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Ballycastle to Waterfoot
1 day paddle around Fair Head and Torr Head. Care should be taken negotiating the fierce tidal races arounds these promontories.
|16 nautical miles|
|OSNI Discoverer Map Series 1:50,000 Sheet 5|
|Ballycastle Harbour - D121414|
|Waterfoot - D244270|
Points of Interest
Ballycastle Harbour, Fair Head, Torr Head, Cushendun, Cushendall and Waterfoot.
Ballycastle has a busy marina and harbour with a regular a regular ferry service to Rathlin Island. Canoeists should stay clear of the ferry slip and marina entrance and use the
public slip closest to the marina only after contacting the Harbour Master. The huge profile of Fair Head (190 metres, just over 600 feet) with its massive boulder field below
dominates this eastern corner. Layers of sandstone below the dark dolerite (a hard basalt beloved by rock climbers) glow warm in the evening sun, and the carboniferous rocks in this area are riddled with the adits of old coal and iron ore mines. The level site of the workings at Carrickmore feature a kelp oven, boat slip and winch. The screams of
peregrine falcons may be heard nearby.
The impressive dolerite escarpment of Fair Head is bisected by the legendary Grey Man’s Path capped by a lintel of columnar basalt. Take care negotiating the fierce tide races
around Fair Head and Torr Head. Between these two promontories is the wooded and geologically varied Murlough Bay, with its remote cottage (private) set by another old fishing site. The harbour and slip at Torr offer
welcome shelter and the opportunity to rest having rounded the spectacular headlands.
Cliffs give way to steep sheep-grazed slopes from Torr Head south to Cushendun. The narrow channel between Torr and the Mull of Kintyre opposite is worth watching for porpoise and minke whale. The only surviving salmon bag nets are fished in summer at Torr Head and Cushendun. The latter’s distinctive architecture was the creation of
Welshman Clough Williams Ellis and most of the village is owned by the National Trust.
Ancient river cobbles known as the “puddingstones” can be seen in the cliffs near Cave House south of Cushendun.
Moorlands and sheep pastures lie above the rugged shore on the way to Cushendall. Continuing south, the sandstones of Red Bay come into view. Your journey ends (or begins!) at the beach of Waterfoot, welcomed by the magnificent glacial valley of Glenariff, one of the nine Glens of Antrim.
Getting to the Start
Ballycastle Harbour & Marina is located off the B15/North Street in Ballycastle.