N Ireland - Historic cities, spectacular glens, wild coasts
Enjoy "Two Irelands for the price of one". Our Northern Ireland walk is enhanced this year with a visit to Londonderry, one of the finest walled cities in Europe and UK City of Culture in 2013. There is also a two night visit to Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, including a relaxed day's walking on Doagh Island (now a peninsula) and a visit to the Famine folk museum.
The delights of Antrim and its coast encompass some of the UK's finest visual experiences such as the iconic Giant's Causeway and Rathlin Island with its colony of seals competing for attention with the haunting cries of seabirds soaring and diving around rugged cliffs.
Walk Rating: Moderate. Spectacular coastal paths, unspoiled moorland, some hills. 8-10 miles walking per day.
US$3,995.00 per person double occupancy
The walk begins in Belfast with arrival at Belfast Central Station, and ends in Ballyliffin with departure from Belfast International Airport.
Rendezvous in Belfast for a poignant black taxi tour of the town. For many years visitors avoided Northern Ireland until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The Troubles are obviously the ‘elephant’ in the Northern Irish living room and so, to set the scene for our walk ahead, we see some of those unforgiving murals and the strident graffiti. The strife in Northern Ireland can be traced back over eight hundred years. We see the memorial plots and the peace walls of Shanklin and the Falls and hear some first hand accounts from people who lived through those troubled times. After our tour of Belfast, we take a private transfer to our hotel in Ballygally.
We drive to the plateau behind our hotel and walk with spendid views of Scotland across the sea, down into Glenarm, one of the nine Glens of Antrim. We continue to the private Glenarm Castle with its beautiful park, home to the Earls of Antrim. We take lunch in the castle's gardens and enjoy a walk through the Earl's private garden and estate. This evening we have dinner at a private house in Larne.
We drive to the Queen of Glens described as “Switzerland in Miniature” to explore the most dramatic of the nine Glens of Antrim, Glenariff. We pass waterfalls, gorges and woodland and continue to the famous famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge hanging precariously over an eighty feet chasm (crossing it is optional!). Then we head to the tiny, harbour village of Ballintoy and walk along the water's edge of the glorious sandy beach at White Park Bay. We end our day at our charming hotel in Bushmills.
We pick up our trail to Ballycastle Bay where we take a ferry to fascinating Rathlin Island, eight miles off the coast towards Scotland. This boomerang shaped island has a particularly unspoilt environment which attracts geologists, botanists and birdwatchers alike and its very steadily rising population has reached just over 100! It is where Robert the Bruce retreated from Edward I (Longshanks) in 1306 and where, in 1898, Marconi made the world's first radio communication.
We walk along a memorable and stunning stretch of coastline past the Giant's Causeway - the extraordinary geological phenomenon of forty thousand basalt columns. We descend by the shepherds' steps to the Stones themselves and the new visitor centre. After lunch we walk the beautiful coastal surroundings of Downhill Demesne with spectacular views westwards over Downhill Strand towards Magilligan Point and County Donegal and to the east Castlerock beach towards Portstewart, Portrush and Fair Head. On the estate of the Bishop of Derry, we reach the Temple Mussenden, built in 1785 as a summer library with an architechtural style that pays tribute to the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli. We catch the ferry to the Inishowen Penisula where our country house hotel is located in the coastal village of Ballyliffin.
This morning we walk to Doagh Island and spend a the morning walking amidst wild flowers admiring coastal views. We visit the Famine Folk Museum with it's genuine 19th century thatched cottages and real life exhibits, drawing new meaning from defining moments in Ireland's history. The tour provides a weath of information about Irish immigration to the Americas, Australia and elsewhere. After lunch at the Beach House, we drive to Londonderry, the only remaining walled city in Ireland and the finest example of its type in all of Europe. We walk the historic city walls and take in the sights of this vibrant center, UK City of Culture in 2013, before returning to our hotel for our Farewell Dinner.
We bid farewell after breakfast and transfer to Belfast International Airport for our onward connections.
This itinerary represents a typical Walk. We prepare itineraries well in advance of the trip and therefore we reserve the right to make changes due to weather, local events or other circumstances - but always to improve the experience of our guests.
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Bushmills Inn - Tuesday & Wednesday
Bushmills Inn Hotel
Co. Antrim BT57 8QG
T: +44 (0)2820-733-000
This award-winning hotel & restaurant has very successfully recreated its origins as the oldest Coaching Inn and Mill House dating back to 1608. Located in the same village as the world’s oldest distillery, between the Giant’s Causeway and Royal Portrush Golf Club, this hotel excels in providing an inherently warm, welcoming and relaxing atmosphere.
The rooms are spacious and include telephone, TV, radio, hospitality tray, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, trouser presser, room safe and connection for modem or fax. Overlooking the garden courtyard, the award-winning restaurant takes in the original 17th century stables and wine cellar. The “Taste of Ulster” restaurant welcomes visitors for an imaginatively planned selection of dishes with a unique blend of classical and new Irish cuisine. Relax and savour the atmosphere of the Victorian bar and sample a glass of 25 year-old Bushmills malt whiskey from the hotel’s private cask.
This hotel list is a provided as an example. We may use different hotels of the same quality and style on specific trips. The Wayfarers will notify confirmed travelers of any changes to the hotels.
Before & After Your Walk:
- Spare a couple of days for vibrant Dublin, only two hours away by train
- For the full Irish experience, visit the Ring of Kerry as well
- Enjoy some of the local golf courses.
Temperatures usually range from around 45º to 65ºF (7º to 18ºC) in spring/autumn and from 60º to 70º F (15º to 21ºC) in summer although it can rise to around 80º F (27ºC) on some days. You are likely to need a light jacket or sweater in the evenings. Rainfall is unpredictable but occurs all year round and can be heavy, even in summer. Equally there can be long spells of warm dry weather so you will need to bring clothing to accommodate all situations.
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Are there any hidden costs?
Our Vacations do not include the cost of air or rail fares to and from the destination or tips for your walk leader and manager.
How large are the Groups?
Our maximum group size is 16, but groups average between 8-12 people.
Will I feel welcome as a single traveler?
Yes! Our walks are the perfect environment of comfortable camaraderie for the single traveler.
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How physically fit do I have to be to do a Wayfarers Walk?
If you are in good health and reasonably fit you will be comfortable participating in a walk.
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