Walk of the Week: Glens of Antrim
Of the famous Nine Glens of Antrim, Croaghan Mountain lies between Glenshesk, which means Glen of the reeds or sedges, and Glendun, or Glen of the brown river.
The Antrim Plateau is an area with a history of long settlement and there are numerous archaeological sites, listed buildings, historic monuments and conservation areas.
This circular walk comprises two routes — including the shorter Milibern Walk which is 3 miles. Both routes ascend to the summit of Croaghan Mountain (417m) in the Glens of Antrim from which there are spectacular views of the North Antrim coastline.
The walk starts and finishes at Altarichard car park and viewing area. Leaving Ballymoney, make a left turn for Armoy at the B16 Kilraughts Road roundabout and continue until you see the brown tourist attraction signs on your right for the Orra Scenic Drive between Magherahoney and Cushendall/Cushendun.
The Altarichard Car Park is located on the right hand side, 2.5 miles along the Altarichard Road, on the scenic route.
From the car park make a left turn along the Altarichard Road. After a short distance you will see the red (Breen Trail) and blue (Milibern trail) waymarks on your right. Follow the waymarks uphill to the summit of Croaghan from where there are significant panoramic views across North Antrim and beyond.
At the summit the shorter Milibern Trail cuts to the right and down a forest riding until it meets a good track where you turn right. Both trails rejoin at this point. At the end of this track turn right into a further forest riding until you emerge from the forest into open hillside.
Take a left here until you reach a small wooden footbridge, cross over the stile and take a left. Turn right at the forest track and follow the waymarks through what is now Altarichard Forest. This will lead you back to Altarichard Road where a right turn results in a short walk back to the starting point.
From the summit of Croaghan, the extended Breen trail continues in a northerly direction across the heather moorland and is fully marked by red waymarks. The route reaches a forest ride. Follow this downhill until it reaches a forest path and continue along until you reach a T-junction. Make a right turn here onto the main forest path and continue until you rejoin the Milibern Trail.
This walk lies within the Antrim Coast & Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), including Rathlin Island, the Glens of Antrim and the coastal area between Larne and Ballycastle. It contains some of the most beautiful and varied scenery in Northern Ireland. Both walks start with an ascent up Croaghan Mountain to enjoy the spectacular views from the summit over the Antrim Coast & Glens. The mosaic of heath and pools provides cover for ground nesting birds such as the red grouse and hen harrier.
As you descend from Croaghan summit you can see the extent of Breen Forest before you. Look out for buzzards soaring overhead. Opposite the National Nature Reserve entrance you may notice a standing stone in the adjacent field. There are two other archaeological sites of note in the forest area — a souterrain, which is located in the fields to the rear of the farm buildings, and McQuillan’s Grave (chambered) which is situated to the eastern boundary of the forest.
For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or 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: Milibern and Breen Forest walk.
Area: Antrim Coast & Glens Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Nearest big town: Ballymoney.
Distance: 5.5 miles circular.
Time: Walkers should leave more than 2 hours to complete this walk.
Terrain: Upland heath, moorland, forest and country roads.
Suitability: This walk is on open hillside through areas of bog and heather. There are a number of steep sections — this route is suitable for walkers with a reasonable base level of fitness.
Access Restrictions: Keep to the waymarked route and do not wander off onto private land. Walkers should also ensure any dogs are kept under control.
Walk developed by: Ballymoney Borough Council in conjunction with Forest Service and Scottish Woodlands Ltd.
Map: Sheet 5 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discovery Series, available from LPSNI Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk).