Eimear FlanaganMark RuddsFergal Kilkenny
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Top Coastal Walks in Northern Ireland

Posted on April 24, 2015 @ 4:33 PM in Walking

From dramatic cliff top paths to glorious sandy beaches and rolling waves nothing quite beats the feeling of fresh air and spectacular views on a coastal walk. Whether you’re looking for a quick jaunt along the shores of Strangford Lough, fancy a quiet stroll on a sandy beach or want to take in the iconic views of the Causeway Coast Northern Ireland has plenty to offer when it comes to coastal walking.  With this in mind we have put together a few of our favourite walking routes for you to enjoy – it’s time to get out and smell the seaweed!

Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesne, Castlerock, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Distance: 2 miles circular 
There cannot be a more wild and dramatic headland in Northern Ireland than Downhill Estate. With fabulous views that stretch over the whole of the North Coast of Ireland and open windswept cliff top walks, it is not surprising that the estate is part of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a well-known icon.

Mussenden Temple

(Photos l-r Instagrammers: @naomi_winder, @livcardale, @g_clements)

North Antrim Cliff Path, Bushmills, Co. Antrim
Distance: 4.8 miles (one way) linear 
Featuring one of the best panoramic views of the iconic Giant’s Causeway and ending at the ruins of Dunseverick Castle, spectacular cliff landscape & rich biodiversity of the coast merge effortlessly with the surrounding farmland to provide what is one of the most spectacular cliff top walks in Ireland.  Leave the trail of visitors behind as you pass by attractively named headlands such as Port na Spaniagh, The King & his nobles, Plaiskin Head, Hamiliton’s Seat, Benbane Head, Bengore Head, Portnabrock and Port Moon Bay to experience one of the Causeway Coast’s best kept secrets.

North ANtrim Cliff Path

(Photos l-r Instagrammers: nick_crater98, @mark_mac_)

Dundrum Coastal Path, Dundrum, Co. Down
Distance: 1.6 miles (one way) linear
Running along a stretch of disused railway line on the western shore of Dundrum Inner Bay this path forms part of the Lecale Way and is great for birdwatching.  Beginning in the small National Trust car park just to the north of Dundrum the route can also be easily reached by walking out from the village itself.  At high tide it has the feeling of a riverside walk and can be visually quite stunning, particularly on clear sunny days.  At low tide the bay becomes a very wide mudflat that is home to various groups of birds and offers a completely different perspective.

Dundrum Bay

(Photos l-r Instagrammer: @ clarec26ou)

Castle Ward Shore Trail, Strangford, Co. Down
Distance: 0.7 miles (one way) linear
Starting in the Shore Car Park, this wide and flat trail suitable for all abilities follows the shore of Strangford Lough from the farm yard to Audley's Quay and back hugging the stunning shoreline of Strangford Lough.  At Audley’s Quay you will find Audley’s castle, dating back to the 15th century and used as a filming location in HBO's epic series Game of Thrones.

Castle Ward Shore Trail

Kebble Cliff Walk, Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim
Distance: 1.9 miles circular
When it comes to coastal walking it doesn’t get much better than Northern Ireland’s most northernly inhabited island. One of six waymarked routes on the island this walk takes in the south of the island with stunning views of dramatic sea cliffs, sheltered bays and arches along the way. The route also passes Bull Point, near to where Richard Branson crash landed his hot air balloon in 1987, on his record breaking transatlantic flight.

Rathlin Island

Rathlin walking

(Photos clockwise from top left Instagrammers: @andrea_ricordi, @ottomate, @yawensmall, @kdeckr)

Portballintrae Causeway Loop, Portballintrae, Co. Antrim
Distance: 5.5 miles circular 
This circular route on the stunning Causeway Coast from Portballintrae to the Giant’s Causeway provides the perfect combination of sandy beach and romantic cliff top views.  Crossing the picturesque Three Quarter Mile Foot Bridge the route continues through the sand dunes to emerge onto Runkerry Beach and along cliff path to the Giant’s Causeway before climbing uphill for spectacular views over the world heritage site. 

Giants Causeway

(Photos l-r Instagrammers: @memac13, @yawensmall)

Layd Church, Cushendall, Co. Antrim
Distance: 0.5miles circular
Beginning at the idyllic village of Cushendall this attractive coastal path hugs the cliffs to the south and offers spectacular views of the Scottish coast, Lurigethan, Red Bay Castle and Garron Plateau.  The walk leads to the ruins of Layd Church; a 13th century Franciscan foundation. A church from 1306 to the end of the 18th century the graveyard includes a cross in memory of Doctor James MacDonnell, pioneer in the use of chloroform for surgical operations.

Port Path, Portsetwart, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Distance: 6.5 miles (one way) linear
Another integral section of the Causeway Coast Way this the gently undulating route, which includes several sets of steps, hugs the scenic stretch of coastline between the seaside towns of Portstewart and Portrush. Passing beaches and promenades the panoramic views of the coastline aren’t the only thing to enjoy on this walk, other points of interest include St. Patrick's Well (thought to be the fresh water supply for the Stone Age inhabitants of the sand hills), numerous Ice houses, Portnahapple, a natural sea pool for outdoor bathing and the Dominican Convent, perched on the cliff's edge.


(Photos l-r Instagrammers: @elliejoypenrose, @sixmileimages)

Crawfordsburn Country Park Coastal Path, Crawfordsburn, Co. Down
Distance: 1.9 miles (one way) linear
This walk, beginning at Crawfordsburn Country Park located on the southern shores of Belfast Lough, ambles through a hay meadow, full of wild flowers in the summer months before continuing along sandy beaches, including Crawfordsburn Beach and Helen's Bay, passing the wartime fort at Grey Point (a military fort built in 1904), before finishing at Sea Park.  If you can’t get enough of the beautufl coastline you can extend your route along the North Down Coastal Path.

Helens Bay

(Photos l-r Instagrammers: @michaelog1, @broom94)

Check out WalkNI for even more coastal and beach walks in Northern Ireland!

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

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