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Wellbeing Itinerary

A Spiritual Journey

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. The Scottish coastline hovers on the eastern horizon, the Antrim Hills roll across the north, shimmering Lough Neagh fills the western lowlands. St Patrick stood here 1500 years ago and these same views inspired his spiritual journey.

When you’re overloaded by the pressures of life and your world seems to offer no escape – try ours. Had enough of urgent deadlines? Rushing to meetings? Rushing home? Just rushing? Here’s our solution.

Sit on a rock watching the thunderous beauty of a waterfall cascading into a forest clearing. Wander a 200-year-old walled garden, famous for its unusual plants. Try a hot stone massage, relax in a hot tub and watch a river roll by from one of Europe’s most luxurious spas.

Here’s our guide to the highlights of a soul journey through Mid & East Antrim. Experience them at your leisure.

Highlights

  • A windswept hillside under rearing cliffs that was featured in a host of Game of Thrones’® most memorable scenes.
     
  • The remains of a Bronze Age fort perched atop a soaring headland.
     
  • The mountain where St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, received his calling.

Travel time

If you were to visit all the stops on this itinerary, you’d be driving for a total of:

  • 2 hours
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Glenoe Waterfall

Allow 1 hour

Prepare yourself with a hearty breakfast in historic Carrickfergus and then set out through the beautiful countryside to Glenoe.

This quaint village – a clutch of whitewashed houses gathered around a stream – retains the rustic charm it acquired in a pre-industrial age.

Take the short walk from the main street into a wooded ravine.

Here the stream cascades over Glenoe Waterfall – a place so precious that it is protected by the National Trust.

Glenoe Waterfall | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Cairncastle

Allow 1 hour

Drive eight miles through the hedgerows, across the fields towards the coast. Here, you’ll find the rugged beauty of Cairncastle, a rampart of cliffs and grassy uplands overlooking the north channel and distant Scotland. This is an ancient place, where an early fort once stood.

It has been a regular location for Game of Thrones® filming – this is where Ned Stark beheaded a deserter from the Night’s Watch, where the Lord Baelish convinces Sansa Stark to marry Ramsay Bolton, and where Daenerys is found by the Dothraki horde after fleeing Meereen on Drogon’s back. Even if that last sentence made no sense to you, the bottom line is this – Cairncastle is a breathtaking place. 

Cairncaste | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Knockdhu

Allow 2 ½ hours

About a mile west of Cairncastle is Knockdhu, the Black Hill, where you’ll discover a Bronze Age fort, some 4000 years old, carved into a towering headland overlooking the Antrim Coast. This enigmatic place was excavated by Channel 4’s Time Team in 2009. Their investigation led them to believe that this was once a town of some thirty or forty roundhouses, protected by a ditch and earthwork wall, perhaps topped with a palisade. Here, up to one hundred and fifty people once lived. At the foot of the hill is a flint mine, and the people who lived here traded this commodity with communities in Scotland, plying the sea in outrigger canoes with the same confidence that we take to the motorway in cars.  Wear sensible shoes and dress in layers. The wind can be strong and the weather changeable up here.  

Knockdhu | Shaped by Sea and Stone
This is where Ned Stark beheaded a deserter from the Night’s Watch, where the Lord Baelish convinces Sansa Stark to marry Ramsay Bolton, and where Daenerys is found by the Dothraki horde after fleeing Meereen on Drogon’s back.

Carnfunnock Country Park

Allow 2 hours

Drop into Carnfunnock Country Park for fun with the family. Let those restless kids loose in the hedge maze.

Best your rivals at giant chess. Cook a barbecue on one of the public grills or enjoy great food in the café.

While you’re planning, why not get in touch with Paul Moore at the Northern Ireland Survival School?

He can show you how to get by if you’re lost in the wild while enjoying the natural beauty of this special place.

 

Carnfunnock | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Ballygally Castle

Allow 1½ hours

Visit nearby Ballygally Castle, a luxury hotel fashioned from a 400-year-old baronial castle.

Legend has it that its rooms are haunted by the ghost of its founder’s wife, Lady Isabella Shaw.

Stop for a traditional afternoon tea, or take to the sea for surfing or paddle boarding.

Ballygally Castle | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Glenarm Castle

Allow 1½ hours

Take the coast road north, where the fields roll down into the translucent waters of the Irish Sea.

You’ll find Glenarm nestled into a narrow bay, its castle and church rising above the coloured houses.

Glenarm Castle was built four hundred years ago, during the conflicts between the McDonnel and McQuillan clans, and stands at the heart of one of Northern Ireland’s oldest estates.

Today, the ornamental walled garden is a beautiful place to take tea and sample delicious local produce – organic beef, salmon, bread, cakes and scones.

Glenarm Castle | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Broughshane

Allow 1 ½ hours

Turn inland on the A42 and drive the fourteen miles through rolling green countryside to the village of Broughshane.

This delightful little village was awarded Channel 4’s UK Village of the Year, 2018.

Raceview Mill is a lovingly-restored textile mill, first built in the 19th century.

Today it hosts galleries, artisanal food, and health and beauty shops. It’s also the beginning of the Butterfly Path, that winds through a nature reserve on the banks of the River Braid.

Broughshane | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Slemish Mountain

Allow 2 hours

Broughshane stands in the shadow of soaring Slemish Mountain, the centrepiece of this spiritual journey. Its dramatic peak was forged in a volcanic eruption millions of years ago.

In the 400s, a young slave was forced to shepherd a flock on its slopes. That boy later became St Patrick, and it was here – during his captivity – that he drew close to God.

The walk to the summit is only 1.2 miles long, but you’ll want to stop and enjoy the views. Irish hares make their homes in the grass. Ravens and buzzards wheel overhead.

The fields of the Shillanavogy Valley roll away to the Antrim coast.

Slemish Mountain | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Galgorm Resort & Spa

Stay the night

You’ll be physically tired and spiritually refreshed after a day as full as this one. It’s time to experience some comfort at the Galgorm Resort & Spa.

Stay the night in opulent rooms, luxuriate in blissful treatments, indulge in fine cuisine.

You deserve it.

Galgorm | Shaped by Sea and Stone
Editorials
Editorials

Glenarm Castle

Glenarm Castle

Medieval conflicts of the Glens and Causeway Coast, giving way to an 18th-century elegance that transformed this achingly beautiful site into one of the treasures of Northern Ireland.

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Glenarm Castle | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Bushcraft at Carnfunnock Country Park

Bushcraft at Carnfunnock Country Park

Go back to basics of Paul Moore to learn bushcraft and wilderness living skills to match each season and embrace your inner Bear Grylls.

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Carnfunnock | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Galgorm Resort & Spa

Galgorm Resort & Spa

Set amidst woodland on the banks of the plunging River Maine, Galgorm Resort & Spa, is a part of our heritage, part of our natural world, but just on a higher plane of indulgence! This internationally renowned spa hotel welcomes guests to wander its 163 acres, relax in wood-fired hot tubs overlooking the river or in tranquil garden settings. 

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Galgorm | Shaped by Sea and Stone

A Taste of Tradition

A Taste of Tradition

'Toast the Coast' with Portia Woods and enjoy a taste of tradition on a fabulous foodie tour where you will enjoy some of the finest produce Northern Ireland and Mid & East Antrim has to offer.

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A Taste of Tradition | Shaped by Sea and Stone

Don’t just stay. Experience

Don’t just stay. Experience

Lighthouse keepers’ houses, 19th-century follies and haunted hotels. It’s only natural that this unique part of the world has some unique places to stay.

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Quirky Lodgings
Don’t just stay. Experience | Shaped by Sea and Stone
Itineraries

Other Itinerary's

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.

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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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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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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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
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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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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 Hours