This is a linear walk through forests and along the isolated Glenshesk to the pleasant seaside town of Ballycastle.
Starting at Breen Forest the walk descends to follow the Glenshesk River before climbing out of the valley and skirting around Knocklayd Mountain. A road stretch leads to Ballycastle Forest Park where the path descends through the trees to the town of Ballycastle and finishing at the harbour.
The walk follows the Moyle Way for the most part, as well as the Ulster Way. The route is clearly waymarked with wooden direction posts, signs and logos so route finding should be relatively straightforward.
You experience a real sense of isolation walking through Breen Forest and the beautiful Glenshesk. There are also good views to be had looking across the Moyle Sea to Rathlin Island. Look out for the native red squirrel when walking through Ballycastle Forest Park.
The only sections of the walk today where you might encounter traffic are the road section to Ballycastle Forest and arriving into Ballycastle. The few climbs and descents are not particularly steep but can be tricky in wet weather. Watch out for tree roots on the beginning of the walk in Breen Wood.
The small town of Ballycastle has a number of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars where you can stock up with food and drink. There are also supermarkets, banks and cash machines, pharmacies and a tourist information centre at the harbour. Most of the amenities are actually in the town centre although there are a few in the harbour area. There are no opportunities for refreshment on today’s walk so you will need to carry everything you require.
Points of Interest
Glenshshesk is one of the nine Glens of Antrim. Shaped by glaciers during the last Ice Age it lies on the eastern side of Knocklayde Mountain.
Situated just off the Moyle Way the location of the grave is marked by an inscribed post. Access to it is along the opposite bank and marked by a head stone. Tradition has it that it marks the spot where the chief of the McQuillan’s fell at the battle of Aura.
Breen Wood Nature Reserve.
At one time oak woods covered much of north east Antrim. Today Breen Oakwood Nature Reserve is one of the last fragments of these once extensive native woodlands.
Ballycastle Forest Park.
Situated on slopes of Knocklayd Mountain the forest was first planted in 1931. The Moyle way, forming part of the Ulster Way runs through the forest. The managed woodland produces a diverse range of wildlife habitats and is home to the native red squirrel.
Good boots or walking shoes are recommended as the terrain is variable on this walk. The first part can be wet and boggy so be prepared- gaiters and an extra pair of socks to be on the safe side. Walking poles can be carried if you prefer.
Irish weather can be unpredictable and also wet so it is important to be prepared at all times. Waterproofs should be carried as well as a hat and gloves and maybe an extra layer just in case. In the summer sunscreen is also recommended and maybe insect repellent.