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A Taste of Tradition

Meet the Locals:
Portia Woods

Portia Woods has lived and worked on the Antrim Coast all her life. She’s in love with the local produce and cooking traditions that have developed here, and she’s passionate about sharing them with others. That’s why she started her food tour business - Toast the Coast - leading groups on journeys of exploration to the best artisanal producers and eateries in the county. 

Toast the Coast

“I’m extremely proud of the Antrim Coast,” she says when we caught up with her for breakfast at Whitehead’s Bank House. “Toast the Coast tries to acknowledge this overlooked part of Northern Ireland’s coastline. It’s home to some of our best local artisans, crafters and tourist destinations.”

We're digging into Clandboye yoghurt, fine Irish cheeses, and boiled ham - all washed down with Armagh apple juice - care of Sinead Brennan, the proprietor. She took over a Northern Bank branch in 2013 and turned it into a bustling cafe, serving Belfast’s Bailies Hand Roasted Coffee. 

Toast the Coast offers a selection of public tours that take place twice a month and a ‘menu’ of private tours that you can enjoy a la carte at any time. We’re on Portia’s Signature Full Day Tour, mixing with a happy crowd on a luxury coach tour.

Portia Woods | Shaped by Sea and Stone

It will take us all along the sea and stone coast, stopping in at a selection of unique eateries. She also offers tours by chauffeur-driven car or she can join you on a self-driving adventure.

“Toast the Coast tries to acknowledge this overlooked part of Northern Ireland’s coastline. It’s home to some of our best local artisans, crafters and tourist destinations.”

On the Road

Next stop in Ann’s Pantry in Larne, Northern Ireland’s best bakery and an institution with over fifty years of baking for local people. Their speciality is an award-winning spelt and black pudding potato bread. Owner Helen Porter is only too happy to sit and chat over a coffee with her guests. The tour continues to Ballygally Castle’s Garden Restaurant, where the culinary team ensures quality by carefully monitoring their supply chain. Your hosts will share with you the story of each ingredient on your plate - local and seasonal foods from trusted Irish producers. You’ll have a chance to explore this unique building - a hotel built inside a 17th-century castle, haunted by a benign ghost.

Next is Glenarm Castle, where the gardens are enclosed by an ancient bawn - a defensive wall that protected Irish tower houses.

Portia Woods | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Today, a walled garden like this is a beautiful place to relax. In former times, it was a functional part of the castle. Small crops were grown here, sheltered from the elements and enjoying a slightly warmer microclimate thanks to the heat stored in the stonework. Those features are being put back to work - many of the ingredients served in the Walled Garden Tea Rooms were grown on site. Sample the Glenarm smoked salmon and locally-grown beef. 

Itineraries

Plan Your Trip

Make the most of your stay in Mid & East Antrim by selecting from one of our itineraries. Each one caters to a different interest, a different mood, and ensures you experience the very best in the region.

Hospitality Itinerary

Let’s explore the culinary landscape of Mid and East Antrim and follow the trail of one of Ireland’s Top Ten Foodie Destinations of 2018.

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Hospitality Itinerary | Shaped by Sea and Stone
Hospitality

Coast Itinerary

The Causeway Coastal Route that twists and turns along the ancient County Antrim coastline is quite simply a journey unlike any other.

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Coast Itinerary | Shaped by Sea and Stone
Coast

Wellbeing Itinerary

From atop Slemish Mountain, the vast sky stretches away into the far distance - Patchwork fields, divided by dry stone walls, and the grasslands of the Shillanavogy Valley are burnished gold by the sun.

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Wellbeing Itinerary | Shaped by Sea and Stone
Wellbeing

Heritage Itinerary

This land has a story to tell - A historic tale passed down through generations, through artefacts and ruins, through folklore and ancient writings, where etchings of the past reveal a deeper understanding.

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Heritage Itinerary | Shaped by Sea and Stone
Heritage

Towns & Villages Itinerary

To truly appreciate the splendour of Mid & East Antrim, you must walk its towns and villages - These are places that have grown up from the rolling valleys of the Glens, nourished by the ebb and flow of the sea. 

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Towns & Villages Itinerary | Shaped by Sea and Stone
Town & Villages

Game of Thrones® Itinerary

The makers of HBO’s Game of Thrones® wanted to find an ancient landscape new to the rest of the world - dramatic cliffs that give way to beautiful valleys, medieval castles towering over picturesque stone harbours.

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Game of Thrones® Itinerary | Shaped by Sea and Stone
Game Of Thrones®

48-Hour Itinerary

The idyllic area of Mid & East Antrim was not built in a day, over thousands of years, the land started to take shape - with the collision of the rough Irish Sea on the soft grassy verges and the power of mother nature, the land started to flourish.

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48-Hour Itinerary | Shaped by Sea and Stone
48 Hours