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Walk of the week: Why history runs deep underneath the Crooked Glen

By Linda Stewart

Rising to the east on the slopes of Divis Mountain, the Crumlin River has carved a short but deep glen as it approaches the waters of Lough Neagh.

The town of Crumlin takes its name from this small, winding valley and is derived from the Irish ‘Cromghlinn’, meaning ‘Crooked Glen’.

The origins of Crumlin can be traced back to 1765, when landlord Rowley Heyland built some of the first industrial flour mills in the north of Ireland here.


Crumlin Glen is signed off to the left on the Nutt’s Corner Road in Crumlin, just before the railway bridge as you head out of the town. To start this walk, follow the path at the far (west) end of the car park over a footbridge and uphill where you then turn left.

Follow the sign down to the Cockle House. After the Cockle House, continue down to the riverbank and follow the path along its side. You soon reach a footbridge over the river to your left. Cross it and follow the path leading away from the river.

This section of path leads to Cidercourt Road. Turn right here, crossing Cidercourt Road almost immediately to join a public right of way leading to Main Street.

Turn left onto Main Street and then left again onto Mill Road, then continue back to the starting point.

the backdrop

The walk passes through some beautiful woods and in spring the woodland floor is carpeted with a mix of bluebells, wood anemone and wild garlic, the air often filled with its strong, sweet smell.

The Cockle House is a small gothic-arched construction set among mature beech trees and offering impressive views to the nearby waterfall. According to tradition, the Cockle House was built by the local landlord for a favoured servant. The servant was Muslim and the structure was built facing Mecca.

The path soon passes some exposures of dark-coloured rock, layers of which are separated by thin red-coloured partings. The dark-coloured rock is the volcanic rock basalt and it erupted here as lava some 60 million years ago, each layer representing a separate lava flow.

At that time, north-east Ireland witnessed many volcanic eruptions, caused as the European and North American continents, which were joined together at that time, began a long process of separation. The thin red layers represent where the newly erupted lava flows were weathered down into iron-rich soils in the sub-tropical climate of 60 million years ago. Thankfully, Crumlin is a lot quieter these days and has not been troubled by volcanic activity for the last 58 million years.

The wood here is mixed with a wide variety of trees, plants and birds. Among the birdlife are herons and dippers, while down in the river otters can occasionally be seen.

The river is also home to a native stock of brown and dollaghan trout and fishing is a popular sport here. The fishing rights are owned by the Crumlin and District Angling Club. Fishing permits are available from Glen Service Station, Crumlin, tel: 028 9442 2356. Rod licences are available from Antrim Information Centre.

Crumlin is a busy small town with a good variety of shops, restaurants and bars. Close by is the Talnotory Avian Care Trust wildlife centre. This sanctuary cares for sick, injured and abandoned birds along with small mammals.

The centre may be visited Monday–Friday, 10am-3pm, Saturday, 10am–1pm and on Sundays from 2-4pm.

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

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: Crumlin Glen.

Area: Co Antrim.

Nearest big town to start point: Crumlin.

Distance: 1.8 miles, circular

Time: 30 minutes.

Terrain: Some steep sections that may not be suitable for those with limited mobility.

Access Restrictions: There is another entrance off Cidercourt Road. Please note there is an entrance gate here (opening times 7am-9pm, April to Sept, 8am-6pm, Oct-March). Contact Antrim Borough Council for further details.

Refreshments: The village of Crumlin has several places to eat and drink.

Publications: Antrim Borough: A Walking Guide. This leaflet is available to download for free on Antrim Borough Council’s website,

Walk Developed By: Crumlin Glen is owned by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and is managed by the Rivers Agency.

Ordnance Survey Map: Sheet 14 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discovery Series, available from OSNI Map Shop, Colby House, Stranmillis, Belfast BT9 SBJ,

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