Walk of the week: Now, this really is a shore thing
The Port Path gently undulates along a stretch of scenic coastline between the resorts of Portstewart and Portrush on the north coast.
Part of the Causeway Coast Way and the Ulster Way, it hugs the coastline, exploring a variety of underfoot conditions including dust paths, grass tracks, beach and surfaced promenades, with several flights of steps. Magnificent offshore views and various features of interest are illustrated on interpretation panels along the route.
The walk is mainly along flat tarmac paths with some grassy sections. Please note that some sections of paths can be sandy alongside the shoreline. This walk should be completed by walkers with a reasonable level of fitness.
Within Portstewart, follow signs for Portstewart Strand. The walk start point is along Strand Road, on the right hand side, approximately 500 metres before the beach on an area of open rough grassland. Walk onto the surfaced cliff path and follow this coastal path into the centre of Portstewart.
There are several points of interest along this section. St Patrick’s Well was thought to be the freshwater supply for the Stone Age inhabitants of the sand hills.
There is an ice house, a stone-built, turf-roofed house where ice was stored in the winter in order to preserve salmon in the summer.
The route also passes Portnahapple, a natural sea pool for outdoor bathing, and the Dominican Convent, perched on the cliff’s edge.
Having passed the convent, proceed along the promenade towards the harbour. Look out for the sculpture towards the northern end of the promenade commemorating the songwriter, Jimmy Kennedy. Although born in Omagh, he grew up in Portstewart.
Having passed the harbour, ascend the steps on the left to Harbour Hill viewpoint.
From this vantage point, follow the waymarked route towards Portrush, hugging the coastline. On reaching Portrush, follow the route along the promenade, past the harbour, around Ramore Head, past the Countryside Centre and the Arcadia to finish at East Strand, Portrush.
Highlights of the route include the beautiful Portstewart Strand, at the end of which is the Barmouth, where the Lower Bann River enters the Atlantic Ocean. The Barmouth is a sanctuary for waders, wildfowl and nesting birds. You can view this spectacle from a purpose-built hide on the west side of the River Bann.
Portstewart Strand is one of Northern Ireland’s Blue Flag beaches and is a great area to visit, with a long sandy beach and a large dune system.
Portrush is a good location for a family break on the north coast, featuring two award-winning beaches and indoor family entertainment venues such as Waterworld and the Dunluce Centre and numerous high-quality restaurants, walking and cycling routes and high quality golf courses.
For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network, tel: 028 9030 3930 or www.walkni.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.
Walk name: The Port Path.
Area: Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Nearest big town to start point: Portstewart.
Distance: 6.5 miles.
Time: This linear walk should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
Access Restrictions: There are several flights of steps along this route and extra care should be taken while walking past the Portstewart and Ballyreagh golf courses.
Refreshments: A wide variety of refreshments available in the coastal towns of Portstewart and Portrush.
Publications: Your Guide to Walking in the Causeway Coast & Glens — Tour No.13; Walk the Bann & Roe Valleys, Landscapes from Stone — Route 7. Both are available from Coleraine Tourist Information Centre, Railway Road, Coleraine, tel: 028 7034 4723.
Walk Developed By: Coleraine Borough Council.
Map: Sheet 4 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discovery Series, available from LPSNI Map Shop, Colby House, Stranmillis, Belfast BT9 SBJ www.lpsni.gov.uk