> Hillwalk Tours Blog > Featured Posts > Ultimate Guide to the Antrim Glens & Coastline
POSTED BY February 14, 2023

Route Overview

Where is the Antrim Glens & Coastline trail?

The Antrim Glens & Coastline is a hiking trail in Northern Ireland, contained mostly in the county of Antrim. Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland and which is part of the United Kingdom. Our Antrim Glens & Coastline tours predominantly follow the ‘Ulster Way’, ‘Moyle Way’ and ‘Causeway Coast’ trails, while also including some additional non-waymarked sections which we think add to the hiking experience in Northern Ireland. The total length of the different sections of these hikes are 45km (28 miles) for the Glens of Antrim (Moyle Way), various trails on Rathlin Island with a total length of 24km (15 miles) and almost 70km (44 miles) of beautiful hiking along the Causeway Coast.

Moyle Way Sign on the Antrim Glens and Ulster Coast Walking Tour
Moyle Way Sign

Why the Antrim Glens & Coastline trail?

If a rich history, enshrined in folklore and mythology sounds like your cup of tea, then look no further than Northern Ireland for your hike. Explore a coastline with untamed natural beauty, and a trail with many sites of geological, archaeological, and cultural interest which ensures that there is always something to pique your interest around the corner. Although very much a coastal trail, the trail itself offers relatively flat terrain, with only a few climbs. The landscape is absolutely jaw-dropping, with some of the best coastal scenery Europe has to offer. One of the finest coastal walks worldwide lies between Ballintoy and Portballintrae.

There are many highlights to be found along the trail including the iconic tourist attractions of Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (A breath-taking walk over a 66 foot (20m) long rope suspension bridge), Dunluce and Dunseverick Castle (magnificent castle remains), The Giant’s Causeway (with it’s ‘world class’ visitor centre), Glenariff Forest Park (a picturesque forest park) and the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery (Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery).

If you are a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones, then there are numerous locations along the trail (and some not too far off it) that may look familiar too!

Best time to visit? Busiest periods etc.

For the best experience on the Antrim Glens & Coastline trail the summer months are an ideal time to visit, as attractions and places to eat will have better opening hours and the weather will be more desirable. In general, the trail isn’t the busiest walking trail but Ballycastle, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, The Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills and Dunluce Castle (more about these later) are all popular bus and day trip tourist destinations. 

In addition, due to limited accommodation options caused by the popular week-long North West 200 motorsport event (which usually takes place on the 2nd week in May every year), it’s advisable not to attempt this trail during this event. For this reason, it is not possible to book an Antrim Glens & Coastline tour with Hillwalk Tours while the festival is taking place. If you were planning an Antrim tour for these dates, please contact us for alternative possibilities.

How long does it take to walk?

Depending on your fitness level and preferred pace you can complete the route in a varied number of days. This also depends on how many photos of stunning natural beauty you like to take while hiking!

Many walkers will complete the full route in between 6 to 8 walking days with some even only taking 5 days. Thanks to the many small villages and towns along the trail, you have the option of creating many different route options and stopover locations.

Hillwalk Tours offers two different levels of difficulty on the Antrim Glens and Coastline Trail, Gentle and Moderate (on a lot of our trails we also offer a challenging option). Within these levels, you can choose between 5 to 10-day hiking tours completing either the full route or part of it.

Gentle: With an Average hiking distance of 13-16km (8-10 miles) per day and an average hiking time of 3-5 hours per day, this option will give you plenty of time to feel into the land, enjoy the landscape, take some photos, and enjoy some culture and food along the way.

Moderate: With an Average hiking distance of 16-20km (10-12.5 miles) per day and an average hiking time of 5-7 hours per day, this level will suit people who are used to some regular exercise or who have done some previous hiking. There might be more walking in a day but there should still be time for photos and to relax over lunch.


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Best time for walking the Antrim Glens & Coastline (seasons, HWT season Oct-Mar, daylight etc.)

Northern Ireland’s climate is mild and maritime. It can be wet and cloudy at times throughout the year, but the clouds and rain can really add to the visual appeal of the landscapes, adding to an already ‘moody’ atmosphere and exhilirating experience.

Walkers can expect to experience all four seasons in one day! However, that said, each season does bring it’s own set of characteristics.

Spring (March, April, and May)

Average temperature – 4 °C – 15 °C

Although cooler than the Summer months, there can often be less rain during Springtime.

Summer (June, July, and August)

Average temperature – 10 °C – 19 °C

Summer is the warmest time to visit the North coast, but there are typically no extremes and all sorts of conditions can be experienced.

Autumn (September, October, and November)

Average temperature – 5 °C – 17 °C

In the autumn as the climate cools down, and the daylight hours start to shorten, it can be cloudy and windy. The leaves on the trees, especially in Glenariff Forest Park, turn to beautiful autumnal colours. The day light hours in November can be quite short, which is why Hillwalk Tours do not offer tours along the trail for this month.

Winter (December, January, and February)

Average temperature – 3 °C – 5 °C

The Hillwalk Tours Walking season runs from March to October each year so you will not be able to book with us during these months. If you do decide to walk at this time of year it is worth noting that it will be colder than normal, there will be near Nordic levels of daylight, and there could be frost and ice, so take care!

Tour Route

Types of Trails

Depending on your level of fitness and your own personal preference, our Antrim Glens & Coastline trail comes in two options; Gentle and Moderate levels. A lot of our tours also offer a Challenging option for the more seasoned hiker, but as this trail consists of relatively flat hiking terrain along the Causeway Coast, and only a few, less arduous climbs, there is no challenging option available for this hike. However, if you would like to extend your tour to include more hiking (or relaxing!) this can be catered for.

Gentle Hikes

The gentle option of this trail covers 13-16km or 8-10 miles per day, with the average hiking time being 3-5 hours per day. This is to suit anyone who would like to take their time, observe the beautiful coast and sights on offer, take some photos, soak in the local culture, and get the sense of place and landscape that only the Antrim Glens & Coast can offer. It would also be a great entry point for someone who wants to get in to hiking.

Moderate Hikes

The other option for this trail is the moderate hike, which averages 16-20km or 10-12.5 miles in distance each day, with the average hiking time being 5-7 hours per day. This moderate level is for walkers of a decent level of fitness who would like to fit more walking in to each day while still having plenty of down time to enjoy the sights and culture.

image 19
Fairhead Walk

Hillwalk route notes & location to location stages

Waterfoot to Glenariff Forest Park

(14km • 4 – 6 hours • ↑ 420m): The walk starts with a mostly flat, grassy riverside path and quiet rural lanes. About half way, a climb to 250m on woodland trails in the forest park. At the forest park, are waterfalls, forest trails, riverside walks, a visitor centre, toilets, a shop, and a seasonal restaurant.

Orra Beg to Glenariff Forest Park

(16km • 4 – 6 hours • ↑ 370m): The walk starts at a remote forest car park. A gravel track climbs steadily through forestry towards high, open mountainside. The summit of Slieveanorra offers wide-ranging views over the Antrim hills. The trail descends along faint footpath over rough moorland to climb the slopes of Antrim’s highest peak, Trostan (550m / 1,804ft). Later, the route enters more sheltered forest tracks that guide the walker to the forest park. The trail can be very wet in places, often with fallen trees to avoid and streams to cross.

Orra Beg to Ballycastle

(22km • 5 – 7 hours • ↑ 340m): The walk again starts at a forest car park in a remote mountain countryside. The trail follows secluded forest tracks and riverside paths (can be wet under foot) before climbing up to Breen Wood and its Oakwood Nature Reserve. Quiet country roads along the eastern slopes of Knocklayd lead to tracks through Ballycastle Forest which bring the walkers to Ballycastle town. This walk includes a couple of short, sharp ascents at Breen Woods and Ballycastle Forest. 

Torr Head to Ballycastle

(16/20km, 5 – 8 hours • ↑ 550m/650m): One steep climb along quiet roads up from Torr Head in the very beginning (doesn’t apply to gentle tours). Then an unmarked walk on deserted roads or along the coastline on a cross-country route to Murlough Bay, which can be a little wet. Cliff-top trails & seaside paths around the headland of Fairhead with views towards the Mull of Kintyre (Scotland) and Rathlin Island. For the last few kilometres / miles the main route drops down to sea-level and follows an unmarked path which can become overgrown at certain times of the year and is in a poor condition and rugged or very rugged in places. We offer an ‘escape route’ that follows minor roads to Ballyvoy from where walkers can continue or ask to be picked up by taxi. (Gentle Tours go from Murlough Bay to Ballycastle: 11/14km, 4 – 6 hours, ↑270m/300m)

Rathlin Island

(10/25km • 3 – 7 hours • ↑ 180m/550m): Choice of three routes to the east, west and south lighthouses. The walks follow quiet island roads, tracks and paths. East and south lighthouse routes are gently sloping without any significant elevation change. The west lighthouse route climbs steadily from sea level to visit the cliffs and sea bird colonies at the west lighthouse.

Ballycastle to Ballintoy

(13km • 4 – 6 hours • ↑ 210m): (The official route from Ballycastle to Ballintoy follows the busy B15 Whitepark Road. To avoid this we are using an alternative route which is not sign-posted or marked.) Minor roads out of Ballycastle bring you to a farmyard, from there the trail follows along farm and forest trails. These can on occasion be wet and/or overgrown. A gentle slope that started in Ballycastle keeps climbing along minor roads before the route drops down to join the coastal path to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge to finish. 

Ballintoy to Giant’s Causeway

(18km • 4 – 6 hours • ↑ 330m): A small road leads to Ballintoy Harbour from where the trail then leads along the bottom of the cliffs to the 2km expanse of White Park Bay beach. At the end of the beach, tide permitting, a scramble over some boulders brings walkers to Portbradden. (It is said that at very high tides these boulders may be impassable, but we have never had any walkers run into problems there.) From Portbradden the trail goes along the foot of some cliffs to a path which alternates between the top and the foot of the cliffs. From the ruins of Dunsverick Castle the path follows a cliff top path all the way to the Giant’s Causeway. (Gentle tours continue for 3km along a railway line and a beach from the Giant’s Causeway to Portballintrae and split the walk into two days: Ballintoy to Dunseverick Castle (10km) & Dunseverick Castle to Portballintrae (12km))

Giant’s Causeway to Portstewart

(19km • 4 – 6 hours • ↑ 120m): A mixture of beaches, urban paths and roads. From Portballintrae a 3.5km section of walking along a busy road leads past famous Dunluce Castle. The trail then drops onto a gravel path at White Rocks Cliff before a 2.5km stretch of walking on the sands of Curran Strand towards Portrush. There, urban footpaths and trails bring walkers around Ramore Head and a promenade walk leads along Mill Strand before the walk finishes with a section of cliff top and coastal paths towards Portstewart.

Sample Itineraries

6 Day Gentle

Day 1: Arrival in Ballycastle

Day 2: Ballycastle – Ballintoy (8.7 Miles / 14 Km)

Day 3: Ballintoy – Dunseverick Castle (6.2 Miles / 10 Km)

Day 4: Dunseverick Castle – Portballintrae (8.1 Miles / 13 Km)

Day 5: Dunluce Castle – Portstewart (9.3 Miles / 15 Km)

Day 6: Departure from Portstewart

7 Day Gentle

Day 1: Arrival in Ballycastle

Day 2: Rathlin Island (6.2 or 15.5 Miles / 10 or 25 Km)

Day 3: Ballycastle – Ballintoy (8.7 Miles / 14 Km)

Day 4: Ballintoy – Dunseverick Castle (6.2 Miles / 10 Km)

Day 5: Dunseverick Castle – Portballintrae (8.1 Miles / 13 Km)

Day 6: Dunluce Castle – Portstewart (9.3 Miles / 15 Km)

Day 7: Departure from Portstewart

8 Day Gentle

Day 1: Arrival in Ballycastle

Day 2: Murlough Bay – Ballycastle (8.7 Miles / 14 Km)

Day 3: Rathlin Island (6.2 or 15.5 Miles / 10 or 25 Km)

Day 4: Ballycastle – Ballintoy (8.7 Miles / 14 Km)

Day 5: Ballintoy – Dunseverick Castle (6.2 Miles / 10 Km)

Day 6: Dunseverick Castle – Portballintrae (8.1 Miles / 13 Km)

Day 7: Dunluce Castle – Portstewart (9.3 Miles / 15 Km)

Day 8: Departure from Portstewart

6 Day Moderate

Day 1: Arrival in Ballycastle

Day 2: Rathlin Island (6.2 or 15.5 Miles / 10 or 25 Km)

Day 3: Ballycastle – Ballintoy (8.7 Miles / 14 Km)

Day 4: Ballintoy – Giant’s Causeway (11.2 Miles / 18 Km)

Day 5: Giant’s Causeway – Portstewart (13 Miles / 21 Km)

Day 6: Departure from Portstewart

7 Day Moderate

Day 1: Arrival in Ballycastle

Day 2: Torr Head – Ballycastle (12.4 Miles / 20 Km)

Day 3: Rathlin Island (6.2 or 15.5 Miles / 10 or 25 Km)

Day 4: Ballycastle – Ballintoy (8.7 Miles / 14 Km)

Day 5: Ballintoy – Giant’s Causeway (11.2 Miles / 18 Km)

Day 6: Giant’s Causeway – Portstewart (13 Miles / 21 Km)

Day 7: Departure from Portstewart

8 Day Moderate

Day 1: Arrival in Cushendall

Day 2: Orra Beg – Ballycastle (12.4 Miles / 20 Km)

Day 3: Torr Head – Ballycastle (12.4 Miles / 20 Km)

Day 4: Rathlin Island (6.2 or 15.5 Miles / 10 or 25 Km)

Day 5: Ballycastle – Ballintoy (8.7 Miles / 14 Km)

Day 6: Ballintoy – Giant’s Causeway (11.2 Miles / 18 Km)

Day 7: Giant’s Causeway – Portstewart (13 Miles / 21 Km)

Day 8: Departure from Portstewart

9 Day Moderate

Day 1: Arrival in Cushendall

Day 2: Orra Beg – Glenariff Forest Park (9.9 Miles / 16 Km)

Day 3: Orra Beg – Ballycastle (12.4 Miles / 20 Km)

Day 4: Torr Head – Ballycastle (12.4 Miles / 20 Km)

Day 5: Rathlin Island (6.2 or 15.5 Miles / 10 or 25 Km)

Day 6: Ballycastle – Ballintoy (8.7 Miles / 14 Km)

Day 7: Ballintoy – Giant’s Causeway (11.2 Miles / 18 Km)

Day 8: Giant’s Causeway – Portstewart (13 Miles / 21 Km)

Day 9: Departure from Portstewart

Antrim Glens & Coastline Map

Antrim Glens & Coastline Terrain


For the most part, our Antrim itineraries follow parts of the ‘Ulster Way’, a 1,000km/625 mile long circular official long-distance walking route around Northern Ireland, but they also include some additional non-waymarked sections that offer great views or easier walking. Signage for the Ulster Way features a distinctive blue and yellow marking.

“Ulster Way” sign, Belfast – geograph.org.uk

Where the trail is not waymarked, information will be provided in your walking pack. If you are ever in doubt, you can also check the Hillwalk Tours turn by turn directions and route notes which also include everything you need to know about local information and history as you pass, along with trail alternatives. Want to know more on how to read a map? Check out this blog post.


The Antrim Glens and Coastline trail offers relatively easy walking and as stated earlier in this article, can be taken with two levels of walking in mind: Gentle and Moderate. It is a perfect introductory hike for beginners to long-distance hiking.

Sights & Attractions

Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is probably the definitive attraction of Northern Ireland. Comprising of approximately 40,000 basalt columns, the area is an instantly recognisable landscape of geological and folkloric value and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Giants Causeway
The Giants Causeway

Rathlin Island / Seabird Centre

A short ferry ride from Ballycastle on the mainland, this scenic Island offers an unparalleled beauty and tranquility. There is plenty of opportunity to observe sea birds, with Puffins inhabiting the island between April and July each year. Also on the island is the Seabird Centre, where you can learn more about these beautiful wildlife creatures, and even an opportunity to take a tour of the Lighthouse.

East Lighthouse, Rathlin Island
East Lighthouse, Rathlin Island

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

A breath-taking rope bridge first put in place 250 years ago. Although only 20 meters long, there is a 30 meter drop on to jagged sea rocks. Despite the peril, the payoff comes in the form of stunning views of Rathlin Island, and on a clear day you may even see Scotland.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Bushmills Distillery

Here is your opportunity to visit the oldest distillery in the world! Just a short detour from the trail, the 400 year old distillery offers guided and private tours, as well as tasting experiences.

Barrels stacked at Bushmills Distillery
Bushmills Distillery

Dunluce Castle

See the ruins of a magnificent medieval castle rich in history. Home to several clans throughout the centuries, the sheer edges of the castles dramatic basalt-cut clifftop location plummeting into the Irish Sea would of once made it an advantageous defense point, and today make it one of the most impressive castles on the island of Ireland.

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland
Dunluce Castle

Glenariff Forest Park

Part of the trail goes directly through this stunning forest park with it’s beautiful waterfall walkway. The forest park covers over 1,000 hectares laced with planted woodland, lakes, outdoor recreation spaces and conservation areas. The rocky gorges of the river meandering through the park support a wide range of mosses, liverworts and ferns which, due to the richness and diversity of these plants, resulted in part of the Glenariff Glen being designated as a National Nature Reserve.

Game of Thrones Filming Locations

Many of the locations of HBO’s Game of Thrones were shot in Northern Ireland. A lot of these can be visited along the Antrim Glens and Coastline tour itself, with more still to be found not too far off the trail. These include The Dark Hedges (the road from King’s Landing), Dunluce Castle (Pyke), and Glenariff (the Dothraki Sea).

Game Of Thrones Map Filming Locations Northern Ireland
Our 10-day Moderate Walking Tour is the best choice for your Antrim Glens & Coastline hike as it covers all the locations shown in the map Above.

History & Folklore from Antrim & Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway gets its name from the folklore story that the giant Fionn Mac Cumhail (Finn McCool) created the unique rock formations in a fit of rage during a shouting match across the sea with Scottish Giant Benandonner.

The Ulster Cycle is a medieval Magnus Opus that details some of the ancient legends of Ireland, primarily set in the province of Ulster where our Antrim Glens & Coastline hiking trail is situated. It contains tales of legendary Irish figures such as Queen Medb, Cú Chullainn, and many more. Antrim itself is associated with well-known Celtic mythology such as The Children of Lir and Oisín the Bard. It is for this reason that the Antrim Coastline and Glens are strongly associated with the ‘Wee Folk’, with placenames, such as Breen (Faerie Palace) and Feystown (Faerie Town) even reflecting this.

Storytelling is a big tradition across Northern Ireland, so be sure to keep an ear out for a yarn from the locals, and some may concern the severely haunted Dunluce castle, such as the story of Maeve Rua and Reginald O’Cahan… or the spirit of Peter Carey which to this day roams the ramparts of the castle

On the topic of Dunluce Castle – La Girona was one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, a fleet of ships sent from Spain to invade England. After their defeat, the fleet experienced treacherous conditions, with many ships crashing into the rugged Irish coastline. La Griona came to a fateful end at Dunluce Castle, a gale driving the ship into what is now known as the “Spanish Rocks”.

The Troubles was a conflict in Northern Ireland between the 1960’s and late 1990’s, ending with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. This has left it’s imprint in the various towns, villages and communities throughout Northern Ireland and can be seen in the various murals throughout the region.

The Titanic – a ship that needs no introduction. But did you know that it was built in Belfast? Not far off the trail, Northern Irelands ‘capital’ is known as the first place from which the fabled boat set sail.

Antrim & Northern Ireland’s Pop Culture


Green Green Glens of Antrim by Bridie Gallagher

Antrim has a rich history of folk song, music both traditional and contemporary. Many songs, airs, jigs, and reels have been inspired by this beautiful part of Ireland.

Traditional music, dance and singing are still alive and well here and throughout the island of Ireland.

See below for an Example of an Air about Antrim.

The Blue Hills of Antrim an 1800’s Air by Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil, sang by Maureen Hegarty

Antrim also has a unique and vibrant history with punk rock, with Terry Hooley’s famous Good Vibrations record shop, opened in the early 70s’ in Belfast, and later becoming an independent record label, acting as a base and a source of constant inspiration for generations of musicians in Antrim and Northern Ireland as a whole.

Most notably the scene spawned acts such as Stiff Little Fingers and The Undertones, as well as bands such as Protex, Rudi, and The Outcasts with musicians putting their differences aside to come together through music during what was to say the least, a turbulent period in Northern Ireland’s history. The influence is still felt with more punk and punk adjacent bands from northern Ireland appearing throughout the decades since those first wave of punk bands such as Ash, Therapy?, and Cherym.

Alternative Ulster – Stiff Little Fingers

After his departure with the Undertones, Fergal Sharkey had his own successful pop career and other internationally renowned acts such as Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, And So I Watch You From Afar, Mamas Boys, Sweet Savage and The Divine Comedy all hail from Antrim or it’s neighbouring counties in Northern Ireland.

Film & TV

Good Vibrations (2015)

A comedy-drama film about Terri Hooley’s record shop was released in 2015, Good Vibrations, which tells the story of Terri’s life and how he became such an important figure behind Northern Ireland’s music scene and offers a rare insight into teenage life during the troubles.

Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations
Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations

Man About Dog (2004)

Irreverent comedy about three slackers who inadvertently wind up on a crime fueled adventure while trying to pay back a £50k debt to a violent bookie, while making some ‘friends’ along the way.

Man About Dog
Man About Dog

Belfast (2021)

Belfast is an Oscar winning star studded coming of age film starring Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench and Jamie Dornan. It’s about a young boy and his working class protestant family living in Belfast in the 1960s, at the beginning of the Troubles.

Belfast film 2021

The Boys From County Hell (2020)

A horror movie about the original Dracula. Loosely based on the early Irish legend of Abhartach, a dwarf type creature said to be slain by Finn McCool and burried under a dolmen near Derry, this movie set in a fictional rural Northern Irish village puts forward the idea that Abhartach is in fact the original Dracula, and has been freed from his gravesite which has been demolished due to a new road being built.

The Boys From County Hel
The Boys From County Hell

Mickeybo and Me (2004)

Based on the play Mojo Mickybo, this comedy-drama set in 1970 is about two boys from different backgrounds (one protestant, one catholic), united by their love for the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They run away from home, headed for Australia – against a backdrop of conflict.

Mickeybo and Me
Mickybo & Me

Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019)

All that aside, there is one global phenomenon that Antrim is closely associated with, and through which a lot of people are probably a lot more familiar with the landscape of Antrim than they think. In 2010 filming began for a little series called Game of Thrones. It is possible now to visit most of the locations used in the series – with a lot of them either on or just off our Antrim Glens and Coastline walking tour some of which have been outlined above.

'The Kingsroad' AKA The Dark Hedges
‘The Kingsroad’ AKA The Dark Hedges

Other noteworthy films an tv shows centred around Antrim and Northern Ireland include The Crying Game (1992), In the Name of the Father (1993), Silent Grace (2001) Hunger (2008), and based a stone’s throw from Antrim, the hilarious Derry Girls (2018).

Books, Literature & Authors

Seamus Heaney

World-renowned poet Seamus Heaney (13 April 1939 – 30 August 2013), who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995, studied in Antrim (Queens University, Belfast) and was greatly inspired by the land and people there and throughout Northern Ireland. Many world leaders and politicians have quoted Heany’s words, particularly the phrase “If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.” Some of his best and most popular work can be found in his books North (1975), The Spirit Level (1996), and Death of a Naturalist (1966).

Seamus Heaney, Irish Poet
Seamus Heaney

A postcard for you, Sean,
And that’s you swinging alone,
Antic, half-afraid,
In your gallowglass’s beard
And swallow-tail of serge:
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Ghost-written on sepia.

A Postcard From North Antrim – Seamus Heaney (Published in Field Work ,1979)

C.S. Lewis

Of course, Antrim was home to another literary great – C.S. Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963). Lewis is of course famous for writing The Chronicles of Narnia which has since seen several major adaptions. He is also known for writing a science fiction series entitled The Space Trilogy and The Screwtape Letters a book about Christianity that he dedicated to his long-time friend J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe one of the books that forms C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe one of the books that forms C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia

Now that you have a flavour for the type of literature Antrim has to offer, here are some books that might help you on your hike:

Causeway Coastal Route – Seth Linder, 2020.

All about one of the world’s greatest road trips – from Belfast to Derry. Although this is a book about driving, it follows a similar route as our Antrim Glens and Coastline hiking tour and goes into detail about the cultural heritage and history of the region, including the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, the Bushmills Distillery as well as other hidden gems.

Causeway Coastal Route - Seth Linder
Causeway Coastal Route – Seth Linder

The Glens of Antrim – Steven Hanna, 2009

This book of gorgeous photos consists of 70 panoramic images of the breathtaking Antrim landscape by Northern Ireland photographer Steven Hanna.

The Glens of Antrim by Steven Hanna
The Glens of Antrim – Steven Hanna

Ireland’s Beautiful North – Dominic Kearney and Carsten Krieger 2017

Ireland’s Beautiful North acts as an introduction to the province of Ulster and its nine counties, which of course includes Antrim. This book is comprised of history, mythology and a general appreciation for the culture and landscape of Northern Ireland accompanied by the unique landscape photographs of highly acclaimed photographer Carsten Krieger.

Ireland's Beautiful North - Dominic Kearney and Carsten Krieger
Ireland’s Beautiful North – Dominic Kearney and Carsten Krieger

Food & Drink

Ulster Fry

If Antrim and Northern Ireland are famous for one type of food it is the Ulster Fry. Varying from both the Full Irish Breakfast and the Full English Breakfast, no trip to Northern Ireland would be complete without one. An Ulster Fry consists of sausages, bacon, black and white pudding, and most importantly potato and soda bread (all fried). Other breakfast items can be included, but this may be deemed controversial depending on who you are talking to!

ulster fry
 Ulster fry, Kent Wang https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ulster_fry_1.jpg

Potato Bread

The most integral and defining part of the Ulster Fry, these delicious fried floury farls are unique to the region of Ulster, and are a firm favourite of locals and visitors alike.

image 1

Belfast Bap

The Belfast Bap, sometimes used to turn an Ulster Fry into a mega breakfast sandwich, was originally created by master bread maker Bernard Hughes during the Great Hunger of the mid 1800s to feed the hungry in Belfast. It’s a small soft white loaf with a hard crust and can still be bought in shops in Northern Ireland today.

belfast bap
Belfast Bap

The Chippy

Chippy or Chipper? That depends which side of the Irish border you are on. In Northern Ireland, like the rest of the UK it’s referred to as a chippy. It’s a weekly ritual for a lot of the residents of Northern Ireland to ‘get a chippy’. You will find an abundance of chip shops along your trail. Expect everything from fresh cut chips, battered fish, battered sausages, burgers, and an assortment of condiments.

Fish and Chips
Traditional Fish & Chips

Vegan Options

If that sounds like a bit too much meat and/or grease for your liking, let’s take a moment to talk about vegan options. In rural areas, it can be harder to find varied menus, particularly ones that cater for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free diets etc. That said, it is becoming more and more common to see different options. These places may take a bit more effort to find so through doing a bit of research on the web or using apps like Vanilla Bean and Happy Cow, and doing some good old-fashioned asking around, you may be more likely to find gluten-free, vegan and organic options.

Bushmills Whiskey

Bushmills Distillery, which as we highlighted earlier in this article, is near the trail, and is the home place to the much-loved Irish Whiskey, Bushmills and Black Bush. Known for its smooth, warm taste, Bushmills whiskey has been a staple for whisky connoisseurs for generations. 

Bushmills Irish Whiskey

Irish Stew 

Warm up the body after a day of hiking with a homegrown bowl of hearty Irish stew. The perfect dish during the depths of winter or a chilly spring day, stew is made in a single pot with vegetables and beef. A satisfying and tasty meal that will feed the belly and the soul. 

Traditional Irish Stew
Traditional Irish Stew


Champ is a type of creamy mashed potato side dish that originates on the Ulster coast. It is also known as poundies and is similar to it’s southern counterpart colcannon. Other than potatoes, champ contains copious amounts of butter and milk (and sometimes cream) along with finely diced scallions, and makes for a deliciously decadent side for any dish especially the stew mentioned above.

Traditional Irish Champ
Traditional Irish Champ

Shepherd’s Pie 

Possibly Ireland’s most beloved dishes, Shepherd’s Pie is made with a layer of ground beef or lamb and veggies, and is topped with creamy mashed potatoes before being baked to perfection. The dish actually originated in Scotland where crust was used in place of potatoes. However, once it arrived to Ireland, potatoes were quickly opted for instead, and the dish has become a household favourite throughout the country. 

Shepherds Pie
Shepherds Pie


It would be near impossible to visit a cosy pub on the island of Ireland and not try a pint of creamy Guinness. Although made in Dublin, this iconic drink is a firm favourite in every corner of the Emerald Isle.

Guinness Pint
Guinness Pint

Nearby Trails

There are various other trails available to you once you have completed the Antrim Glens and Coastline. Here are some other nearby Hillwalk Tours we offer:

Antrim Glens & Coastline Tips and FAQS

Probably the most common question asked when walking the Antrim Glens & Coastline or planning any hiking holiday is – what will I pack?

Once you have fully booked your Hillwalk Tours hiking holiday, you will receive a detailed ‘recommended equipment’ list inside your walking pack. For those of you who are still unsure, here are some of things we advise you bring with you along the Antrim Glens & Coastline:

– Waterproof Clothes
– Fleece and other warm clothing
– Base Layer
– Light and comfortable trousers
– Wicking Socks
– Suitable Hiking Boots
– Backpack/Rucksack
– Hat and Gloves
– First Aid Kit & Foil Blanket
– Whistle & Torch
– Insect Repellent & Midge Net
– Mobile Phone
– Plug Adapter/Converter

For more on what to pack – check out these packing musts.

If you are thinking of bringing your four-legged friend with you, it is important to note various situations. It is advised that dogs are always kept on a short lead and close to their owners. While walking along the Antrim Glens & Coastline, there are certain periods where you will cross and come close to farmland areas. It is imperative to keep an eye out for signage along the way that may forbid dogs on certain parts of the trail. Dogs are forbidden from entering fields where fruit or vegetables grow unless there is a clear path. Realistically, it may be more hassle than it is worth, and it might also distract you from taking in the spectacular views and remaining in the present moment.

In addition, due to most of the accommodations we work with not accepting pets of any kind, it is not possible to bring any pets, such as your dog, on a Hillwalk Tours hiking holiday.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. You may be concerned about the safety in Northern Ireland due to its ‘colourful’ history. A lot has changed since the 1998 Peace agreement, and although no part of the world is without its incidents, Northern Ireland is very safe these days. It is also important to note that rural and tourist locations are not known for being the target of any incidents in Northern Ireland.

As there are some occasional road links on the trail, it is advisable to be vigilant and wear high-visibility clothing when on these sections. It is also advisable to wear long sleeves and trousers to prevent tick bites.

There are numerous online resources and services hikers can avail of:
The Northern Ireland  Mountain Rescue Team – provides a 24 hour call out service.
Walk NI – Your definitive guide to coastal, parkland, urban, riverside and forest trails.

If you experience any difficulty or an emergency of any level, it is advised that you phone the relative emergency services on 999 or 112. It is also important to note that mobile/cell phones can call this number with or without mobile/cell phone reception.

For those who have fully booked their Hillwalk Tours hiking holiday on the Antrim Glens & Coastline, we provide 24/7 on-call support to all of our customers and you will also receive a detailed description on how to remain safe on your hike.

Antrim Glens and Coastline is a great trail for solo hikers to take. There have been no known issues for solo hikers on this trail. Hillwalk Tours offer walking tours on this trail for solo hikers during the walking season.

We believe that the beauty of the Irish countryside should be enjoyed by everyone. With this in mind, we designed our hiking tours to cater for practically all levels of fitness. Our range of ‘Gentle’, ‘Moderate’ and ‘Challenging’ hikes in all regions allows you to decide how far you wish to walk each day and the pace you set. So, whether you are a novice walker or an experienced hiker, we have the tour to suit you.

It is possible to cycle the Antrim Glens & Coastline but it is also important to note that Antrim Glens & Coastline is designed as a long distance walking route so you will frequently come across terrain specifically for walkers. It might be best to leave the bicycle at home this time!

Antrim Glens & Coastline Image Gallery

Hillwalk Tours

About Us

Hillwalk Tours is an award-winning walking tour operator which specialise in self-guided walking holidays in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Our goal is to create happy experiences for all of our customers, suppliers & staff.

Fill out the form below with any questions you may have and we will get back to you promptly.

Leave No Trace

We like to walk in nature and since you are reading this – we believe you do too! It is important to ensure that our impact on the environment is limited so that hikers can enjoy the same view after us. The rule applies: when you leave, make sure that nature looks the same as when you arrived or simply put “leave no trace.” As more and more people take to the great outdoors, our collective mark on the environment increases.

What does this mean in reality? Of course, do not leave any rubbish or waste behind. Do not collect stones, flowers, or other “souvenirs”. Don’t carve your name on a tree or break branches… I think you get the drift. It is imperative for walkers to play their part in making sure litter, damage to vegetation and all forms of pollution are limited.

Noise can also be a form of pollution. Whoever walks through a forest talking and laughing loudly, for example, ruins the peace and quiet of other walkers, who can no longer hear the birds. The same goes for cell phones that suddenly start ringing. Keep the volume down and respect your surroundings. Ultimately, the point is to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy walking through nature. So that applies to you, but also to those who tread the path after you.

Hillwalk Tours proudly supports sustainable tourism and loves the countryside as it is – wild, peaceful and clean. We are proud to support the “Leave No Trace” initiative that aims to preserve the natural beauty of each nations countryside where we offer hiking holidays. We try to create happy experiences for our accommodation too, and the restaurants, shops and taxi companies that serve our walkers. These are often small businesses located in isolated areas that have been left behind by urban migration and a lack of investment in rural regions. Their warm hospitality and friendly welcomes epitomise the magic of a Hillwalk Tour and we’re dedicated to helping keep these rural communities alive.

The Benefits of Hiking

In recent years, walking and hiking outdoors has been widely reported to have numerous physical and mental health benefits. The following are examples of some of these benefits:

  • Improve strength and fitness
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle gain
  • Improve metabolism
  • Improve digestion
  • Better quality sleep
  • Increase in Vitamin D
  • Improve discipline
  • Sense of achievement

Hiking Equipment List

For a more in-depth list of recommended hiking equipment list, click here.