridge near, Ballintoy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny Carrick Island. The site is owned and maintained by the National Trust, spans twenty metres and is thirty metres above the rocks below. Today the bridge is mainly a tourist attraction, with 227,000 visitors in 2007. The bridge is now taken down every year in late October or early November, depending on weather conditions, having been put up in March.
Although no one has fallen off the bridge, there have been many instances where visitors, unable to face the walk back across the bridge, have had to be taken off the island by boat.
It is no longer used by fishermen during the salmon season, which used to last from June until September, as there are now very few salmon left.
The area is exceptional in natural beauty with stunning views of Rathlin Island and Scotland. The site and surrounding area is an Area of Special Scientific Interest, with unique geology, flora and fauna. Underneath large caves are visible, which once served as home for boat builders and as shelter during stormy weather.