Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Walk of the Week: Glenarm Coastal Path

You may think you know the Antrim Coast Road, but this short walk close to the village of Glenarm is a revelation, commanding great views of the coast, sea and grassy cliffs.

The path runs between two small car parks, both on the shore side of the road, and is winding but flat, hidden in most places from the road by a high grassy bank.

There is a gentle foot-worn track leading from the path to the shore which the nimble-footed could use to explore the area. In several places there are benches and tables to sit and admire the view.

This is a lovely restful place suitable for anyone who wants an easy walk, a lot of fresh air and time to reflect. The atmosphere and the sounds are wonderfully therapeutic.

Check out the tides before you go and if you like listening to waves, you are in for a treat. The black and white pebbles have been rounded millions of times and the soft rumbling sound they make as they roll with the waves is exceptionally relaxing.

Directions

The car parks at each end of this walk lie on the sea side of the Antrim Coast Road (A2), one mile south of Glenarm village and 11 miles north of Larne town.

It joins two small car parks, each provided with information points, seats, picnic tables and waste bins. From either car park follow the path along the coast to enjoy the scenery.

The path is designed to be sympathetic to the less able — surfaced with fine white limestone chippings, it is 500m long and is never steep or difficult. It runs parallel to the road and is sometimes hidden from the view of the road by a high grassy bank.

At places there are seats along the way and there is a footworn track that leads down to the shore, where the water is never far away even at low tide.

The Backdrop

The 40km Antrim Coast Road from Larne to Cushendall, was built between 1832 and 1842 by the Scottish engineer William Bald and is one of the most scenic coastlines anywhere in the world.

It cost just over £37,000 to build and thousands of tonnes of rock had to be blasted away to make room for it. In 1967, there was a major rockfall in this area that blocked the road completely for several weeks and a new road had to be built.

Even today, if there has been a long spell of heavy rain, rockfalls and landslides can still occur. One of the most dramatic features of the landscape here is the cliff face of black basalt on top of white limestone. There are several small car parks located along the whole length of this road offering views of the coast and horizon.

Fishing boats are sometimes seen on the horizon, but the main fishing interest here is the award-winning Glenarm Organic Salmon fishery that operates in these waters. The circular salmon pens are visible from the shore. The sea birds that are commonly seen here are cormorant, shag, curlew, oyster catcher, black-headed gull, common gull and gannet. Seals can also be seen popping their heads up inquisitively.

Views to the north include Glenarm Forest, Glenarm Salmon farm, Carnlough Bay, Gortin Quarry, The Trosks and Garron Point. Across the North Channel, the Scottish Island of North Islay, Mull of Kintyre, Rhyns of Galloway, Paps of Jura and Paddy’s Milestone or Ailsa Craig can be seen.

Looking south, you can see the Maidens or Hulin Rocks. Along the path several rough tracks lead down to the stony beaches. Carpets of birdsfoot trefoil decorate the path along the way and above your head are the towering white limestone cliffs of Minnis North, so watch out for buzzards.

The village of Glenarm has a history going back to the 11th century. There is a good car park with adjoining grassy picnic area beside the beach and there is another short, signed walk called The Layde Walk that takes you around the village to a viewpoint that overlooks Glenarm Bay.

Glenarm Castle is the home of Viscount and Viscountess Dunluce and their family. The present castle has been in the McDonnell family since it was first built in 1636. The McDonnells have been in Glenarm for nearly 600 years and the Estate has been in the family for 400 years.

In the house you will see superb examples of Irish furniture as well as portraits of family members from the early 17th century through to the present day. Before taking up full-time residence at Glenarm, the family lived most notably at Dunluce Castle. The estate and gardens have several events throughout the year with the Castle itself occasionally open to the public to enjoy on designated days.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Outdoor Recreation NI at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com.

Outdoor Recreation NI in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. Outdoor Recreation NI 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.

Walk Name: Glenarm Coastal Path.

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

Nearest big town to start point: Larne.

Distance: 1km or less than 20 minutes to walk from one car park to the other and back again.

Terrain: The surface is gravelly, only slightly undulating and there are no gates or fences.

Access Restrictions: There is a height restriction of 2.4m on entrance into the car park.

Refreshments: There are a few small shops and a café in Glenarm where refreshements can be purchased, as well as a hotel and cafes in nearby Carnlough.

Publications: Larne Country Walks is a publication featuring 10 walks in the Larne area. It is free and available to download from the Larne Borough Council website.

Walk Developed By: Larne Borough Council.

Map: Sheet 9 of Ordnance Survey|of Northern Ireland Discovery Series, available from LPSNI Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk).

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