Autumn and winter on the North Antrim coast
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The intimacy of antique woods, the vast bleakness of the cliff edge and the human eccentricity of Mussenden Temple combine on the north coast of Ireland this autumn and winter.
Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House
Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the stunning Downhill Demesne with its beautiful sheltered gardens and cliff walks. Visit the apple orchard in the walled garden and the beautiful 18th-century folly, Mussenden Temple, originally inspired by the Tivoli Temple of Vesta. Follow the trail, 3 miles (2.2km), to discover a relict arboretum with many rare tree species, the majestic ruins of Downhill House, the Walled Garden and Mussenden Temple perched on the cliff edge. From here you can enjoy dramatic views of the Inishowen Peninsula.
Portstewart Strand: Sand dune and estuary trail
Many walkers and families enjoy the two miles of magnificent golden sands at Portstewart Strand. Fewer people are aware of the waymarked trail, 3.6 miles (5.8km), at the top of the sand ladder that meanders through 6,000 year old dunes to the river edge at the Bann Estuary. It’s a different world – the serenity of the estuary habitats for shelducks, lapwings and wintering wildfowl, a wonderful contrast to the wind and waves of the open beach. There are stunning vistas of the Barmouth where the River Bann enters the Atlantic and the headlands of Donegal in the distance. Keep an eye out for porpoises and seabirds.
There are four stunning trails at the Giant’s Causeway. Recently upgraded, all are colour coded and awash with breathtaking views of jagged cliffs and bays lashed by wind and waves. There’s a trail to suit every ability, from a pram-friendly jaunt to a challenging coastal hike.
Green trail: See the Giant’s Causeway from a different viewpoint, 0.4 miles (700m).
Blue trail: Look out for the Camel, Giant’s Granny, the Causeway and Giant’s Boot – there’s so much to see, 0.8 miles (1.2km).
Red trail: A panoramic view of the Giant’s Causeway and wider World Heritage Site, 1.8 miles (3km).
Yellow trail: A challenging trail for the more experienced walker. This trail interlinks with the Causeway Coast Way and the Ulster Way. These waymarked routes will take you beyond the National Trust site.
For further information on local walks visit www.walkni.com