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The Spectacular Antrim Coast & Castles

The Spectacular Antrim Coast & Castles

5 day tour visiting this beautiful area awash with rugged coastlines, picuresque glens and brooding castles


5 day tour visiting this beautiful area awash with rugged coastlines, picuresque glens and brooding castles

The Giants Causeway

For centuries the splendid sight of the Giant's Causeway's 38,000 hexagonal shaped columns of basalt has astounded visitors from all over the world. There have been many different theories and scientific arguments to explain the origins of the Causeway stones and the reasons for their unique shape and form. Mythology long ago, an Irish giant named Finn MacCool roamed the north coast, where he could look across the narrow sea of Moyle to Scotland. A Scottish giant, Benandonner, was Finn's greatest rival, challenging his strength and reputation. As the two giants had never met, Finn decided to invite Benandonner to Ireland, to engage in a decisive battle. There was no boat large enough to carry giants, so Finn built a causeway of huge stones across the water so that the Scottish giant could travel on dry land; thus he would have no excuse to avoid the confrontation.


Bushmills Distillery

Bushmills is home to the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery. Official records stretch back to 1608, when the area was granted its license to distil. Over 400 years later, whiskey is still being made in Bushmills, thanks to experience and craft passed down from generation to generation. Distilled, matured and bottled on-site, carrying on a 400 year old tradtion.



Carrickfergus sits on the north shore of Belfast Lough, 11 miles (18 km) from Belfast and is County Antrim's oldest town and one of the oldest towns in Ireland as a whole.

Carrickfergus Castle

Built by John de Courcy in 1177, for more than 800 years Carrickfergus Castle has been an imposing monument on the Northern Ireland landscape whether approached by land, sea or air. Besieged in turn by the Scots, Irish, English and French, the castle played an important military role until 1928 and remains one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland.

The castle now houses historical displays as well as cannons from the 17th to the 19th centuries.



A rich and complex history, friendly residents and live music make the Northern Ireland capital the perfect spot to visit. Comprised of several “quarters”, the Cathedral Quarter is probably the liveliest area, Queen's Quarter is home to the Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum and Titanic Quarter covering 75 hectares of reclaimed land adjacent to Belfast harbour is named after the Titanic, which was built there in 1912. A Titanic-themed museum was opened in 2012 called Titanic Belfast.


Hillsborough Castle

This beautiful late Georgian mansion was built in the 1770s by Wills Hill, first Marquis of Downshire and was later remodelled in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today, it is a working royal palace functioning as the official residence of the Royal Family when they are in Northern Ireland, and it has been the home of the Secretary of State since the 1970s. A tour of the house will guide you through the elegant State Rooms, including the majestic Throne Room and graceful State Drawing Room. Each room is unique and visitors will learn not only about the paintings, furnishings and curiosities that grace the walls and floors, but also about the historical use and significance of these rooms, which have welcomed a long list of VIPs, including the Dalai Lama, the Crown Prince of Japan, Princess Diana, Hilary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt. Some have also been host to historic meetings between British and Irish politicians, resulting in the castle playing an important role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Wander through 100 acres of beautiful gardens developed from the 1760s onwards, offering a contrast of ornamental grounds, peaceful woodland, meandering waterways, and trimmed lawns. Look out for the statue of Ossian, the striking Lady Alice’s Temple, the Quaker Burial ground and the Ice House.


The Ards Peninsula

The Ards Peninsula (from Irish: Aird Uladh, meaning 'peninsula of the Ulstermen') on the north-east coast of Ireland separates Strangford Lough from the  North Channel of the Irish Sea. Towns and villages on the peninsula include Donaghadee, Millisle, Portavogie and Portaferry. The large towns of Newtownards and Bangor are at the mainland edge of the peninsula. Burr Point is the easternmost point on the island of Ireland.



Day 1

We leave Cumbria in the morning for the journey to Cairnryan and the afternoon sailing to Belfast. We then head north to our base for the next 4 nights, the Ballygally Castle Hotel, perched on the tip of the famous Causeway Coastal Route. This stunning 17th century castle overlooks the golden sands of Ballygally Bay and has uninterrupted views across the Irish Sea. Dinner in the hotel.


Day 2

Today after breakfast we follow a route regarded as one of the finest marine drives in Europe, the Antrim Coast Road, which passes spectacular scenery centred round the nine Glens of Antrim, before arriving at the mighty Giants Causeway. Intense volcanic activity created this unique landscape of intricately shaped basalt columns, a more romantic legend is that the giant Finn MacCool laid a path across the sea to his lady-love in Scotland. A regular shuttle bus escorts visitors from the visitor centre down to the shore. Lunch can be taken here before continuing on to Bushmills to visit the oldest distillery in the world and taste the single malt blend Old Bushmills. Dinner on our return to the Ballygally Castle Hotel.

B, D

Day 3

Our first visit today is to Carrickfergus making a stop at Carrickfergus Castle, built by John de Courcy in 1177 it represents over 800 years of military might. We then head into Belfast for a guided tour of this handsome city, including such sights as the Botanical Gardens, Queen’s University and the Waterfront Hall. After some free time in Belfast we return to the hotel for dinner.

B, D

Day 4

This morning we head to the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle. After a guided tour of this elegant mansion tea and scones will be served, before free time to enjoy the stunning gardens and grounds or explore Hillsborough town itself with its Georgian architecture. After lunch we make our way south to Stangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula where winding roads, small field and white cottages create a landscape in miniature. We cross the lough by ferry and make our way back to the Ballygally Castle Hotel. Final dinner at the hotel.

B, D

Day 5

Following a leisurely breakfast, we travel the short distance to Belfast port and the late morning sailing to Cairnryan. We are due back in Cumbria early evening.


B=Breakfast Included, D=Dinner Included

Ballygally Castle Hotel

Perched on the tip of one of the world's greatest road journeys, the Causeway Coastal Route, sits a 17th century castle. Ballygally Castle. Overlooking the golden sands of Ballygally Bay towards Scotland, and just a stone's throw from the 9 Glens of Antrim and then on to the Giant's Causeway.

A stay here is a journey in more ways than one. Because it's the perfect base for exploring the stunning Antrim Coast

If you're going to stay in a castle you want it to feel like a castle. You want to soak up the atmosphere, get a sense of the period, admire the architecture and even feel a little spooked.

All 44 bedrooms combine tasteful contemporary décor with the character of the building. The original period rooms have been sympathetically and cleverly updated to retain the enchanting charm of the original castle. The beautiful Antrim Suite offers stunning panoramic sea views over the Bay whilst the Garden Suite in the new wing enjoys an outlook of the castle grounds and trout stream. And for those who are feeling brave? Check out the 'ghost room', in one of the castle's turrets. The ghost of Lady Isabella Shaw, the former lady of the castle, might just be there to welcome you!

Set within the original 17th Century walls, The Garden Restaurant serves up a range of delicious bistro and table d'hote menus for lunch or dinner, featuring many dishes made using the finest local produce. Stop by for Sunday Lunch in the magnificent River Room. Traditional roasts, contemporary fayre, family catch-ups and stunning views across the bay and beyond to Scotland make it a special place to be. Not forgetting Afternoon Tea, a pastry and cake-fest for the palette.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Name Address Contact Details
Appleby The Sands Appleby
Aspatria Car Park beside Spar Aspatria
Brough Monument Bus Shelter Brough
Carlisle Entrance to Sands Centre Car Park Carlisle
Cockermouth Monument Main Street Cockermouth
Dearham Commercial Corner Dearham
Distington Outside Prospect Works Distington
Egremont Conservative Club Egremont
Flimby Railway Station Flimby
Harrington Galloping Horse bus stop Harrington
High Hesket Palmerstons Furniture Store
Keswick Bell Close Car Park Keswick
Kirkby Stephen Market Square Kirkby Stephen
Maryport Outside Coop Maryport
Penrith Sandgate Bus Station Penrith
Thursby Bus Stop Thursby
Waverton Bus Stop Waverton
Whitehaven Bus Stop Tangier Street Whitehaven
Wigton Old Bus Station Wigton
Workington Lay By opposite Grahams Travel Jane St. Workington
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10 Oct 2022 £649.00 Loading
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