From Ballycastle..... the Torr Scenic Route turns off the main A2 at Ballyvoy and follows the coast to Cushendun, the Ulster Way also follows the road which passes the access lanes to Fair Head and Murlough Bay. From Murlough the route climbs up to Greenamore Mountain and over to Torr Head where you will be rewarded with some spectacular views across to the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland. The old ruined buildings below Torr was once a custom house and the building on the point an old lookout station - in the late 1800's like at Malin Head, this was a semaphore signalling station that recorded the passage of transatlantic ships and relayed the information to Lloyds of London and the incoming port of destination, it is one of the first places that wireless telegraphy developed by Marconi was installed.
The tides around Torr are particularly treacherous - on a still day when a flood tide is running it rushes around the headland with the roar of a fast flowing river. The small harbour and old salmon fishery of Portaleen lies on the east side of the headland, nestled in close to the shore and sheltered from prevailing winds.
The small roads around Torr and along the Scenic Road are lined in places with Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) which was planted intentionally as hedgerows. In summer, this native North American plant gives a wonderful display of colour, enhancing the already stunning natural landscape. The road from here climbs up to Green Hill and then descends steeply into Loughan which overlooks Loughan Bay, scattered in the landscape you will see the remains of small cottages, whose occupants left and emigrated over a century ago. It never ceases to leave me in wonderment as to how they managed to scratch an existence and raise families in such a wild, exposed landscape that up until the late 1800's was almost inaccessible.
From Loughan and Coolranny the road ascends and takes you round Carnaneigh Mountain where it descends into Tornamoney Valley - as you descend, on the far side of the valley you will see Altagore Cashel. The walls of this stone fort are still three metres high and show evidence of internal stairs which accessed a terrace - cashel's like these were built in Ireland between 500BC and 1000AD - this one is believed to date to the early Christian period. From here the route finally descends into Cushendun past a cairn erected in 1908 to Shane O'Neill, and further down the road is the ruin of Carra Castle which he at one time had ownership of.
The Torr Scenic Route is extremely beautiful but you should takes extra caution as it is minor road which in places is extremely narrow and winding with some steep inclines. Many wing mirrors have been lost on this road due to people not taking caution. The highlights are the spectacular views across the north Channel to Scotland and the Mull of Kintyre, It is a drive through beautiful but wild landscape full of sheep and old ruined homesteads.
Access to the drive can be from Cushendun or Ballyvoy, remember if you take it and rejoin the Causeway Coastal Route you will miss out seeing Glendun and the famous Glendun Viaduct bridge and also Loughareema, the vanishing lake which lies on top of the mountain road. For local accommodation click here for direct links.