The North East of Ireland opens up to offer the discerning walker a combination of Belfast City, the Mourne Mountains and the breath-taking coastal cliff walks of the Causeway Coast.
A day spent exploring the magical Ratlin Island followed by a cliff top walk along the iconic Fairhead, with views of Scotland to the east.
Cliffs, hills, beach walks! An unforgettable journey through the splendour that is Northern Ireland.
some images copyright Northern Ireland Tourist Board, 2010.
- Belfast City, its people, history, and sights.
- Cliff path walks, long golden beaches, an amazing variety of wildlife and geological features.
- Locally produced and freshly prepared culinary delights, each evening followed by a golden Bushmills single malt whiskey perhaps.
- The Giants Causeway.
- Dunluce Castle.
- Rathlin Island.
- Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.
- Fair Head basalt rock cliffs.
- The wild and beautiful Mountains of Mourne.
Giants Causeway and Mourne Mountains Guided Walk
Day 1 Glenshesk Trail and Ballycastle Forest – 8 Miles Easy to Moderate
Meet your guides in Belfast at 9.00am and transfer 1½ hours by motor coach to the start of our first walk, near the village of Armoy at the top of the cool brae on the Drunavoley road. This walk takes us along quiet and gentle country roads and the Glenshesk trail, which joins with the Glentasie trail going through Ballycastle forest. We descend gently into the village of Ballycastle where we shall have lunch in a local restaurant. Following lunch we transfer by motor coach to the start of our afternoon cliff top walk from Murlough Bay to Fairhead. Fairhead being one of the iconic headlands of Ireland. This afternoon’s walk begins at the car park overlooking Murlough Bay. The trail takes us along the cliff edge and after several undulating trails reaches the top of Greyman’s path, a rocky chasm that climbers use to reach the base of the cliffs. The trail continues along the iconic Fairhead, before dropping down towards a lake called Lough na Cranagh. The island is a good example of what is known as a Crannog, a small Neolithic settlement built in a lake and accessed only by a causeway hidden just beneath the surface of the lake. We continue our descent down to the car park to meet with our driver who will transfer us back to the Bushmills Inn for the evening. Overnight: The Bushmills Inn. (DBB)
Day 2 Rathlin Island and West Light House - 5 miles. Easy to Moderate.
For today’s walk we take the ferry across to Rathlin Island. A local minibus will transfer us to the West Light House, from where we shall walk back across the Island to the ferry pier at Church Bay. We will visit the Westlight seabird viewpoint and possibly spot some puffins along the base of the cliffs. The walk back towards Church Bay passes through areas of rough grazing and moorland and a number of small loughs. The views are spectacular at this point. Shortly we shall choose a suitable spot for a picnic lunch, where we can relax and take in the panorama.Following lunch we continue along the tarred road bordered on each side by fuchsia and hawthorn hedges. Soon we will stop at a memorial to the “Great Hunger”, “An Gorta Mór” 1845 – 1848. During the Great Hunger over 500 inhabitants of Rathlin Island emigrated to England and the United States. Soon we pass St. Mary’s RC Church, turn left and continue along the tarmac road until the East Lighthouse comes into view; unfortunately we have no access to the lighthouse property beyond this point. From here the views of Scotland are spectacular and at times seem tantalisingly close.We now return to Church Bay and make a stop at McCuaigs bar where snacks are available and you may well sample a pint of Guinness. Shortly we make our way to the ferry pier to board the ferry for the short trip back to Ballycastle. Overnight: The Bushmills Inn. (DBB) Dinner will be in a local restaurant this evening in Bushmills village.
Day 3 Beach and Causeway Cliffs Coastal Walk 6 Miles. Easy / Moderate – Ascent: 200m
This morning we travel by motor coach to Carrick-a-Rede, the starting point of our days walking on the Causeway path. We start our walk heading in a westerly direction. Looking to our right we can see Rathlin Island and on a good clear day it is possible to see Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre. Shortly we descend into Ballintoy Harbour. The route takes us along the shore line in a westerly direction where we pass a series of dramatic sea stacks and islands. Shortly we have to cross a number of boulders and continue along the beach of White Park Bay to the little hamlet of Port Bradden at the base of the cliffs this is a really pretty collection of houses and cottages which face on to the small harbour. The trail passes through a natural rock arch and continues on to Gid point and along the rocky path and grassy trails which take us to the ruins of the sixteenth century Dunseverick Castle. At this point our motor coach will collect our group and take us to our lunch in the nearby Smugglers restaurant. Following lunch we again board our motor coach and return to Dunseverick Castle and continue our afternoon cliff walk. The walking trail from here is a gentle grassy path which climbs towards Benbane Head and the highest part of the route. The trail at this point is over 100m above the ocean and affords breathtaking views along the coastline. Shortly we arrive at Plaskin Head and not too far from this point beyond two narrow rock out crops lays the wreck of the Girona, perhaps the most famous of all the ships of the ill-fated Spanish Armada. We continue along the cliff path to the Causeway visitor centre or depending on access, walk down the trail to the Giants Causeway itself. The trail continues through a series of over 40,000 basalt hexagonal structures which were created by cooling lava around 60 million years ago...... A local minibus will transfer us back to the Causeway parking area and to where we meet our motor coach that will return us to the Bushmills Inn. Overnight: The Bushmills Inn. (BB) Dinner on your own tonight.
Day 4. Dundrum Inner Bay and Murlough National Nature Reserve to Newcastle Town. 3 Miles. Easy to Moderate
Following a traditional Antrim breakfast we bid farewell to Bushmills and travel to Co. Down a 3 hour drive on to our next adventure. We will arrive in the little village of Dundrum where we shall have lunch in a local restaurant. Following lunch we now begin our afternoon walk through Dundrum Inner Bay which is sheltered by the extensive dune system of the Murlough dunes. The trail takes us along a disused railway track bed between Clough and Dundrum and along grass and sand paths through Murlough and on to the final stage of the walk along the beach to the town of Newcastle. Looming magnificently in the background is the towering profile of Slieve Donard, where “the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea” dominates the skyline. As we approach Newcastle, our hotel for the next three nights the Slieve Donard Resort and spa Hotel comes into view. Following check-in we may have time to investigate this magnificent Victorian hotel and its many amenities such as its health spa and pool. Dinner is in the hotel tonight. Overnight: Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, Newcastle (DBB)
Day 5 Ballyhornan to Ardglass Coastal Walk – 6 Miles. Easy to Moderate
Following a sumptuous breakfast we board the motor coach and transfer the start of our mornings walk through Killard nature reserve just outside the village of Ballyhornan. We walk directly on to the shoreline and cross on to a path that takes us through beautiful grassy meadows which are home to many bird species and wild meadow flowers during the summer months. The sea in this area can be quite turbulent and rough especially if the tide is on retreat as over 400,000 tons of tidal water empty out of the narrow mouth of the nearby Strangford Loch, the Vikings named the inlet “Strang Fjörthr” or Strong Fjord. Following the beach coastal path, before negotiating some boulders by the shore Gun’s Island lies 500m out to sea and during low tide it is possible to walk out to the Island. As we continue along the beach we again cross on to a grassy path, which leads to higher ground along the cliff top, from this point the Mourne Mountains come into view and it is possible to see the Isle of Man if weather conditions are clear. We pass an abandoned house that was once a cornmill. The trail continues around the coast to a wooden cross and a small enclosure within which St. Patrick’s well is found, a well associated with the saints arrival in Co. Down in 432AD. The final kilometre of the walk takes us along the quiet tarmac road to the pretty little village of Ardglass where we shall have a pub lunch at a local hostelry. Following lunch we transfer to Castle Ward House, a unique 18th century mansion famed for its mixture of architectural styles both gothic and classical. Step into a world of castles and dragons as you explore the Georgian farmyard and the Lough shoreline. Film locations for the television series “Game of Thrones”. Inside the beautiful 820 acre demesne walls you can explore an exotic sunken garden and paths that meander through woodland and unexpectedly open on to the shore of Strangford Lough where we will visit Audley’s Castle a 15th century tower house. The estate trail brings us back again to Castle Ward House where we will board our motor coach and transfer to our hotel for the evening. Overnight: Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, Newcastle (BB) you are on your own for dinner tonight.
Day 6. Tollymore Forest Park and Mountains of Mourne. 6 Miles. Easy to Moderate
Following breakfast we transfer by motor coach to the start of our days walk through the Mourne Mountains. We drive through the pretty village of Bryansford until we reach Fofanny reservoir. The trail begins near here through open mountain landscape all the while dominated by the commanding presence of Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in the province of Ulster. We walk beside the Mourne wall which eventually leads us into a wooded area populated mainly by hazel trees. The trail takes us across mountain streams and past gushing waterfalls. Shortly we enter Tollymore Forest Park, established in 1955 the 630 acre reserve became the first such park in Britain or Ireland. We continue our walk along the banks of the Shimna River on woodland trails filled with a variety of tree species and abundant wildlife such as otters and kingfishers. We continue along the riverbank passing two sets of granite stepping stones which are over 200 years old. We soon arrive at a stone archway which leads us to a formal path known as the Azalea Walk and this leads us to the car park where we will meet our motor coach and transfer to our hotel, The Slieve Donard for the evening. Dinner this evening will be in a local restaurant. Overnight: Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, Newcastle (DBB)
Day 7. Farewell and Transfer to Belfast
This morning after perhaps a early morning stroll on the beach and a last view of the towering Slieve Donard, breakfast shall be taken at the hotel following which we shall board the coach and transfer to Belfast City. Bidding farewell to new found friends you start your journey home or indeed delve deeper into the magic of the island of Ireland.
During our tour of the North East we will be staying in the Bushmills Inn, formerly an old Coaching Inn and Mill House. The Inn is one of Ireland’s most well known luxury 4 star hotels and has recently been awarded the prestigious ‘Best Boutique Hotel in Ireland’ by Golfers Guide to Ireland. Bushmills Village is home to the world’s oldest distillery.
The Slieve Donard Resort & Spa is our second accommodation for the North East tour. Nestling at the foot of the Mountains of Mourne, the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa stands in six acres of immaculate private grounds. A golden strand of beach borders one side while the mighty Royal County Down golf links frames the other. This lovingly maintained Victorian hotel offers sumptuous luxury in exquisite surroundings.
We use luxury coaches for all our transport - they will get us to our various destinations relaxed and ready for the day.
The prices show are all inclusive of Airport transfer, Transportation, Accommodation and All meals.
Individual price = €3480
Single supplement = €400
A 20% deposit is required to secure your place on the tour
100% secure online payment.
Bank transfer - Please make final payment within 60 days of tour commencement date.
Scotia Ireland Guided Walking Tours: Walking Essentials.
What to bring on a Scotia Ireland Guided Walking Tour.
Summer Walking May – Oct.
- Strong waterproof walking boots; leather boots with a Vibram Sole and a Goretex lining are well proven in the field and are excellent for walking throughout Ireland and the British Isles. If you are buying new boots for this trip, make sure you give yourself adequate time to wear them in.
- Comfortable hiking socks - woollen.
- Good quality waterproof rain clothing, e.g. over trousers/jacket, (gaiters are recommended).
- Because of the unpredictability of the Irish climate we would recommend bring sensible clothing and packing a warm hat and gloves.
- Warm Fleece Jacket.
- Shorts (We do get sunshine, believe it or not!)
- Water Bottle.
- Sun-block, factor 30 or higher, Lip salve, midge/insect repellent.
- Walking poles (Optional).
- Good quality sunglasses.
- Rucksack/day pack, waterproof rucksack liner.
- Personal First Aid Kit (Blister Pack) and Whistle.
- Don’t forget your camera!
Relaxed walking on gentle linear terrain- good paths and well marked trails –a few short gentle descents / ascents. A good option for those with little or no previous experience of walking vacations.
Distance per Day: Less 10 km (Less than 6 Miles)
Time: Less than 5 hours per day.
Walking on well established paths- sometimes loose underfoot/open areas-some hills but not too difficult –ascents / descents of up to an hour. Ideally suited to those with a relatively good level of fitness.
Distance per Day: 10 – 18 km. (6 – 11 Miles per day.)
Time: Can be up to 7 hours per day
Scotia Ireland walking itineraries are graded as Easy / Moderate.
These areas will be more challenging-the terrain involved will be varied rugged trails – higher ascent and steeper descent involved (approximately 1- 2 hours depending on route and weather conditions). Ascent can be up to 1000 m. A good level of fitness will be required. Ideal for experienced hill walkers, seeking a little more of a challenge and adventure.
Distance per Day: Up to 25 km (16 Miles)
Scotia Ireland Walking tours are geared toward a variety of fitness levels, but are not suitable for everyone. If it is not possible for you to walk at a relaxed pace on level ground for at least an hour or two at a time, you may not be physically able for a walking tour.
However, on a Scotia Ireland Guided Walking tour the emphasis is on regular stops for sightseeing at interesting archaeological sites or geological features of the Irish landscape. Indeed we often stop maybe just for a chat or an inspiring poem along the way, these tours are definitely not endurance walks, we take our time, this is Ireland after all.
What is a single supplement?
A single supplement is an additional charge for guests booking single accommodation (a room for one person). This supplement covers the extra costs associated with accommodating a single person in their own room.
What is the difference between a twin room and a double room?
A ‘twin’ room is a room for two people with two separate beds. A ‘double’ room has just one large bed (for two people).
Please make contact with us directly with any special requests in regard to specific accommodation requests or requirements.
Do I need to buy Travel Insurance?
Scotia Ireland strongly encourages you to take out adequate insurance cover prior to travel, we recommend consulting the following companies to discuss your options.
Scotia Ireland walking vacations provide land only transport and do not cover flights to or from Ireland.
All transport during the course of the walking tour, baggage transfers to hotels etc is included.
On the return journey on the Sunday after your tour has concluded, you will be returned to Shannon airport or to one of the hotels listed here.
Scotia Ireland will only be too happy to help you plan your vacation and assist with any further arrangements if you decide to tour Ireland independently prior to or following your Scotia Ireland Walking tour, we shall only be too happy to advise you and will prepare a customised itinerary to your requirements.
Dingle Bay and Killarney Guided Walking Tour meets on Monday morning 9.00 am at one of the local hotels listed here.
http://www.oakwoodarms.com/ (5 minutes taxi from Shannon Airport)
http://www.bunrattycastlehotel.com/ (12 minutes taxi from Shannon Airport)
Or indeed a local Limerick City Boutique hotel
http://oneperysquare.com/ (30 minutes taxi from Shannon Airport)
Antrim Coast and the Giants Causeway Guided Walking Tour meets on Monday morning 9.00 am at one of the local hotels listed here.
http://www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com/ (30 minutes taxi from Belfast International Airport)
http://www.tensquare.co.uk/ (30 minutes taxi from Belfast International Airport)