cycling the antrim coast
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Cycling the Antrim Coast

The Antrim Coast and Glens is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty located in Northern Ireland. The scenic route is about 100 miles (160km) depending on how many diversions you take. We finished up our tour of Ireland by spending a few days cycling the Antrim Coast to Larne, where we caught the ferry to Scotland. 

Route

Download the GPX track of the Antrim Coast.

antrim coast cycling map
Map of the Antrim Coast Scenic Route.
cycling the antrim coast
Coastal cliffs and the Mussenden Temple, built in 1785 and modeled after Rome’s Temple of Vesta.

White Rocks

The White Rocks Coastal Park is near the beginning of the Coastal Causeway, and there were many cool geological formations and arches in the white cliffs above the sea. We were there at sunset, and luckily there was a sidewalk running along the highway so we could make frequent stops to look over the cliffs. A cyclist from the area stopped to talk to us and gave us advice on where we could camp for the night.

white rocks antrim coast
Arch at the White Rocks Coastal Park.
bicycle touring antrim coast
Riding along the coastal causeway at sunset, minimal traffic.
dunluce castle
Medieval ruins of Dunluce Castle at sunset.

Giant’s Causeway

We were initially going to skip the Giant’s Causeway because it was full of tour buses, but we felt guilty since it was such a famous site, so we backtracked to go check it out. The basalt columns were neat, but a big part of the trail system was closed due to cliff instability. It was very crowded, and overall we felt like we’d seen hundreds of miles of coastline that was just as scenic.

giant's causeway
View of Giant’s Causeway from above.
giants causeway
Zoomed in view of the basalt columns.

Ballycastle to Larne

Lots more scenic coastal riding! There were carpets of bluebells blooming at this time of year, and as always lots of sheep to keep us entertained. We had great weather until our last day coming into Larne, and luckily we didn’t need to cover too many miles in the rain.

cycling the antrim coast
Beautiful cliffs and beaches.
sheep island ballintoy
Sheep Island off the coast of Ballintoy.
cycling the antrim coast
Entrance to Glenarm Castle.

Unexpected Traffic Conditions

Unbeknownst to us, we were riding the Antrim Coast during North West 200 Race Week, which is an annual motorcycle race. It seemed like we were coming through in the immediate aftermath of the big event, because there were overflowing garbage cans lining the streets and every available field in Portrush was occupied by an RV. There were tons of motorcycles and RVs on the road while we were there, and traffic was surprisingly much heavier than anywhere on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Camping Along the Antrim Coast

Wild camping was a bit challenging in Northern Ireland, because the coast was fairly populated and busy due to the motorcycle event that was happening while we were there. There is also a lot of fenced farmland, which always poses a challenge. We were still able to find places to pitch for the night, but it did require some wandering off the main thoroughfare.

wild camping northern ireland
Last campsite in Ireland, fittingly damp.
cycling northern ireland
Foggy morning on the beach.

Ferry to Scotland

We took the ferry from Larne to Cairnryan, Scotland, which took about two hours with P&O Ferries. Our whole tour around Ireland took about 6 weeks and was an unforgettable experience. It’s a wonderful country full of incredible scenery and friendly people that more than make up for the difficult weather!

cycling the antrim coast
Misty riding on our last day in Ireland.

Video from Northern Ireland

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