Rathlin Island – Short Walk

SHORT WALK – 4.5 miles. The walk will take around 3 hours.

DATE 5th August 2022.

LEADER: Robert McDowell, Telephone No 028 93373084 (land line)

07711 706022 (mobile)

MEETING POINT/TIME: At ferry departure point, Ballycastle Harbour at 10.45 am (for the 11.00 am sailing)

Outward Journey to Ballycastle:


(Note that travelling by public transport is not practicable). I am willing to take 2 people in my car. If you require a lift, please contact me.

As the distance from Belfast City Centre to Ballycastle is c55 miles, you are advised to allow up to one and a half hours for your actual journey. Take the M2 north, exiting the motorway at the junction which is signposted Antrim/Ballymena/Coleraine. Take the A26 road towards Ballymena/Coleraine and, on approaching Ballymena (at the Larne roundabout), rejoin the M2 motorway signposted Ballymoney/Coleraine. After 13 miles, take the road to Ballycastle – the A44/Drones Road. On approaching Ballycastle, follow the signs for The Seafront/Harbour and park at the ferry terminal car park (far end of public car park just beyond The Rathlin Island Ferry Company office). This car park is free for ferry travellers and there are toilets in the car park just beyond the ferry office.

Outward Journey by Ferry from Ballycastle to Rathlin Island:

I would advise you to book your outward (11.00 am) and return (3.00 pm) ferry crossings as soon as possible as the Rathlin ferry books up well in advance. Although holders of Northern Ireland smart travel passes travel free of charge, reservations are still required. Return tickets for the 11.00 am outward ferry Ballycastle to Rathlin and the 3.00 pm return ferry Rathlin to Ballycastle can be booked by the following methods: (1) On-line at www.rathlinballycastleferry.com

(2) By email to info@rathlinislandferry.com

When booking, the ferry company will require your name, a contact phone number and the date/times of both sailings, plus confirmation that you have a smart travel pass, if applicable. If you are using a smart travel pass, you will be required to quote the card number on the front of the pass. In case of any queries, you can telephone the Rathlin Island Ferry Company office at 028 20769299.

You must present yourself, along with your smart travel pass, and any relevant documentation relating to your booking, at the Rathlin Island Ferry departure point at Ballycastle Harbour at least 15 minutes before sailing time – ie by no later than 10.45 am.

If you do not have a smart travel pass, the return ferry ticket is £12.


As the Rathlin Express ferry journey takes c25 minutes, we should arrive at the harbour at Church Bay, Rathlin Island at c11.25 am. There are public toilets at Church Bay.


We will start our walk at Church Bay in the direction of Rue Point, which is the nearest point to Ballycastle at the south of the island. We will walk on a tarmac road and, for the last half-mile, on a grassy track. We will walk to Rue Point and from there we will retrace our steps to Church Bay.


You may wish to bring a packed lunch which can be eaten at the open air picnic tables at Church Bay or on the rocks at Rue Point. Alternatively, hot food/drinks are available around Church Bay from:

The Manor House Café and Restaurant

McCuaig’s Bar

The Water Shed Café

The Hungry Seal – takeaway only.

The Shop at Church Bay – takeaway only.

Toilets on Rathlin – there are toilets at Church Bay. There are also customer toilets at the first three above named establishments. Note that there are no toilet or catering facilities at Rue Point.

Return Ferry Journey from Rathlin Island to Ballycastle:

We will meet at Rathlin Island harbour at Church Bay at 2.45 pm in order to catch the 3.00 pm Spirit of Rathlin ferry to Ballycastle which should arrive in Ballycastle at c3.40 pm. You will need to retain your ticket for the return journey.


For those who want an early evening meal in Ballycastle, there is a wide choice of eating establishments. Near the harbour there is The Marine Hotel, Morton’s Fish & Chip Shop and The Promenade Café. On the way through Ballycastle, there is O’Connor’s Bar in Ann Street, The Cellar Restaurant at The Diamond and Anzac Restaurant in Market Street (turn right at the Diamond).There are also plenty of coffee shops near the harbour and in Ann Street.