Often overlooked by tourists seeking the thrill of the nearby Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge or Giant's Causeway, Kinbane Castle is a humble reminder of Antrim's noble past with some of the best views you could find on the North coast.
Built by the MacDonnell clan in 1547, the castle was two stories high and would have stretched across the narrow headland projecting out in to the sea. Now, all that remains of the castle is the main tower however there are the same incredible views out to Rathlin Island and the western Scottish isles.
The drive down to the carpark is narrow with no room for the huge tourist coaches that can be seen at the busier spots along the coast. This is a blessing because there are less crowds here and plenty of room to explore the headland, coves and rocky beaches.
It's a fairly steep climb down so be mindful that you'll have to climb back up all those steps to get back to the car! I took quite a few rest breaks on the way back up but thankfully there were plenty of views to give me the excuse to take a break.
There's a wee fisherman's cottage that has been long abandoned but serves as a reminder of the thriving fishing industry that used to exist along these waters. Could you image waking up this view every day?!
Back in the castle's heyday, sieges and fires were common as English forces attempted to run the MacDonnell's out of Ireland and back to Scotland. The sieges were not always successful and before one attack in the 16th century, English soldiers lay waiting in the waters between the cliffs and the castle. Upon seeing the soliders, those living within the castle walls lit a fire on the headland to call for assistance. Clansmen came from all directions to help and surrounded the soldiers, trapping them in the hollow between the cliffs and killing them all. From then on, the hollow became known as "Lag na Sassenach" (Hollow of the English).
There are plenty of spots to sit, have a rest or, even better, eat a picnic! It's worth taking the time to enjoy the scenery rather than rushing it especially when the weather is uncharacteristic for Autumn like it was on the day we visited!
Walking to the tip of the headland, you'll be greeted with views out to Rathlin island and further out to Isle of Islay and the Kintyre peninsula. To the east there are views to Fair Head past Ballintoy and to the west you can see the faint outline of Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
It's hard to believe Kinbane isn't more overun with tourists but I think that's the beauty of it, it remains one of the few spots on this coastline that feels peaceful even on a sunny Saturday. The climb back up to the car park is definitely a tough one so remember to take water with you and wear shoes that easy to climb in, you'll thank yourself when you reach the top!
Once you've explored the ruins, how about taking to the seas? Next time I'm up on the coast for the day I plan to book a tour with Abháinn Cruises to see all of the amazing sites from the sea and maybe get up close with the seals and dolphins!
Any excuse to come back up here again, right?!