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Dunseverick to Ballycastle

1 day paddle passing by or under Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

County
Antrim
Distance
7 Nautical Miles
Days
1
Nearest Town
Portrush
Route Shape
Linear
Grade
-
OS Map
OSNI Discoverer Map Series 1:50,000 Sheet 5
Access Point
Dunserverick Harbour - C000445
Egress Point
Ballycastle - D121414

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Points of Interest

Portbradden, Whitepark Bay, Ballintoy Harbour, Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, Ballycastle.

Itinerary

Rock stacks, small bays and banks of seaweed washed up typify the coast to Whitepark Bay. From the eighteenth
century to the 1930s, this was a busy shore, the white smoke of kelp burners marking small kilns where the dried seaweed was melted down to produce kelp, rich in useful salts.


The pier at Portbraddan (Port of the Salmon) is private, with the smallest church in Ireland tucked in at the south end of the white and blue Millhouse. Otters occasionally visit the
shore below the holiday homes.


Whitepark Bay, with surf and tide rips, is dominated by chalk and is noted for its archaeological sites, including a Stone Age settlement where excavations revealed food
remains such as the bones of the now extinct great auk. Exposed beds of soft lias clay contain fossils, such as the gryphae “Devil’s toenails”, an ancient bivalve shell.


Major geological faulting created the tilted rock stacks on the approach to Ballintoy Harbour. This picturesque haven with its lime kilns was once a lively place where burnt lime
was exported and fishing boats were busy. Note the extraordinary structure of Bendoo House on a corner above the harbour, where Cornish artist Newton Penprase (died 1978) laboured single-handed for forty years to create an eccentric home.


Beyond the harbour there is a sand bank that breaks in heavy swell with a strong tide race in the bay and on the seaward side of Sheep Island. A partial reef between the island and the former chalk quarry of Larrybane is best
passed through the gap close to the sea stack. A spectacular stalactite cave can be found midway along the limestone shore leading to the tiny archipelago of Carrick-a-Rede and its famous rope bridge.


Today, tourists can be thrilled or scared crossing the bridge, once used by salmon fishermen whose cottage remains tucked under the eastern cliff. Breeding razorbill, guillemot, kittiwake and fulmar are noisy as you pass their colonies and, given enough water, kayak under the bridge.


A magnificent cave opens past the east side of the islands, and a little further on is the amazing chasm known as the Giant’s Cut. At the chalk headland of Kinbane with its ruined castle and abandoned fishery it is possible to kayak through a tunnel in the headland at certain states of the tide. Beware of the reef and swirl around Carrickmannon Rock, where Ireland’s Neptune Manannán mac Lir and his horse Enbar ruled the waves. A short paddle past the hidden wood of Portnakillew, a regular haunt for buzzards, takes you to a section of fine cliffs and caves finishing in
Ballycastle Harbour.

Getting to the Start

From Portrush take the A2/Bushmills Road east from Portrush. Continue along the A2 through Bushmills. Continue to follow the A2 and eventually turn left onto the B147/Causeway Road. Take the last road on the left close to the coastline before the B147 rejoins the A2.

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