Glenariff Waterfall, County Antrim

From the County Antrim town of Larne, rugged cliffs stretch north for 80 miles, broken only by nine deep green glens, each with its own unique character.   

First stop, Ballygally, where, no surprise in a land steeped in legend, the hotel is reputed to have a (friendly) ghost.

Winding on past spectacular scenery, solve the mystery of the beech maze at Carnfunnock Country Park. Splash down at the beaches of Ballygally, Glenarm, Carnlough, Cushendall or Cushendun. The Glenarm Estate is certainly worth viewing on its open days. Not far inland is Slemish Mountain, where St. Patrick tended sheep as a young slave.

The coast road becomes even more tortuous, but the views of Scotland are worth it. Glenariff, Queen of the Glens, is fairest of them all with the wild beauty of its waterfalls and trail skirting a sheer plunging gorge, within Glenariff Forest Park.

Cushendall, capital of the Glens, is a lively centre of music, dance and craic. Next stop is Cushendun, a National Trust Preserved village, famed for its Cornish cottages.

Dare you venture further? Whichever route you take, thrills await. White-knuckle cliff road skirting remote Fair Head, or inland to Ballycastle across the mysterious 'vanishing lake'; a watery grave to coach and horses way back when.

The Glens are equally famous for their festivals, exemplified by the Heart of the Glens festival at Cushendall in August, where everyone sings and dances from morning to night, and vice-versa. Not to be outdone, Glenarm, Carnlough and Cushendun have festival weeks in July.

The Glens Translated

The names of the Glens evoke their history and features - below is the meanings of each of the glens:

Glenarm - glen of the army
Glencloy - glen of the dykes
Glenariff - glen of the plough
Glenballyemon - Edwardstown Glen
Glanaan - glen of the little fords
Glencorp - glen of the dead
Glendun - brown glen
Glenshesk - glen of the sedges (reeds)
Glentaisie - after Taisie, princess of Rathlin Island

A visit to the nine glens is a must-see on your list!