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It’s no cushy number to climb Glens of Antrim

By Linda Stewart

Get set for some serious muscle action — this route rises from sea-level to 290m and links the beaches at Waterfoot and Cushendun to the hills of the Antrim Plateau, passing through some of the famous Glens of Antrim.

The Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is dominated by the Antrim Plateau, which rises to over 500m and is cut by fast-flowing rivers to form a series of picturesque glens running east and north-east towards the sea.

This spectacular landscape is an area of contrasts, with Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island, gentle bays and valleys, dramatic headlands, farmland and the wild open expanse of moorland on the plateau.

The area has a long settlement history with many important archaeological sites, listed buildings, historic monuments and conservation areas. Rich in folklore, it has a strong cultural heritage and close associations with Scotland. On a clear day there are fine views eastwards to the Scottish islands and the Mull of Kintyre, which is only 20 km away from Torr Head.

Directions

This route begins and ends in Cushendall Village. To get to Cushendall follow the A2 Coast Road from Carnlough — take care as this road can be busy at times. For more information contact Ballycastle Tourist Information Centre on (028) 2076 2024.

Leaving the centre of Cushendall Village, travel north east along Shore Street before taking a left and a steep climb up the Layde Road, which offers stunning views over the Irish Sea. Continue along the Layde Road to the Hamlet of Knocknacarry. At this junction turn right along the B92 to Cushendun.

Leaving Cushendun, travel north along the Bayview Road, swinging west past the caravan park. Travel straight along this road past the chapel on the left and onto the spectacular Glendun Viaduct. After passing under the viaduct, cyclists should continue slowly up Glendun with its wooded slopes giving way to open moorland.

Turning back towards Cushendall at the stone bridge, a further short climb reaches the high point of 290m and gives panoramic views of the surrounding hills and distant Irish Sea. At the top of Glendun cyclists should turn left onto the Glenann Road and continue down Glenann until the junction with the Tromra Road A2. Turning right, follow the road back to Cushendall.

Now back in Cushendall take the Coast Road through the Red Arch to Waterfoot. At the junction to the entrance of Waterfoot Village continue straight on along the A43 Glenariff Road, which will take you on a steep climb to Glenariff Forest Park. Here you can take in the picturesque waterfalls of the park.

After visiting the forest park, return down the Glenariff Road A43 for 2 miles before turning sharply right onto the minor Glen Road and continue down Glenariff Glen to the junction with the Garron Road. Turn left and continue through the village of Waterfoot back to Cushendall.

The Backdrop

The area is characterised by a series of deep glens running eastwards to the North Channel, known as the ‘Nine Glens of Antrim'. These are the product of glaciation and were formed during the last Ice Age.

Known as ‘The Queen of the Glens’, Glenariff Forest Park covers an area of 1,185 hectares of spectacular landscape. Bisecting the Park are two beautiful rivers — the Inver and the Glenariff — containing spectacular waterfalls, tranquil pools and stretches of fast-flowing water tumbling through rocky steep-sided gorges.

Cushendall lies close to where the river Dall flows into Cushendall Bay — the name derives from an Irish word meaning ‘Foot of the Dall'.

Cushendun has close associations with Scotland. Its early development was linked to the growth of tourism in the area and the development of the Antrim Coast Road.

The distinctive architecture of the central part of the village was designed by Clough William Ellis. This unique architectural inheritance, together with its picturesque setting, has long attracted artists and poets.

Further information

For further information on cycling or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), tel: 028 9030 3930 or cycleni.com

CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

Cycle Name: Cushendall.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: North Coast and Glens of Antrim.

Nearest town to start point: Cushendall.

Distance: 25 miles circular.

Terrain: Following mainly minor roads that are sometimes hilly, the route uses 3 miles of coast that can be busy at times.

Refreshments: Cushendall, Cushendun, Glenariff Forest Park and Waterfoot.

Publications: The Causeway Coast & Glens your guide to cycling, Ballycastle TIC Tel: (028) 2076 2024. Email: tourism@moyle-council.org

Developed By: Moyle District Council.

Map: Sheets 5 and 9 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk)

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