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Antrim Hills Area Printable format
Maximum height for area: 550 metres Summits in area: 26
OS Map(s): 14, 15, 4, 5, 8, 9 for all tops Set Area Map On

Walk Guide 60 for
Sallagh Braes to Glenarm
Maintainer: pdtempan
Guide rating stars (Guide rating: 4.61)

MountainViews.ie Picture from walk Sallagh Braes to Glenarm, Antrim Hills
Walk length: 16.0km   Ascent: 300m   Duration (without stops): 5:30 h:mm
This walk along one of the lesser-known sections of the Ulster Way combines dramatic landscapes (especially at Sallagh Braes and Knockdhu) with views of the Scottish coast, weather permitting, and plenty of archaeological interest, and all this for relatively little investment of effort. It is best enjoyed in May, when the carpet of bluebells is in bloom at Sallagh. With a little luck, you should get views of Larne Lough, Island Magee, Belfast Lough, the Copeland Islands, Trostan, Inishowen, the Sperrins and Slemish. Further afield you may see the Isle of Man, the Galloway coast, Ailsa Craig, the mountains of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre. The main points of archaeological interest are the standing stone at the start, the promontory fort on Knockdhu (ramparts still visible), the ritual enclosures at Linford and the standing stone on Ballygilbert Hill. There are several other sites not far off route, notably some chambered graves, a cross inscribed stone and a souterrain on the slopes of Knockdhu, but I have not visited these, so you would need to enquire about access beforehand.
Points visited:
Start = D337 044 - Sallagh Braes = D342 051 - D339 056 - D338 063 - Knockdhu Promontory Fort = D343 067 - Linford Ritual Enclosures = D332 072 - Scawt Hill = D338 090 - Ballygilbert Hill (standing stone) = D334 103 - footbridge = D332 111 - Black Hill = D329 108 - Dunarragan (road) = D310 124 - D313 134 - D310 142 - Finish = D311 153
 (Guide last changed: 2009-01-26)

The ideal transport solution is to be dropped at the point where the Ulster Way crosses Killyglen Road (near the standing stone) and to be picked up at Glenarm. However, it is possible to walk out to Killyglen Road from Larne and to get a bus back from Glenarm to Larne (but note that this will add considerably to the total ascent as well as the distance). With a bit of planning, it is even feasible from Belfast by public transport. I’ve done this twice, both times on a Sunday, taking the train from Belfast to Larne and the Coaster bus from Glenarm all the way back to Belfast.

MountainViews.ie Picture from walk Sallagh Braes to Glenarm, Antrim Hills
Start at the point where the Ulster Way crosses Killyglen Road (near the standing stone). The spot is inauspicious enough, the surrounding moorland seeming uninviting, especially in the shadow of gloomy Agnew's Hill, but all this will change fairly quickly. Cross the stile and head NE towards Sallagh Braes.

Sallagh Braes to Linford
When you arrive at Sallagh Braes, a vast natural amphitheatre of cliffs is revealed. In springtime a carpet of bluebells covers the grassy hillocks below in the townland of Sallagh. Bluebells usually grow in woods as they like the protection afforded by trees. However, at Sallagh it is the east-facing horseshoe of cliffs which protects the flowers from the prevailing weather. Follow the Ulster Way northwards along the cliff edge, where ravens can often be seen circling. As you approach Knockdhu, leave the path and follow the cliff edge towards the promontory fort. This is one of a few Irish promontory forts which are found inland at hill sites. There is another at Lurigethan, a few miles further north from here, and two more are located on the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry. The substantial earthen banks which defended the fort on Knockdhu are still visible, though somewhat flattened due to erosion. This promontory fort was excavated in 2008 by a team from Queen's University Belfast in conjunction with Time Team (shown on Channel 4, 18th Jan 2009). The excavations revealed the presence of a score of round-houses on the promontory inside the ramparts. An ancient roadway was also found, leading to a gap in the ramparts where there was probably a gatehouse. These structures were dated to the middle Bronze Age (for more details, see http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/T/timeteam/2009/knock/knock-found.html). It is worth visiting the cliffs at the southern end and then following the embankment to the promontory’s northern cliffs. The odd landforms here appear to be the result of landslip. From here walk W to rejoin the Ulster Way and descend towards the road. Just before the road you will reach a group of ritual enclosures, which are of uncertain date but are usually considered to be from the Bronze Age. However, what is certain is that these circular structures are not defensive in purpose as they would give the higher ground to any attacker. See the Newsletter of the Ulster Archaeological Society, June 2005, for further details.

MountainViews.ie Picture from walk Sallagh Braes to Glenarm, Antrim Hills
Linford to Glenarm
Crossing the road, you pass some more enclosures and earthworks as you head towards the unnamed 361m peak in the townland of Ballycoos. After a slight dip, you climb to Scawt Hill (378m), the view across the North Channel improving all the while. This is the highest point so far on the route, unless you diverted earlier to bag the rather non-descript summit of Robin Young’s Hill (384m). Scawt Hill gets its name from the cliffs on its eastern flank which give it a rugged appearance. Scawt or Scawd is a Scots word meaning ‘scaly, scabby or rugged’. The next landmark is the bulbous standing stone on Ballygilbert Hill, which also has a scabby look about it. See my article on Scawt Hill in The Glynns, 2006, for further information. From here it is less than a kilometre to Black Hill, but a marshy area forces the Ulster Way to make a wide arc to the N. This path is often muddy, but there is a footbridge at the biggest stream, making the diversion worthwhile. At 381m Black Hill is just a little higher than Scawt Hill, but being set further back, it does not have the same dominating view of the coastal region between Cairncastle and Glenarm.

We now descend, heading NW and inland, with a slight climb over Crockandoo before reaching the road at Dunarragan. Follow the road for 1.8km, taking special care at the bends. Turn left onto a quieter road named Town Brae, which descends steeply into the attractive village of Glenarm. The street meets the main coast road (A2) at the bottom of the village. The bus stop for Larne/Belfast is a few yards on the Larne side of the junction. Glenarm is an estate village and the Earl of Antrim still resides at Glenarm Castle (not open to the public). If you have some extra time, it is worth exploring the village and the path in the woods to the south.

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