- Tour of Belfast and insight into The Troubles
- Spectacular coastal walking to The Giants Causeway
- Ferry trip to wild Rathlin Island
- Walk the historic Walls of Londonderry
- Visit the Famine Folk Museum
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.
Sunday Overnight: Ballygally Castle Hotel
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 Shankill 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.
Monday Overnight: Ballygally Castle
Tuesday Overnight: Bushmills Inn Hotel
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 Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge hanging precariously over an eighty feet chasm (crossing it is optional!) Then we head to the tiny, harbor 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.
Wednesday Overnight: Bushmills Inn Hotel
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 bird watchers 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.
Thursday Overnight: Ballyliffin Townhouse
We walk along a memorable and stunning stretch of coastline past the Giant's Causeway - the extraordinary geological phenomenon of 40,000 basalt columns. We descend by the shepherds' steps to the Stones themselves and the new visitor center. 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 architectural 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.
Friday Overnight: Ballyliffin Townhouse
Amidst wild flowers and coastal views, we walk to Doagh Island and 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 wealth 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.
(Single Supplement $565.00)
Departure: Belfast City Airport
Hotels - Where we stay
Perched on the tip of one of the greatest road journeys, the Causeway Coastal Route, sits a 17th castle called Ballygally Castle. Originally built in 1625, it has a fascinating history. It has glorious views over the golden sands of Ballygally Bay towards Scotland and is just a small distance from the 9 Glens of Antrim and the Giants Causeway. The original period rooms have been sympathetically and cleverly updated to retain the enchanting charm of the original castle. Each bedroom has its own style and charm and offers ensuite bathroom, phone, TV, tea/coffee-making facilities and hairdryer. The Garden Restaurant serves up a range of delicious dishes, many using the finest local produce.
Guests at Ballygally Castle can enjoy the use of Cairndhu Golf Course, with its magnificent coastal views. Only 2 miles from the hotel, tee off times and preferred green fees can be arranged by the hotel. Other excellent courses nearby include Portstewart, Castlerock and Masserene.
Bushmills Inn Hotel
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 worlds oldest distillery, between the Giants 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 hotels private cask.
Recently refurbished and updated, the TownHouse is bright, spacious and welcoming. On the Inishowen peninsula, it overlooks lovely Pollan Bay, just a stone’s throw away. Rooms are equipped with a hospitality tray, satellite TV, direct dial phone, ensuite bathroom with power shower, toiletries and hairdryer. A favorite rendezvous for both locals and visitors, the TownHouse has a bar where guests can experience evenings of the Irish craic and a menu offering a wide selection of fresh local seafood, meats and seasonal produce.
Start planning your trip
What Is Included in the Price of My Vacation
- Full-time services of two staff - a Walk Leader and Walk Manager
- A backup vehicle for resting walkers and moving luggage
- Comprehensive Travel Information Package and Reading List
- Diverse itineraries with an emphasis on history, geography, culture, peoples, flora and fauna
- Demonstrations, wine tasting, admissions to museums and historic sites
- All ground transfers (ferries, cable cars, trains, etc.)
- Maps and unique souvenirs to commemorate your trip
- First-class accommodations with cultural and historical interest
- All meals - with choices - (Special dietary requirements? No problem!)
- Wine with dinner
- On-trail snacks and refreshments
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants