Rathlin Island Trekking | RumboNSEO

Rathlin Island is an isle of approximately 150 inhabitants located in the north extreme of Northern Ireland and part of the famous Causeway Coastal Route. 

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

History

The isle has a rich historical legacy; inhabited from Neolithic times 4000bc, Viking settlements, Anglo-Normans and some important historical figures like Robert the Bruce and Guglielmo Marconi who establish the first wireless signal between East Lighthouse and the port of Ballycastle during the XIX century.

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

How to go to Rathlin Island?

Assuming the majority of the people planning to travel from Belfast I’m going to explain how to go to Rathlin from Europa Station. There is not an easy task but not impossible if you take the first and last public transport.

As I mentioned before Rathlin is located in the North of Northern Ireland and the closer town is Ballycastle so from Belfast to Ballycastle there are not trains but there is a special bus during the summer times. If you planning to travel outside of high season the only alternative is combine train and bus:

A. Train Belfast – Ballymena + Bus Ballymena – Ballycastle

B. Train Belfast – Coleraine + Bus Coleraine – Ballycastle

The best option if you don’t have enough time and planning to return to Belfast is: Option A and way back with option B. The only problem here is cost because there are different routes but there is a special transport card (iLink) which cover all the Zones by bus and train for one day for 19.50£. At the end of the day the salving is not too much but is more convenient than individual tickets.

For train and buses timetables you can use the official Northern Ireland website http://www.translink.co.uk/

Once you arrive in Ballycastle there is an small ferry terminal where you’ll need to register in order to take the next ferry. The reason of this is because they control the people who visit the island for stay overnight.

Terminal opening times:

From 28th March to 16th September (*)

08:30 – 18:30

From 17th September to 16th April (*)

08.30 – 12.30 & 13.30 – 17.00

The journey with fast ferry take 25 minutes and conventional big ferry 40 minutes.

From 28th March to 16th September (*)

Departure Rathlin Departure Ballycastle

* 07:30

* 08:00

** 08:30

** 09:00

08:30

10:00

10:00

11:00

11:00

12:00

12:00

13:00

** 15:00

**15:30

15:30

16:30

16:15

17:00

17:30

18:30

N/A

N/A

X 19:30

X 20:00

* Monday to Friday
** June, July and August
X Aditional of Friday to Sunday during July and August 

From 17th September to 16th April (*)

Departure Rathlin Departure Ballycastle

* 08.00

* 08:30

09:00

10:30

12:00

14:00

15:00

16:00

A 16:00

A 16:30

B 16:30

B 17:00

* Monday to Friday
A – From 1st November to 31 of January

B – From 17th September – 31th October
and  1st February to 16th April

For more information visit the official ferry website: https://rathlinballycastleferry.com

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

What to see and do in Rathlin Island

Rahtlin is not a conventional touristic destination; is a place for stay in contact with the nature, trekking, cycling and watch the birds. There are not towns, monuments, shops or important historical sites but is an attractive destination for local tourism. In the isle we can visit the following sites:

  • Lighthouse: There are 3 in the isle. East lighthouse, South lighthouse, West Lighthouse.
Rathlin Island

East Lighthouse

  • Trekking paths:
    1. The main path is an asphalted route of 15 kilometres long which join the south lighthouse with west lighthouse
    2. The other asphalted path is a short path of 2 kilometres long from Immaculate Church to East Lighthouse.

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

Short path to east lighthouse

  • RSPB: In the west point of the island we’ll find a bird observatory with Fulmars, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake and the main attraction: Puffins. Puffins are located in the cliffs and a small isle during the months of April to July. For more information and reserve follow the next link: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/rathlin-island/
Isle of Noss

Puffins

  • Churches: There are only 2 churches in the whole isle: St. Thomas and Immaculate Conception Church. Both are practically close each other and easy to access from the main road.
Rathlin Island

St. Thomas

Rathlin Island

Immaculate conception church

  • Archeological remains: Close to the main road there are a few Viking stones.
Important things to know
  • Bring your own food and drink because there is just one pub and restaurant in all the isle.
  • Ferry is can suffer cancellations if the weather is bad. Check the weather forecast day before: https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/2656531
  • Is not possible to visit all the isle in one day without a bike or vehicle. The ferry arrive and departure from the center of the isle and from one point to another one of the isle there are 15 kilometers. Ideally you need two days if you don’t want to run and lost the ferry.
  • Rent a bike is a good alternative to trekking. There are not an official store for that just hostels in the area like Soerneog View Hostel (BT54 6RT) offer this possibility. Alternative you can carry your own bike in the ferry or rent a bike in Ballycastle.
  • There is just one main road with practically no cars for walking without any worry.
  • Good trekking shoes are essential.