Northern Ireland's Causeway Coastal Route
The Causeway Coastal Route of Northern Ireland is renowned as one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. All Vagabond and Driftwood Tours that include Northern Ireland spend at least one day exploring this magical area.*
Stay in a 17th Century Castle Hotel
If you're taking one of our relaxed Driftwood tours that visit Northern Ireland, you'll be lucky enough to begin your journey along the Antrim coast from Ballygally Castle Hotel.
Sitting proudly on the Causeway Coastal Route, the 400 year old castle section of the hotel is the only 17th century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today.
...Or Raise Your Glass to Churchill!
If you're taking one of our active Vagabond tours that visit Northern Ireland, you'll begin your journey along the Causeway Coastal Route from the historic Londonderry Arms hotel.
This charming Victorian-era hotel is located in the small coastal village of Carnlough, directly on the Causeway Coastal Route. Once owned Sir Winston Churchill, the Londonderry Arms has character in abundance.
Sitting in the hotel bar, it's easy to picture the old British bulldog reclining into one of the bar's antique Chesterfield armchairs, waxing lyrical and drinking excessive amounts of brandy!
The 9 Glens of Antrim
Leaving the sea to our right-hand side, we set off for the spectacular Glens of Antrim.
These beautiful valleys were made famous by the song Danny Boy.
"Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling from glen to glen, and down the mountain side."
The names of the 9 Glens of Antrim, translated from Irish, helps shed some light on their original meaning:
Glenarm - glen of the army
Glencloy - glen of the dykes
Glenariff - glen of the plough
Glenballyemon - Edwardstown Glen
Glanaan - glen of the little fords
Glencorp - glen of the dead
Glendun - brown glen
Glenshesk - glen of the sedges (reeds)
Glentaisie - after Taisie, princess of Rathlin Island
Soon after the Glens of Antrim, we approach Torr Head. On a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of Scotland. It's only 18km (12 miles) across the Irish Sea.
After passing through the village of Ballycastle, where Europe's most ancient animal fair still takes place, we begin to climb. Rathlin Island comes into view offshore. This is where the Vikings first landed in Ireland, around 1200 years ago.
Spotted passers-by in medieval dress? You can safety assume you're looking at a Game of Thrones fan. The History Channel series was filmed in this area.
Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
Our next stop on the Causeway Coastal Route is the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.
Migrating salmon used to be netted by local fishermen here. Now, the rope bridge attracts a different type of visitor. You'll need nerves of steel to cross this 20m (66 feet) long rope bridge, suspended 30m (100 feet) over the waves.
The Giant's Causeway
The day just keeps getting better! Next on our itinerary is the legendary Giant's Causeway.
There are just over 1000 UNESCO World Heritage sites in existence globally. The Giant's Causeway is the only site so honoured in Northern Ireland.
This wonder of geology comprises approximately 40,000 hexagon shaped basalt rocks. Before scientists suggested volcanic origins, folklore explained the causeway as an escape route for the mythical giant, Finn McCool:
"Finn is having trouble with someone across the water. The Scottish giant Benandonner is threatening Ireland. An enraged Finn grabs chunks of the Antrim coast and throws them into the sea. The rock forms a path for Finn to follow and teach Benandonner a lesson."
Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
All this sightseeing is thirsty work! And it's only the finest whiskey for our Vagabonds and Driftwooders!
With that in mind, the next stop on the Causeway Coastal Route is Bushmills. Believe it or not, the world's oldest licensed whiskey distillery gained its licence way back in 1608.
A walking tour of this working distillery concludes, fittingly, in the bar. Bushmills is the only distillery in Ireland to make triple-distilled single malt whiskey. Any visit to Northern Ireland is not complete without a taste of Ireland's uisce beatha (water of life).
Before we end our Causeway Coastal Route adventure, it would be rude not to stop at the majestic castle ruins of Dunluce.
According to some archaeologists, the medieval town of Dunluce would have had some of Europe's first indoor toilets.
A Historic Night To Crown Your Causeway Tour
Beech Hill Country House Hotel near Derry is our favourite hotel for relaxing after exploring the Causeway Coastal Route.
Over 400 years, the hotel has featured in many major historic events: the 1641 Rebellion; the 1689 Siege of Derry; hosting of US Navy personnel during the Second World War II.
Enjoy an evening of great food, luxury rooms and super comfy beds. We guarantee there's another great day coming along tomorrow.
Active Vagabond Tours that Visit the Causeway Coastal Route:
Relaxed Driftwood Tours that Visit the Causeway Coastal Route:
* Depending on your tour, you may travel the Causeway Coastal Route in either clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Mark's diary follows the clockwise route.