Weekend Walk: Roonivoolin, Rathlin Island

Looking at Fair Head, Co Antrim, from Rathlin David Doyle Photography
Looking at Fair Head, Co Antrim, from Rathlin David Doyle Photography

Area: Co Antrim.

Distance: Four miles circular.

Map: Sheet 5 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series available from Land & Property Services or

Nearest town to start: Rathlin Village.

Facilities: Shop, café and toilet facilities available in the village.

Developed by: RSPB.

Terrain: Tarmac laneways and open fields.

Walk Description: Why not escape to an island this weekend? A 10km boat trip off the north Antrim coast and measuring four miles from east to west, and 2.5 miles from north to south, Rathlin is accessed by ferry from Ballycastle.

From Rathlin Harbour follow the path right along Shore Road past the Manor House, Kelp Kilns and Mill Bay to Craigmacaghan Lough and continue until you reach the RSPB information panel highlighting the Roonivoolin Reserve.

Roonivoolin “the place of the gulls” located at the southernmost tip of Rathlin is of vital importance for its wildlife. The loop trail through the reserve skirts the cliffs offering you panoramic views towards the hills of Donegal and Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre. There are excellent opportunities for you to view a wide range of coastal, Lakeland and grassland birds.

Having taken some time to explore the reserve, rejoin the path at the road just above Ushet Port. A favourite haunt for seals, you can often see them sunning themselves on the shores. Continue south along the tarmac path to visit Rue Lighthouse.

One of three lighthouses on the island, Rue Point Lighthouse sits at the southern tip of Rathlin, only 2.5 miles from Fair Head on the mainland. Constructed in 1920-21, the lighthouse sits 35 feet above sea level, and is “an unwatched light” fully automated since its conversion to electricity in 1965 and monitored from Rathlin’s East Lighthouse.

Return to the harbour along the tarmac path where you can enjoy a well-earned cup of tea and bun before catching the last ferry of the day back to Ballycastle.

Responsible Walking: Please remember to practice the principles of Leave No Trace when enjoying the outdoors in order to minimise your impact on the environment. For more information, visit

Disclaimer: This information has been provided by in association with The Irish News. Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information. However, neither nor The Irish News can accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

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