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Walk of the Week: Heritage Railway Path

This short circular walk near Bushfoot Golf Club in the north coast resort of Portballintrae takes in stunning coastal scenery against the backdrop of the River Bush, Runkerry Strand, the Giants Causeway and Bushmills Heritage Railway.

The walk can easily be extended to provide coastal off-road access to the Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site.


This walk is situated in the coastal village of Portballintrae, approx. 4.5 miles east of Portush and 1.5 miles south west of the Giant’s Causeway. The start/finish point for the walk is Coleraine Borough Council’s small car park adjacent to Bushfoot Golf Club’s car park at the end of Bushfoot Road, accessed from Ballaghmore Road, Portballintrae.

Leave the car park and head south-east along the laneway towards the heritage railway line and adjacent shared use pathway (take note the pathway is also part of National Cycle Network Route 93). On reaching the railway line, cross with care and turn left and proceed along the pathway towards the River Bush with the Giant’s Causeway in the background.

Having crossed the River Bush via the footbridge, continue for a further 100m and then branch off left, leaving the formal pathway and entering the sandy grassland with a backdrop of sand dunes (at this point walkers have the option of continuing along the pathway towards the Giant’s Causeway — a further mile or so — and then a number of options around Runkerry Point and Runkerry Strand for the return journey).

Follow the worn track until reaching fenced boardwalk along the bank of the Bush. Follow the boardwalk and the track until reaching the wooden footbridge, known locally as the Three-quarter Footbridge.

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Cross the bridge and follow the path until reaching a signposted public footpath on the left. Follow this public footpath past the clubhouse and return to the starting point.

The Backdrop

The Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge heritage railway operating between the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills. The line is two miles (3.2 km) long.

It follows the line of the former Giant's Causeway Tramway, which operated as an electric narrow-gauge railway between Portrush and the Giant's Causeway during the years 1883-1949. It was reputedly the first hydro-electric tramway in the world, powered by water from the neighbouring River Bush in Bushmills.

The new railway utilises equipment originally assembled by Lord O’Neill for a tourist line at Shanes Castle, Co Antrim, which closed in 1994.

At the eastern end of the beach, Runkerry House sits majestically on Runkerry Point. This beautiful listed sandstone building, built in the early 1860s and formerly part of the MacNaghtons of Dundarave Estate, has been sympathetically restored to provide a suite of luxurious apartments.

Having its source in the Antrim Hills, and passing through the villages of Armoy and Bushmills, the River Bush enters the Atlantic Ocean at Bushfoot Strand. The Bush has traditionally been a salmon fishing river and its water is used for distilling Bushmills whiskey.

Portballintrae developed from a small fishing village centred on the horseshoe-shaped bay, and today is a popular destination for many tourists and visitors wishing to experience the stunning coastal scenery or engage in a variety of outdoor recreation pursuits ranging from walking or cycling through to surfing.

The town of Bushmills functions as a gateway to the Giant’s Causeway. It developed around a series of mills that harnessed the water power of the River Bush. Today it is best known for its world-renowned Old Bushmills Distillery, one of the leading tourist attractions on the North Coast.

Further information

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

Walk Name: Heritage Railway Path, Portballintrae.

Area: Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Nearest big town to start point: Portballintrae and Bushmills.

Distance: 1.5 miles / 2km.

Time: This walk should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Terrain: Coastal walk on gravel paths and sand.

Access Restrictions: Take note that the Heritage Railway Pathway is shared by cyclists as part of National Cycle Network Route 93.

Refreshments: Available in the neighbouring villages of Portballintrae and Bushmills.

Walk Developed By: Coleraine Borough Council and Moyle District Council.

Map: Sheet 4 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series (1:50,000), available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk).

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