A rare place, wild, beautiful and of extraordinary natural value and social interest. L-shaped Rathlin lies 6 miles northeast of Ballycastle and the Antrim Coast and 16 miles from the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. Because of Rathlin’ s strategic position in the turbulent waters between Scotland and Ireland it has been the scene of a remarkable number of historical events. Three lighthouses stand as monuments to its wild coast while over 40 recorded shipwrecks lie in the depths of underwater cliffs.
On this relatively small Island, 8 miles long by 1 mile wide, you will find wildlife everywhere, beautiful cliffs, layers of basalt on limestone and a variety of wild flowers. The main seabird colony at West Lighthouse supports over 90,000 guillemots, as well as thousands of fulmars, kittiwakes, razorbills and puffins.
Our accommodation for the tour will be in the Manor House overlooking Church Bay.
Day 1 Transfer to Rathlin Island
Depart Wicklow early on Friday morning; pickup points and time will be confirmed 2 weeks before departure.
We need to be in Ballycastle Co. Antrim before 1800hrs where we have to leave our bus behind in the carpark, as only local vehicles are allowed on the Island. We take the 1830 ferry to the island; travelling time across is approximately 45min.
The Manor House is situated 100mtrs from the ferry port. After settling into your room you will have the choice of a short walk along part of the bay or simply relax in the quaint Manor House Bar, bed whenever.
Day 2The East Light House
After having a hearty relaxing breakfast we will leave at approximately 10am the Manor to do a walk to Rue Point, the South Lighthouse. The trail takes us out of the village along by Church Bay passing the new heritage centre and the old Kelp Factory. There was a lively trade in kelp in the 18th century. Seaweed was collected and put into stone kilns and burned until it turned into a “boiling mass”. Kelp was used to produce soda and iodine. On our onward journey we pass two small lakes (Craigmacagan and Ushet), a popular breeding place for wild ducks, Canadian geese and other waterfowl.
From here we take a short descent to Doon Bay, this was originally the main fishing port, also used by smugglers who traded tobacco and spirits between Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. A gentle walk takes us around Rue Point lighthouse and back to the Manor House. If we have time left in the afternoon we have the option to take a short walk to the East Lighthouse and have a look at the cliffs where Robert the Bruce sheltered.
Day 3West Lighthouse & Kebble Nature Reserve
After breakfast our walk takes us to the Western side of the Island alongside the harbour. A short steep climb takes us along a narrow country road, passing the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church to reach a memorial plaque commemorating the 500 Islanders who emigrated from here during the great Famine. On our way West we will have great views to the South across Church Bay, Rue Point and out to the cliffs of Fair Head on the mainland. Once we reach the West Lighthouse we can take the steps down to the observation deck that overlooks the bird stacks and cliffs.
A volunteer from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is normally on hand to answer questions, sell books and gift items, and keep the free telescopes aimed at nesting birds. Our return journey takes us along the coast passed a series of hexagonal basalt columns and wildflowers to Kinramer Wood, where there are great views across Lough Nanskin and Lack Point and back to Church Bay.
At 15:30 hrs we take the ferry back to Ballycastle to pick up our bus to begin our homeward journey. On the way to Dublin we will stop off in the town of Antrim for our evening meal. Home whenever.
3 Day Tour – Tour Dates 2014 Fri 4th – Sun 6th April
Tour grade 1 – Easy
What’s included in your tour:
What’s included in your tour: 2 nights B&B. Full transport from Wicklow / Dublin to Ballycastle return Ferry to and from Rathlin Island. 2 packed lunches & 2 guided walks
What’s not Included:
Rathlin Island bird sanctuary & seal colony
Peace and tranquility
About Footfalls Walking Holidays
Footfalls Walking Holidays was founded in 1994 by Christopher and Teresa Stacey. We wanted to share our love and interest in the great outdoors with others so we started guiding individuals and groups in the Wicklow Mountains.
Before long we were getting requests from our customers to see more of Ireland than just Wicklow and also do self-guided tours. Today we have expanded to where we are offering guided and self-guided tours to almost every corner of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Lake District. Despite out growth almost all of our tours are guided by us, Christopher and Teresa, to guarantee that personal touch.