A few miles off Ballymena, Glenariff is one of the nine Antrim Glens, also known as the Queen of the Glens. You can get there following the A43 – Ballymena to Waterfoot – road. Glenariff Forest Park covers over 1,000 hectares with planted woodland, lakes, outdoor recreation spaces and conservation areas. The area offers several trails, a site for camping, shelters, restaurants and cafés. It is the ideal place to spend the day hiking, beside offering wonderful views over the hills, the woods, and dramatic openings over the seaside. Parking costs 5 pounds for the day for cars, just at the start of the trails.
This path features a series of waterfalls that you can admire walking through stairways, pathways cut into the near vertical sides of the gorge and boardwalks on stilts in the river. It is a spectacular walk amid ferns, mosses and liverworts, with several rare species present. The Waterfall trail is about 2-mile long, with steep parts.
I’ve had an eye on this walk for a long time… This morning, we left home early and we reached Glenariff Nature Reserve at around 8AM – it took us one hour to get there from Belfast. The sky was covered with some clearings of blue sky, so we took the chance. And we were lucky… It was very windy at the beginning of the path, but as we descended into the gorge we walked almost all the way protected. More than that, the sun came out and offered some wonderful views over the surrounding hills. From the trail, we could see the clouds moving fast high above us, and it was an entertaining view itself.
At the end of the trail, we stopped at the café close to the parking lot and we enjoyed soy milk cappuccinos with a freshly baked raspberry scone and a chocolate chip muffin on the terrasse. We also had the chance to have an enjoyable chat with the owners of the cafés just before the buses started to arrive and to release their loads of hikers in the parking lot. It was a real privilege to relax surrounded by such an incredible panorama… just before the clouds gathered again and it started raining. Our timing for perfect and the place is a real must for hikers and nature lovers.