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When we think of going to the North Coast, we often wait for warm weather and sunny days. However, my favourite time of year to head to the coast has always been winter. There is something very majestic about the landscape at this time of the year. The dark skies, looming clouds and monstrous waves all add a bit of drama to the trip! Grab a good heavy coat, hat and scarf, and you’re good to go!
There are many places to go for a nice brisk walk that appeal to all ages and abilities. One of my favourite spots is Portballintrae. Slightly outside the North Coast triangle, it’s an often-forgotten gem. The beach boasts crashing waves, a picturesque bridge and clean golden sand. The route is known as the ‘Portballintrae Loop’ as it takes you right back to the Giant’s Causeway and along the cliff path before bringing you back to the car park.
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This is a fairly gentle walk, starting off along the beach before taking you along a path that eventually leads out to the Giant’s Causeway. It’s at this point where the walk may become slightly more challenging. The path takes you along the cliff edge overlooking the magnificent Causeway itself. From the top you can look over and see a great view of the famous hexagons. This part of the walk also boasts sensational views overlooking the ocean, which you most definitely should stop to take in. There’s nothing quite like it!
The route is mainly downhill from here, and the path can be slightly narrow and over-grown. Passing the impressive Runkerry Point has you right back to the start where you will end your walk along the beach once again. It’s a fabulous walk, and it’s very manageable.
Another place to visit during the winter months is Benone Strand. The strand is a favourite for many people and it’s one of Ireland’s longest beaches. The beach is seven miles long and boasts spectacular view of Binevenagh Mountain and Donegal. Walking the length of the beach takes you just below the magnificent Mussenden Temple, which is just as stunning from that angle as it is from the cliff top. It’s all flat ground, making it perfect for every age.
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If you aren’t a fan of the sand you can use the boardwalk situated just behind the sand dunes. This takes you along the same route as the beach and provides stunning views of the mountains. The best part of the Benone Strand walk is the fabulous coffee available at Sea Shed Coffee, which is situated in the car park – the perfect way to warm up and top off a great day out!