Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Reaching new heights on the Antrim Plateau

By Linda Stewart

Explore the wide-open spaces of the spectacular Antrim Plateau with a bike ride along quiet country roads.

The route kicks off on traffic-free paths in the ecos Millennium Environmental Centre, before passing onto a marked on-road cycle path on the way to Broughshane.

After Broughshane, it follows quiet minor roads to Buckna before descending towards the coast at Glenarm.

Directions

Ballymena is serviced by a rail link between Belfast and Londonderry which has facilities for carrying four bicycles except before 9.30am Monday to Friday. For timetables, visit www.translink.co.uk or phone 028 9066 6630.

The Ecos Centre is clearly signposted from the railway station and from the M2 motorway for those travelling by car.

From the Ecos Centre building, cross over the footbridge, turn right and follow the traffic-free path to the roundabout on the Broughshane Road. At the roundabout, turn right and follow the designated cycle lane on the A42 into Broughshane.

At Rathkeel Road (Slemish Tavern) in the village, turn right and then 100m later take a left onto the Carnalbanagh Road, passing by Houston’s Mill. Continue for 1.5 miles (2km) and then take the first left onto the Buckna Road.

About 2 miles later (3km) and just opposite Buckna Presbyterian Church in the village is a signpost for Slemish Mountain. It will be an uphill climb of about one and a half miles (2.4km) to get to the car park at the foot of Slemish but is worth the effort.

You can walk to the top of this landmark volcanic plug which is 437m above sea level.

This section is not NCN signed, but it is signed for Slemish along The Cuttings, Carnalbanagh Road, Carnstroan Road and Carnstroan Lane, so you can’t go wrong.

Follow the same roads back down again to rejoin the Ecos Cycle Trail in Buckna and turn right. After about 400m, take the Kilnacolpagh Road on the right.

Three miles (5km) later you meet a crossroads — go straight ahead and 4 miles (7km) later turn left at the T-junction. Notice the beautiful patchwork of traditional stone walls that mark out fields in this area.

About 2 miles (3km) later at the next T-junction, turn right onto the B97. From here it is a 3 mile (5km) downhill ride into Glenarm village with fantastic views overlooking the softly wooded Glenarm Glen.

At the next T-junction turn right onto the Straidkilly Road and less than half a mile (1 km) later you meet Route 93 on the Antrim Coast Road and the village of Glenarm, passing the entrance into Glenarm Castle Walled Garden.

The Backdrop

Ecos Millennium Environmental Centre is set in a developing 150 acre country park and nature reserve, where you can have fun exploring the natural world and discovering how we use it.

The riverside paths provide an ideal opportunity for family groups to enjoy some traffic-free cycling in pleasant surroundings. For more information visit www.ballymena.gov.uk/ecos.

Further information

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

Countryside Access and Activities Network (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: Ecos Cycle Trail.

Area: The trail sits mainly within the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) between the inland town of Ballymena and the coastal village of Glenarm.

Nearest big town to start point: Ballymena, County Antrim.

Distance: 17 miles (27km) and is a linear route

Terrain: Starting from the ecos centre in Ballymena, the route gradually ascends some 240 metres for the first 12 miles (19km) before dropping to sea level for the final 5 miles (8km) to arrive in Glenarm.

Refreshments/facilities: There are a large variety of facilities available in Broughshane including the Thatch Inn - a two-storey six-bay 18th century building with thatch roof. Glenarm has a café at the walled garden and in Sally’s Café on Toberwine Street in the village. Public toilets available at Broughshane, Slemish mountain and Glenarm village.

Publications: Ecos Cycle Trail brochure is available from Ballymena Tourist Information Centre (028 2563 5900) and Larne Tourist Information Centre (028 2826 0088). For further information about the Larne area, ask for the Larne Visitor Guide or see larne.gov.uk.

Cycle route developed by: Ballymena Borough Council, Larne Borough Council and Sustrans (nationalcyclenetwork.org.uk)

Map: Sheet 9 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk) and most well-stocked bookshops.

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