Even in a country renowned for its breath-taking scenery, welcoming people and iconic locations, the Causeway Coast and Glens stand out as a unique and magnificent destination. Heralded as one of the Top 5 Road Journeys of the world, let Northern Ireland Premier Tours transport you on an intrepid voyage through the greatest journey that the fabled Emerald Isle has to offer; the Causeway Coastal Route.
Your overnight is one which will set your, rightfully lofty, expectations for the elite standards of hospitality and luxury that await you over the course of this personal and intimate touring experience. This is a night that promises style, comfort and, most importantly, excitement about your forthcoming adventure.
Awaken, rejuvenated after your revitalising night in Belfast City and enjoy a hearty breakfast; full Irish breakfasts will be available alongside continental fare, although personally we recommend the full Irish. After you have sated yourself Arthur Ward, historian, photographer and your personal guide for the trip will introduce himself.
Arthur Ward is a renowned historian whose extensive knowledge of the Causeway Coast is rivalled by none. His intense passion for his homeland is vividly evident and he is a fountain of knowledge who can impart all of the folklore, history, culture and stories of this land. Over the course of your exploits, as you meander along rugged cliff faces, pass authentic, traditional Irish villages and encounter the world famous Irish people., Art, as he is affectionately known, will weave for you a fascinating and absorbing tapestry of the vibrant lands you pass through and truly bring Ireland to life.
Preparing to depart Belfast you will now meet your driver and transport for the trip. The medium via which you will be travelling is a luxury private coach. An authentic family run Irish business itself; the coach staff are all brilliant raconteurs, fountains of knowledge about Ireland, and most importantly exquisite drivers who will serve you brilliantly over the course of your tour.
After an hour of driving you will be granted your first glimpse of the Coast as you arrive in Portrush. Granted with spectacular vista views of the Skerries Islands and to Mallon Point, the most Northernly point in Ireland. This first encounter with the Causeway Coast will serve to tantalise and is a pleasant foreshadowing of the epic sights yet to come.
Our first port of call is the ominously looming Dunluce Castle, a fascinating ruin mired in a wealth of fascinating history and intrigue. Here we will begin to weave the web of the McDonnell story which permeates these bricks as much as it does this tour. Enjoy your experience of what is possibly Ireland’s most iconic castle, with renowned, spectacular views, this will be a fantastic place for some photos of the group and a chance to explore the castle grounds while hearing some of the tales it has to offer. This will be the perfect opportunity to exploit the photography skills of your guide; Art Ward’s prodigious talents with the lens will ensure that you will leave this experience with spectacular photographs to last a lifetime.
No visit to Northern Ireland would be complete without a visit to our only UNESCO world heritage site, The Giant’s Causeway. Spend your time exploring these remarkable, unique rock formations and the stories that surround them. Art Ward will regale you with the diverse and fascinating folklore and history of this area.
The 40,000 unique and iconic black basalt columns protruding from the sea have ensured that the Giants Causeway is included on the UNESCO world heritage list, however it is the walk across the stones, the spray of the ocean and views of Scotland on the horizon that will truly bring this remarkable landmark alive as you immerse yourself in the legends and folklore of the area from a local man’s perspective.
We will then progress a few minutes along the coast to arrive at the Carrick-a-Rede Ropebridge; a top tourist attraction here in Ireland, this old swaying bridge connecting the mainland to the small fishing island of Carrick is invigorating to cross despite the fact that it is completely safe. Let Art Ward capture this moment for you perfectly as he entrances you with the history of the idyllic bridge and island that now capture your gaze.
Now we continue to hug the cliff face as we follow the winding coastline towards the beautiful coastal town of Ballycastle. Named the best place to live in the North of Ireland in 2017, the picturesque town offers stunning views of Scotland and of the small (but influential to our McDonnell story)Island of Rathlin. Here Art Ward will enthral you with the gripping and devastating tales of what happened here in the McDonnell saga before we continue our intrepid journey onwards to the Scenic Inn, and lunch.
Our next port of call is to visit Sheans Horse Farm and Riding Center, home to the dynamic Causeway Coast Discovery Center.
The Causeway Coast Discovery Centre is a 2014, 2015 and 2016 Irish Tourism Award-winning history and heritage centre. Your visit to this centre will enhance your onward journey around the beautiful Causeway Coast and bring this fascinating area to life through exciting stories and hands-on, cultural experiences unique to this beautiful area.
The visit will help you understand some of the history and the people you will encounter on the Route, while discovering the locations of our myriad of castles, glens and rugged coastlines. The McDonnell story shall be invoked to its fullest here, with vista views over 5 counties of Ireland and, notably, that of Sorely Boy McDonnell’s final battle. The vibrant, interactive experience here will touch on the meaning of the term Scots-Irish, highlighting this areas close connection with Scotland and our brethren over the water.
En route to the famed Green Glens of Antrim, you will pass through the beautiful seaside town of Ballycastle before arriving at Cushendun via the Torr Coastal Road. This detour is an extension of the Causeway Coastal Route, rated as one of the ‘Top 5 Road Journeys in the World’ and hugs rugged cliff faces of the Irish coastline while offering an unparalleled vantage point from which to view Scotland and the turbulent Irish Sea.
After lunch we will visit the absolutely stunning Glenarrife Waterfalls in the heart of, what is commonly regarded as, the most beautiful of the Green Glens of Antrim. These waterfalls are a hidden gem in our countryside and the enrapturing view of the cascading water against the glamorous backdrop of the Glens has often proved to be the highlight of many a trip to Ireland for those travellers fortunate enough to experience it first-hand.
Arrive at Glenarm Village for tour of the village and Castle grounds. Once a mighty and important port in Ireland, Glenarm now enjoys a much slower and more tranquil pace of life. The village is still home to the McDonnell family, once known as the mighty and savage McDonnell clan who ruled these lands, who inhabit the castle and surrounding estate to this day.
It is time for the lazy and relaxing return leg of your journey, we begin to venture back towards Belfast now, reminiscing over the delights that Ireland has offered so far as we savour the final leg of our travels.
Amidst the beauty of this stunning coastal drive, we shall encounter the majestic Carrickfergus Castle and discover its profound impact on the area’s history. Built in the 12th century, the castle has been a base of power for Scots, Irish, English, and French at different stages throughout history, withstanding a great many sieges and assaults during its day. Despite this tapestry of violence, the castle has remained a bastion of strength and is undoubtedly one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland. Art Ward will provide stories of its former glory that will be matched only by its current spectacular appearance.
From Carrickfergus there is not long left to Belfast so finally you may say your fond farewells to Art Ward, your Shield’s Coaches driver and the best tour of your life, prepare to depart Ireland or continue your onwards journey on the Emerald Isle.