Exploring Murlough Bay: Stunning Views & Essential Visitor Tips

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Murlough Bay, a hidden gem on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, invites you to immerse yourself in its breathtaking natural beauty, rich history, and captivating attractions. From its dramatic cliffs and geological wonders to its connections with historical figures and popular television series, let Murlough Bay’s alluring charm envelop you as you embark on a memorable coastal adventure.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Murlough Bay for its natural beauty, rich history and iconic views.

  • Enjoy outdoor activities such as rock climbing and wildlife sightings while taking necessary safety precautions.

  • Capture stunning photos of the bay with photography tips like using a wide angle lens during golden hours.

Discovering Murlough Bay: Natural Beauty and Rich History

Breathtaking view of Murlough Bay

Situated between Ballycastle and Torr Head, Murlough Bay boasts a captivating landscape that has inspired awe and wonder for centuries. With its rugged rocks, seemingly endless miles of spectacular views, and geological marvels, Murlough Bay is a testament to Northern Ireland’s captivating beauty.

The name Murlough, derived from the Gaelic term for “sea inlet,” is fitting for this mesmerizing coastal area, where the vistas encompass Rathlin Island, the Mull of Kintyre, and the peaks of Arran in the distance.

Geographical Overview

Murlough Bay’s unique geological features stem from its location on a geological boundary, resulting in a diverse array of rocks, including basalt overlaying sandstone and limestone. As you explore this stunning coastal area, you’ll be greeted by lush green vegetation blanketing the hillside and the dramatic cliffs of Fair Head, which stand at an elevation of 600 feet and provide an exhilarating rock climbing location.

On clear days, you can even glimpse the Scottish islands in the distance, adding another layer of enchantment to Murlough Bay’s captivating charm.

Historical Significance

Murlough Bay’s allure extends beyond its natural beauty, as it has long been a site of historical importance. In 595AD, St. Colomba arrived at Murlough Bay, establishing a monastery and leaving an indelible mark on the area’s history.

Centuries later, Sir Roger Casement, a former British government diplomat, was interred in Murlough Bay following his execution in 1916. A concrete plinth near the Old Church of Drumnakill marks the site of a cross on the pilgrims’ trail and once held a memorial cross to commemorate Sir Roger Casement.

A Journey Through Murlough Bay: Scenic Walks and Attractions

Scenic walk along Murlough Bay

Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply seeking a leisurely stroll, Murlough Bay offers a variety of scenic walks and attractions to suit your interests. From the picturesque Murlough Bay walk to the nearby attractions of Fair Head, Ballycastle, and the Causeway Coastal Route, there are ample opportunities to marvel at the remarkable landscapes and immerse yourself in the area’s history and culture.

Murlough Bay Walk

The The Trail of Murlough Bay is a 4.4km hike that offers stunning coastal views and a challenging yet rewarding climb. The walk begins at the car park on Murlough Road, progressing north towards Knockbrack Viewpoint, and spans a distance of approximately 3.5 miles. As you venture along this scenic trail, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that call Murlough Bay home, including peregrine falcons, buzzards, eider ducks, and fulmars.

The walk concludes at the picturesque Torr Head Beach, a perfect spot to relax and reflect on your journey.

Nearby Attractions

In addition to the The Trail of Murlough Bay, the surrounding area offers a wealth of attractions to explore. Fair Head, a headland located northwest of Murlough Bay, features towering cliffs ascending to a height of 196m above the sea. For those seeking a more urban experience, Ballycastle, a coastal town and the eastern gateway to the Causeway Coast, offers a variety of activities, including visiting Ballycastle Beach and sampling local cuisine at nearby restaurants.

Don’t overlook the Causeway Coastal Route in County Antrim, a scenic trail linking Belfast and Derry, presenting some of the most awe-inspiring coastal landscapes in Northern Ireland.

Murlough Bay and Game of Thrones

Murlough Bay’s enchanting landscape caught the attention of the creators of the acclaimed television series Game of Thrones, who selected it as a filming location for several scenes. The windswept cliffs and stunning views provided a dramatic backdrop for the parley between Renly and Stannis Baratheon, as well as scenes set in Slaver’s Bay.

The filming of Game of Thrones in Murlough Bay has further boosted the area’s tourism, drawing fans from around the world who are eager to explore this remarkable location.

Outdoor Activities and Wildlife

Wild goats in Murlough Bay

For those eager to connect with nature, Murlough Bay offers a variety of outdoor activities and wildlife encounters. Rock climbing enthusiasts will find Fair Head and Sail Rock to be popular destinations for challenging climbs and breathtaking views. Birdwatchers can enjoy the presence of various avian species, such as peregrine falcons, common buzzards, choughs, and guillemots, particularly during the autumn season when birdwatching is most advantageous.

Also, watch out for the wild goats residing in the woodlands and cliff ledges of Murlough Bay.

Visiting Murlough Bay: Practical Information

Clifftop car park overlooking Murlough Bay

Before embarking on your Murlough Bay adventure, you should think about practical matters such as parking, safety measures, and the perks of National Trust membership.

Ensuring a smooth and enjoyable visit to the stunning north coast area will allow you to fully appreciate its breath taking natural beauty and historical significance.

Parking and Access

When visiting Murlough Bay, you’ll find a small car park conveniently located next to the road. However, be mindful of the steep, winding road that leads to the bay and exercise caution, as it can be narrow and requires focus on driving rather than the surrounding scenery. It’s also worth noting that phone signal can be sporadic in the area, so plan accordingly.

Safety Precautions

Staying safe during your visit to Murlough Bay is of utmost importance. Adhere to beach safety tips, such as checking for lifeguard availability, being aware of tides and currents, and monitoring children at all times.

Additionally, it’s not uncommon to encounter WWII ammunition in Murlough Bay. If you come across any such items, please follow these steps:

  1. Report them to a member of staff or call the police immediately.

  2. Do not touch or move the items, as they may be dangerous.

  3. Wait for the experts to arrive, as they have the expertise and equipment to handle the situation safely.

National Trust Membership

Becoming a National Trust member not only grants you access to over 500 locations, but also aids in preserving the natural charm and historical legacy of places like Murlough Bay.

Membership costs vary, with prices starting from as little as £6 per month. Your support through membership helps to conserve Murlough Bay and maintain its well-preserved natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.

Capturing Murlough Bay: Photography Tips and Iconic Views

Photography tips for capturing Murlough Bay

To immortalize the beauty of Murlough Bay in photographs, consider visiting during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, when soft lighting creates awe-inspiring visuals. The most iconic views in Murlough Bay include:

  • Ballycastle

  • Rathlin Island

  • Scotland (on a clear day)

  • Fair Head

  • Torr Head

  • Panoramic vistas of Rathlin Island and the Kintyre Peninsula

Don’t forget to capture and share your stunning Murlough Bay photos with friends and family.

When capturing wildlife, practice patience and observe their habits, using a fast shutter speed and a long lens to get close-up shots without disturbing the animals. Finally, for optimal coastal photography, consider using a wide-angle lens, setting a small aperture for a wide depth of field, and experimenting with different shutter speeds.

Summary

Murlough Bay, with its captivating natural beauty, rich history, and diverse outdoor activities, is a must-visit destination for those seeking a memorable coastal adventure. From its unique geological features and connections to historical figures to its role in the popular television series Game of Thrones, Murlough Bay offers a wealth of experiences to satisfy the most discerning traveler. So, pack your camera, lace up your walking shoes, and embark on a journey to this remarkable Northern Irish coastal gem.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the walk in Murlough Bay?

The Murlough Bay walk is a 2.5 mile long trail, starting and finishing in the National Trust car park. It takes you through the Slidderyford Path to Murlough Beach and then onto the Central Reserve via the Archaeology Path.

Can you swim in Murlough Bay?

Swimming in Murlough Bay is not advised as there are flags to indicate when it is too dangerous to swim. When a red flag is flying, the water should be avoided and swimming is not recommended.

Who is buried at Murlough Bay?

Sir Roger Casement, the Irish patriot and poet famous for his activities against human rights abuses in the Congo and Peru, and for his dealings with Germany, is buried at Murlough Bay.

Who owns Murlough Bay?

Murlough Bay is owned by the National Trust and has been managed as Ireland’s first Nature Reserve since 1967. The fragile 6000 year old sand dune system boasts an excellent area for walking and bird watching due to its spectacular location.

What is the best time of day to photograph Murlough Bay?

The best time of day to photograph Murlough Bay is during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, when the soft lighting creates a beautiful atmosphere.

About the author

Originally from Scotland, Colin now resides near the beautiful seaside town of Portstewart on the Causeway Coastal Route. By day he works in IT and by day off he spends much of his time travelling around the Island with his young family, writing about his experiences for many sites both locally and nationally.

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