The RSPB West Light Seabird Centre is now closed for the 2015 season. It will re-open Easter 2016 with improved visitor facilities and the opportunity to tour the lighthouse, as part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland Trail.
A road and track route west across this beautiful island. From harbour-side seals to the clamorous seabird colony, four miles of heath and ancient meadow provide a wealth of wildlife to enjoy.
Antrim Coast & Glens
Grid Ref (Start)
On Public road
Grid Ref (End)
A steep ascent from the harbour in Church Bay, then fairly level, tarmac road for three miles. Dismount at the two cattle grids. Rough, unfenced, gravel track for final mile.
Rathlin Island from Church Bay to the RSPB Seabird Centre.
At harbour choose: 1.) Go left, pass shop, turn right at church and ascend steeply to chapel or: 2.) Go right, pass Manor House and toilets, left at McCauig's Bar and left again at crossroads to chapel.
Route bears left and continues to ascend. With its height, there are good views to west - Donegal and north Antrim coast; to south - Ballycastle and FairHead; to east - East Lighthouse and Kintyre.
The road continues through heath and meadow to the nature reserves at the western end of the island. Take care to dismount at the second cattle grid. The road here becomes a rough, gravel track leading to spectacular views from the RSPB Seabird Centre.
getting to the start
Rathlin Island Ferry Service from Ballycastle.
Tel 028 207 69299
Route starts at arrival to Rathlin Harbour.
Generally traffic is restricted to Islanders only, so apart from a minibus there are few cars and farm vehicles. Walkers also use this route and there may be cattle on the unfenced stretch through the nature reserve.
Car parking at ferry terminal
Cycle hire on island 207 63954
Accommodation, refreshment and toilets at Church Bay.
Refreshments and toilets at the RSPB Seabird Centre.
information for People with a Disability
Disabled badge holders may travel with vehicle to island.
Mainly public, tarmac road with rough gravel section at end (1 mile). Main viewing area at RSPB Seabird Centre is accessed by 87 steps, but scenic views of the seabird colony can be enjoyed from the road level.
RSPB 'Step Ashore' trail guide to the Rathlin Island Seabird Centre.
RSPB Northern Ireland Headquarters 028 9049 1547
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