Portstewart to Portballintrae
Northern Ireland, Causeway Coast, United Kingdom
William Mackesy’s account of this walk
Port Stewart is a nice Victorian resort with fine beaches either side, [and indeed below the town, next to its harbour.
You leave the town walking through a golf course, a tad bathetic but saved by the beauty of the shoreline. In due course you get above low cliffs for an excellent walk, albeit always within the sight of development. Portrush appears across a bay, then we are in its suburbs (we meet lots of these on this walk). The beach below the centre of town is wide and firm, with a pretty little harbour next to it. We pause at the low headland beyond to enjoy the huge views along the coast, looking west the whole way to Donegal.
A short walk back along the eastern shore gets us to the enormous Curran Strand beach, a [4 mile stretch of wide, firm sand with huge sand dunes heaped up behind it. In mid-September, there are people here, but they disappear into the space so you often feel comfortably alone. Walkopedia had no choice but to take its boots off and splosh along in the shadows. Gentle if sustained joy.
We eat our picnic sitting on a natural little shelf where the beach meets the dunes, just round the curve so Portrush is no more.
Just before the end of the beach, we head up into the dunes, to climb onto the hillside above the beach end. The next couple of kilometres would be wonderful walking, but for being right beside the main road. This being Northern Ireland, the road is not as heavily used as elsewhere, but even so it is a drag. There are many delights, though: wildly eroded chalk cliffs, complete with holes and arches; a geologically fascinating layering of lava over chalk in the cliffs (old quarries) to our right; the absurdly romantically sited Dunluce castle on its cliff-top. The approach to Portballintrae has fine views across its bay, somewhat marred by development, but the village around its harbour has some charm, although it has been heavily developed in recent years.
We turn towards Bushmills, dropping onto the railway line we followed from the coast the day before.
A good walk, with some marvels and delights, somewhat spoilt by a lot of development.