Day 1: Transfer to Rathlin Island. Depart Wicklow early on Friday morning; pickup points and time will be confirmed 2 weeks before departure. We need to be in Ballycastle Co. Antrim before 1800hrs where we have to leave our bus behind in the carpark, as only local vehicles are allowed on the Island. We take the 1830 ferry to the island; travelling time across is approximately 45min. The Manor House is situated 100mtrs from the ferry port. After settling into your room you will have the choice of a short walk along part of the bay or simply relax in the quaint Manor House Bar, bed whenever.
Day 2: The East Light House
After having a hearty relaxing breakfast we will leave at approximately 10am the Manor to do a walk to Rue Point, the South Lighthouse. The trail takes us out of the village along by Church Bay passing the new heritage centre and the old Kelp Factory. There was a lively trade in kelp in the 18th century. Seaweed was collected and put into stone kilns and burned until it turned into a "boiling mass". Kelp was used to produce soda and iodine. On our onward journey we pass two small lakes (Craigmacagan and Ushet), a popular breeding place for wild ducks, Canadian geese and other waterfowl. From here we take a short descent to Doon Bay, this was originally the main fishing port, also used by smugglers who traded tobacco and spirits between Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. A gentle walk takes us around Rue Point lighthouse and back to the Manor House. If we have time left in the afternoon we have the option to take a short walk to the East Lighthouse and have a look at the cliffs where Robert the Bruce sheltered.
Day 3: West Lighthouse & Kebble Nature Reserve
After breakfast our walk takes us to the Western side of the Island alongside the harbour. A short steep climb takes us along a narrow country road, passing the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church to reach a memorial plaque commemorating the 500 Islanders who emigrated from here during the great Famine. On our way West we will have great views to the South across Church Bay, Rue Point and out to the cliffs of Fair Head on the mainland. Once we reach the West Lighthouse we can take the steps down to the observation deck that overlooks the bird stacks and cliffs. A volunteer from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is normally on hand to answer questions, sell books and gift items, and keep the free telescopes aimed at nesting birds. Our return journey takes us along the coast passed a series of hexagonal basalt columns and wildflowers to Kinramer Wood, where there are great views across Lough Nanskin and Lack Point and back to Church Bay.
At 15:30 hrs we take the ferry back to Ballycastle to pick up our bus to begin our homeward journey. On the way to Dublin we will stop off in the town of Antrim for our evening meal. Home whenever.
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