New map plots route to hidden gems in The Glens

From left,  Kelli Bagchus, manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, John Robbin of Craicntour and Julie Campbell of The Ballygally Apartments. Pic by Carrie Davenport.
From left, Kelli Bagchus, manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, John Robbin of Craicntour and Julie Campbell of The Ballygally Apartments. Pic by Carrie Davenport.

Glens of Antrim coastal businesses are set for a boost through a new map higlighting the route’s hidden gems.

The Carrickfergus Enterprise-led project is encouraging visitors to take the road less travelled this summer to discover some of the must-see tourist attractions in the area.

The Glens of Antrim Coastal Map, which is being supported by the Coastal Communities Fund, plots 20 hidden gems from Ballygally to Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.

A total of 30 businesses, including hotels, restaurants, attractions and experiences, are currently taking part in the initiative. Tourists will be able to collect a copy of the free map at each of the locations.

The map is part of the Glens of Antrim Coastal Hub Programme which aims to support businesses to increase sales and enhance visitor experiences. It offers a range of initiatives including business mentoring, ICT development, WorldHost training and mystery shopping analysis.

The project is funded by Coastal Communities Fund which is funded by the government with income from the Crown Estate Marine Assets. It is delivered by Big Lottery on behalf of the UK government.

Kelli Bagchus, manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, said: “The Glens of Antrim Coastal Route is one of Northern Ireland’s most scenic areas yet it can be easily overlooked as visitors rush past on their way to the Giant’s Causeway.

“Northern Ireland’s economy has grown significantly over the past 20 years and tourism has played a vital role in that growth. From the Ballygally Bear to the waterfalls in the Glenariff Forest Park, we want visitors to appreciate the lesser known attractions, stay longer and invest more time in the Glens of Antrim.

“It’s an exciting time for tourism in Northern Ireland, especially as Belfast and the Causeway Coast were voted second best region by Lonely Planet earlier this year, but we want to unlock the whole potential of our coastal regions including The Glens of Antrim.”

The Ballygally Apartments is among the business participating. Owner Julie Campbell said: “The map is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the unique offering of The Glens. We’ve recently taken over the ownership of the Ballygally Apartments and the map is a great way to engage with our customers, encourage them to visit new places and bring more awareness to this part of the world.”

The participating businesses are: Ballycairn Enterprises, Ballyeamon Barn, Ballygally Apartments, Ballygally Castle, Ballymacdoe Cottage, Blackthorn & Willow, Carnlough Boat Tours, Craicntour, Cushendall Golf Club, Dark Hedges Estate, Donnellys Bakery & Coffee Shop, Giant Tours, Glenarm Tourism, Glenhaven Holiday Accommodation, In the Mount Picture Framing & Gallery, Irish Feast (formally North Coast Walking Tours), Kinnalargy B&B, Laragh Lodge, Manor House Rathlin, Marine Hotel, McBrides Cushendun, McCollams Bar, Milliken Tours, Naturally Coast & Glens, Rathlin Island Ferry, Slemish Barn, The Irish Seaweed Company, The Londonderry Arms, Village B&B, Waters Edge B&B.