The drive to Slemish mountain is a two glen experience which takes you the full length of Glencloy (Glen of the Hedges or Dykes) and Glenarm (Glen of the Army), both are signposted in their respective villages (Glenarm and Carnlough). The two roads join at the top of the plateau, creating a loop drive of around 15 miles. To go to Slemish will add another five miles to the journey. At the top of the glens follow the sign for Slemish and Buckna.
Glenarm Scenic Route winds its way to the top of the Antrim Plateau, along the way are stopping places with great views back over Glenarm Castle demesne and beyond to Scotland where the MacDonnell clan originate. Today Glenarm Castle is the clan seat, this was moved from Ballymagarry House near Dunluce Castle after it was destroyed in a fire. The road opens out as it reaches the top of the plateau where it joins the Glencloy Scenic Route. At this junction, on your left, you will see the sign for Slemish and Buckna, this road is narrower but will take you to Slemish mountain.
Once you get to Slemish you will be rewarded with some fabulous views over the Braid Valley and the fertile plains of Antrim towards Ballymena and beyond. If your feeling fit, take the climb to the top of Slemish for an even more sensational experience and enjoy a 360 degree vista. The path is rough in places and made by the footsteps of thousands of people who have walk to the top. This is the generic area where Patricius (St Patrick) was enslaved for six years, where he discovered his spirituality and from where he escaped to follow his calling. Across the valley on a rocky outcrop you can find the ruins of Skerry Church, believed to have been founded by Patrick when he returned to Ireland and converted his old master Milchu to Christianity. Google Map Ref: https://goo.gl/maps/Z99p5
To explore this area and visit Skerry Church you will need to go off the designated route. Use the google map reference linked here and look for the Loughloughan Road. The ruins you find today dates to circa 1500 with some parts going back to 1300. It is widely believed that this was the site of an earlier Christian settlement founded by Patrick. It is said that while enslaved here he had a vision of an angel ascending from a hilltop which is believed to have been the Hill of Skerry. This may have been where his master Milchu lived.
After his escape and several years in France and England, he had a calling to return to Ireland and came back to his old master and converted him to the philosophy of Christianity, in return Milchu gave Patrick land for a church. There is also a stone on the site which has what could be interpreted as a footprint indented in it. This is said to be the footprint of the Archangel Gabriel whom Patrick had seen while enslaved. You can also sample some fabulous scenery, stone walled fields, fertile lowlands and rugged mountain tops from here. A little off the beaten track but well worth the effort.
As you come back along the Carnlough Road you will rejoin the Glencloy Scenic Route and travel down a wide sweeping glen which again has some wonderful views over Carnlough and across to Scotland and the Isles. It is an interesting loop off the main Causeway Coastal Route which gives you another perspective and experience of the varied landscapes which form the nine glens of Antrim. The four scenic glen drives cover all nine glens, though it will mean you will need to stay over locally if you want to enjoy them at a leisurely pace. For more information about the glens follow menu link.
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