Another sunny day, cool at first. Our plan had been to ride along Islandmagee and take the ferry the short distance into Larne, but the hostel owner told us it only operates early morning and late afternoon for workers at the power station at the end. The main road alternative is busy so we opted to continue our journey by rail. We caught the 9:04 and shopped for a few things in the town before the holiday really got underway with a ride up the A2 Antrim coast road. The low number implies a busy important road but there’s a faster route inland which takes the through traffic so it was very quiet, allowing us the peace to enjoy the lovely rocky sea views. Cormorants gazed optimistically out to sea.
We paused by the famine memorial stone, commissioned by Frances Ann Vane Tempest, Marchioness of Londonderry. A contentious passage lauding the assistance from England was long ago chipped away. We passed by the ruins of Ardclinis church, believed to have been built around 1300. At Carnlough we rode under the bridge which took the long closed mineral railway to the harbour. It was constructed in 1854 to carry limestone from the local quarry to boats destined for Scotland, and you can walk along the former trackbed.
We pressed on through Cushendall and then stopped at the tea room at Cushendun. We needed the cake because the last thirteen miles were along the very hilly minor road which hugs the coast, the A2 striking a more sensible direct route to reach Ballycastle. We were rewarded with views across to the Mull of Kintyre although it was rather hazy by mid afternoon. A welcome long downhill run took us into the town, where we booked into the Castle hostel for two nights. It was formerly a B&B and still feels like one, except you don’t get breakfast and you can cook your own meals. There was a very restful lounge/dining room and a comfortable bedroom for the three of us, with a double and a single bed for £15 each.
We popped out to book tomorrow’s boat trip to Rathlin Island, opting for the 9:30 boat out and returning at 4:30.