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The 9 Glens Of Antrim: What They’re All About + The Best Stops

The 9 Glens Of Antrim: What They’re All About + The Best Stops

The 9 Glens of Antrim are an area of outstanding natural beauty that stretches along the northeastern coast of County Antrim.

Steeped in myth and boasting historical significance and breathtaking scenery, the Antrim Glens are easily explored while driving the Causeway Coastal Route.

There are 9 glens – Glentaisie, Glenshesk, Glendun, Glanaan, Glenballyeamon, Glencorp, Glenariff, Glencloy and Glenarm. Learn all about them below.

Some quick need-to-knows about the 9 Glens Of Antrim

three of the antrim glens

Photos via Shutterstock


A visit to the Antrim Glens is straightforward, once you know what area they cover and what there is to do in each corner. Here are some handy need-to-knows:

1. What is a ‘Glen’

A ‘Glen’ is a a valley. It tends to be one that’s long with gently sloped concave sides (see the map below for examples).

2. Location

You’ll find the 9 Glens of Antrim along the Causeway Coast. The ‘main’ Glen towns are Ballycastle, Cushendall, Cushendun, Glenarm, Carnlough, and Waterfoot. 

3. The 9 Glens

There 9 Antrim Glens are Glentaisie, Glenshesk, Glendun, Glanaan, Glenballyeamon, Glencorp, Glenariff, Glencloy and Glenarm. As a whole, they are home to some of the most beautiful places to visit in Northern Ireland, like Glenariff Forest Park.


An overview of each of the Antrim Glens

Take 20 seconds to have a look at the map of the Glens of Antrim above as it’ll give you a lay-of-the-land nice and quickly.

As you can see, each Glen is fairly easy to spot when we enter 3D mode on the map.


1. Glenarm

Glenarm Castle

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Also known as ‘the valley of the army’, Glenarm is the southernmost of the 9 Glens of Antrim. You’ll find the village of Glenarm where the valley meets the ocean, which is where the majestic Glenarm Castle and Gardens stands.

The valley features woodlands in the shape of Glenarm Forest Park, which is home to a variety of walking trails – the wooded riverside walk is a popular trail and it’s just 5 minutes from the centre of the village.

A number of ancient sites can also be found in this glen, with evidence of habitation dating back to around 500 AD. There’s plenty of hotels in Ballymena, nearby, if you fancy staying.


2. Glencloy


By Ballygally View Images on Shutterstock

Known as ‘The Valley of the Sword’ or ‘The Valley of the Hedges’, Glencloy is one of the largest Glens in Antrim.

The stone ditches found here (some on Garron Mountain) date to the Bronze Age.

In more recent history, the limestone cliffs that surrounded the glen have been the source of a bustling mineral industry, giving birth to the village of Carnlough, which is located at the outflow of the valley.

There are some fantastic walks in this Glen, with trails taking in relics of the ancient and more recent past. In addition, both Cranny Falls and Doonan Waterfall are worth a visit.


3. Glenariff


Photo by MMacKillop on Shutterstock

Known as the ‘Arable valley’ or the ‘Valley of the ploughman’, Glenariff is the largest of the 9 Antrim Glens.

It’s among the most popular to visit and has earned the nickname, the ‘Queen of the Glens’, due to its natural beauty.

Lying at the foot of the glen, the village of Waterfoot makes a great base for exploring the many walking trails in Glenariff Forest.


4. Glencorp

Known as the ‘Valley of the body’, Glencorp boasts sublime scenery, with mountains to one side and rumbling hillocks to the other.

The Causeway Coastal Route passes through the entire length of the Glen, so it’s an easy one to add to your coast-road-itinerary.

Rolling farmlands bordered by dense woodland are characteristic of Glencorp, which eventually rolls into the ocean at Cushendall Bay.


5. Glenballyeamon


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Known as ‘Eomon’s Valley’, Glenballyeamon offers up some spectacular views of Trostan Mountain, which makes a large part of the Glen.

Farmland stretches up the mountainside before the soil turns to rock and the slope ascends sharply up.

The charming village of Cushendall is located at the mouth of the valley, and if you follow the river back into the valley you’ll come across a number of waterfalls.

At the top of the Glen, the derelict railway station of ‘Retreat’ slowly crumbles into the earth, a relic of the area’s mining industry.


6. Glenaan


Alternatively known as the ‘Valley of the colt’s foot’ or the ‘Valley of the burial chamber’, Glanaan is steeped in myth.

Ancient roots spread throughout the glen, touching the tip of Aghan Mountain and sweeping down to the ocean.

Glanaan’s most famous site is Oisin’s Grave – a neolithic court cairn believed to mark the burial site of Fionn mac Cumhaill’s son.


7. Glendun 


By Ballygally View Images on Shutterstock

The next of the Antrim Glens is known as the ‘Valley of the brown river’ or the ‘Glen of the river Dun’, Glendun offers very varied scenery.

The Glen sweeps down from the tundra-like slopes of Slieveanorra mountain, passing through lush forest, all the way to the village of Cushendun.

Steep mountains surround the valley, though a small but scenic road runs through the entire glen.

The road takes in the iconic Glendun Viaduct which towers above the glen road and river alike.


8. Glenshesk


By Ballygally View Images on Shutterstock

Known as ‘The barren glen’ or the ‘Valley of the rushes’, Glenshesk is characterised by steep, mountainous slopes and outstanding views.

A scenic high road takes you along the entire length of the valley, offering incredible views over Rathlin Island.

The glen flows out at Ballycastle and is awash with historic sights as well as natural beauty.

Amid the woodlands and farmlands, you’ll come across the ruins of the 15th-century Friary of Bonamargie, ancient churches, and ruined stone cottages.

A hotbed of battle throughout the centuries, an array of standing stones mark the graves of countless fallen warriors from the past.


9. Glentaisie


By Ballygally View Images on Shutterstock

Named after the fair Tasie, daughter of Rathlin’s King Dorm, Glentaisie is where Taisie and her newly wedded husband Congal, heir to the Kingdom of Ireland, were believed to have lived after the marriage.

The glen is filled with ancient monuments, including what is believed to be the remains of the very fort the legendary couple lived in.

Situated at the foot of Knocklayde Mountain, the glen enjoys numerous beautiful sites that are a joy to ramble around. At the other end of the glen, you’ll find the town of Ballycastle.


Things to do in the Antrim Glens

There’s plenty to see and do in the green Glens of Antrim, from waterfalls and walks to scenic drives, coastal villages and beaches.

Below, you’ll find everything from the mighty Slemish Mountain Walk to a couple of our favourite Glens of Antrim Walks.

1. Glenariff Forest Park

Glenariff Forest

Photos via Shutterstock

Situated in the ‘Queen of the Glens’, Glenariff Forest Park sprawls out over more than 1,000 hectares.

There are several marked walking trails to explore, varying in length and difficulty and offering something for everyone.

Waterfalls and riverside grottos abound, and when you need refreshments, there’s even a tea house.


2. Slemish Mountain

Slemish Mountain

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Next up is one of our favourite Glens of Antrim walks! The mighty Slemish Mountain juts up from its gentle surroundings, inviting hikers to tackle its craggy slopes.

At 1,500 feet (437 metres) tall, the mountain is challenging but accessible. St. Patrick was brought to Ireland as a slave and toiled on the slopes of Slemish for 6-years as a shepherd.

Here he discovered prayer and in a vision was encouraged to escape and return home, where he would become a priest.

Nowadays, you can follow in his footsteps and make the climb yourself, taking a 1.5 km round-walk to the summit.


3. Carnfunnock Country park

Carnfunnock Country Park

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Offering fun for the entire family, Carnfunnock Country Park comprises mixed woodland, a stunning coastline, and various gardens to explore.

The walled garden, with its carefully selected floral displays, stone sundials, and wooden sculptures, is one of the park’s stand-out features.

There are plenty of activities to enjoy as well, including a maze, crazy golf, a driving range, a kids’ playground, and a number of marked walking trails.


4. The Moyle Way


Photo by MMacKillop on Shutterstock

The Moyle Way is a marked walking route that takes in 5 of the 9 Antrim Glens. Starting near Ballycastle, the route follows forest trails and mountain slopes.

This is a tough, 2-day walk that offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the scenery of the northernmost glens.

Expect waterfalls, wildlife, and woodland ecosystems. The going can get tough and some of the paths are boggy.


5. Ballycastle


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The seaside town of Ballycastle sits at the foot of Knocklayde Mountain.

Both Glentaisie and Glenshesk spill into the ocean here, making it an ideal base to explore from.

There’s plenty of things to do in Ballycastle, with Kinbane Castle close by and a variety of pubs, restaurants and, of course, Ballycastle Beach.


6. Glenarm Castle

Glenarm Castle

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A focal point of Glenarm, the southernmost glen, Glenarm Castle is an popular attraction that was the ancestral home of the McDonnell Clan.

A guided tour of the castle takes in dining rooms, suites, drawing rooms, and the immense castle hall.

Along the way, your guide – the castle’s butler – will recall stories and detail the history of the castle.

The castle grounds are just as impressive as the inside, with a spectacular walled garden and walking trails.


7. Carnlough


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The charming village of Carnlough is located at the foothills of Glencloy. It’s famed for its beautiful harbour from which small fishing vessels and pleasure boats set out to sea.

The harbour was also one of several Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland, and was used in several scenes in the show.

A fantastic base for exploring Glencloy, it’s worth spending a bit of time in the village too.


8. Cranny Falls

Cranny Falls

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Cranny Falls are one of the lesser-known waterfalls in this part of Ireland. You reach them via a well-sign-posted trail that leaves from Carnlough Harbour.

The trail is 1.2 miles (2km) long and it’ll take you along a disused railway track. Over the course of the 1 – 1.5 hour walk, you’ll ramble through woodland and alongside rivers.

There are several viewpoints along the way that’ll give you an eyeful of Carnlough and beyond.


9. Cushendall


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The little seaside village of Cushendall is full of olde-worlde charm and it’s a great place to explore Antrim from.

It sits at the meeting point of 3 of the Glens; Glenaan, Glenballyeamon, and Glencorp.

There are several attractions and things to see in and around the village, including the Curfew Tower, Oisin’s Grave, and Red Bay Castle.


10. Cushendun

Cushendun Caves

Photos via Shutterstock

Sitting in the heart of the 9 Glens of Antrim, Cushendun is another seaside village, located at the mouth of Glendun.

The buildings stand against a backdrop of rolling hills, craggy cliffs, and a slowly meandering river.

Make sure to visit Cushendun Beach and the Cushendun Caves.


11. Glendun viaduct


By Ballygally View Images on Shutterstock

Known as ‘The big bridge’ by locals, Glendun Viaduct is a masterpiece of engineering.

Three archways tower above the River Dun and the small road that runs through the glen.

It was built between 1845 and 1849 and still stands strong to this day.

It’s best seen from the glen road as you drive through Glendun, where you can slow down and admire it in all its beauty.

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