Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Discover the Natural Wonders of the North Antrim Coast, Ireland

The natural wonders along the North Antrim coast are aplenty, awe-inspiring rocky coastline juxtaposed with lush green glens and forests. Considered one of the most scenic coastlines of Ireland, the North Antrim coast is well worth a visit. Here are just a few of the natural wonders you will see along the way.

The White Rocks
The "White Rocks" of Portrush in County Antrim, Northern Ireland are cliffs made of chalk. The natural formations of White Rock’s coastline provide a fascinating and breathtaking insight into the natural landscaping talents of the sea. These soft, sedimentary rocks have been carved through centuries into labyrinths of caves and arches. Shelagh’s Head, the Wishing Arch, Elephant Rock and the Lion’s Paw are headlands of distinguishable forms which rise out of the ocean. The Whiterocks Beach was recently awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award making this a worthy natural attraction.

The Glens of Antrim
Comprising 9 glen valleys that radiate from the North Antrim Coast, the Glens are an area of outstanding beauty. Within twenty square miles you can enjoy natural landscape that covers glacial valleys, sandy beaches, vertical cliffs, tundra plateau, boglands, wooded decidious glens, coniferous forests, waterfalls and picturesque villages. Ancient sites and places of intrigue abound. In the Glens there is evidence of Neolithic communities from megalithic tombs in the uplands to settlements near the coast.

Rathlin Island
Rathlin Island, an island off the Coast of Antrim, is the northernmost point of the region and is 15 miles from Scotland. Rathlin Island is known for being the first place of Viking raid in Ireland in 795. Over the centuries the strategic island has suffered turmoil from the warring Scots, Irish and English, as well as suffering during the famine years which decimated its population. The wildlife and natural environment is something to behold, from the colony of seals basking on rocks at Rue Point to the vast colonies of seabirds nesting at Bull Point or the lone buzzard hunting above rare orchids on Altacarry Head. It's shorelines and landscapes are a naturalist's paradise and its ambience precious. Many shipwrecks have taken place around the island which in summer attracts divers from all over the world.

White Park Bay
White Park Bay is among the most painted and photographed scenes in Northern Ireland. The spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. The beach is backed by ancient dunes that provide a range of rich habitats for bird and animal life. White Park Bay was one the first settlements of man in Ireland and evidence of these Neolithic settles are continually exposed on the raised beach and sand dune system. Three passage tombs stand on the high points of surrounding hills overlooking the bay. The most striking and well-known being the dolmen known as the Druids Altar.

Layde enjoys a secluded coastal site nestled among the scenic Glens of Antrim. A path runs from the National Trust car park to a small beach, passing the ruins of Layde Church which dates from around 1300.

Fair Head
Fair Head is one of the great headlands of Ireland, its sheer face rising some 600 feet above sea level, making it Northern Ireland’s tallest cliff face. From the top spectacular views can be had of Rathlin, Scotland and Murlough Bay. Its impressive profile can be seen from Ballycastle and many other points along the North Coast.

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
Spanning a chasm some 80 feet deep, the famous and vertigo-inducing 66 foot Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge once consisted of a single rope hand rail and widely spaced slats. It was originally a seasonal working bridge for fishermen, since the demise of salmon fishing along the north coast, the bridge is nowadays used and marketed as a tourist attraction.

Giant’s Causeway
Popular in myth and modern culture, the Giant’s Causeway offers one of the most unique natural landscapes in Europe with over 40,000 hexagon-like basalt columns interlocked in a honeycomb fashion.

Antrim Coast Road
Often considered the most scenic stretch of road in the British Isles, the Causeway Coastal Route, aka Antrim Coast Road, meanders almost the entire length of Northern Ireland’s Coast with rolling green hills dotted with sheep, cottages enclosed by short stone walls and Norman castles in varying stages of decay.

As we said, the natural wonders along the North Antrim coast are aplenty. Discover them with a Celtic Tours Northern Ireland self-drive tour.


Anonymous said...

I agree about the Coastal Road. From the minute you leave Larne this is a wonderful drive all the way up to the north of the country, with plenty of places to stop and take in the views.

Just make sure you are the passenger so you can take your eyes off the road!

Sheila Gage said...

My favorite excursion in Ireland was to Northern Ireland. I have almost those same exact photos! Well, minus the photography expertise. Definitely a MUST GO for anyone. Excellent and informative post!

Networked Blogs