North of Carrickfergus after Larne, the coast of County Antrim becomes spectacular—wave upon wave of high green hills, dotted with lush glens, curve down to the hazy sea among valleys carved out by glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age. Before you tackle the Glens, though, it’s worth considering a short detour from Larne to the nearby peninsula of Islandmagee where the newly reopened Gobbins path is a dramatic
cliff-face walk cut into the towering rock. Nine wooded river valleys occupy the 86 km (54 miles) between Larne and Ballycastle, the two largest towns in the Glens of Antrim. Until the building of the narrow coastal road in 1834, the Glens were home to isolated farming communities, whose residents adhered to the romantic, mystical Celtic legends and the everyday use of the Irish language. Steeped in Irish mythology, the Glens were first inhabited by small bands of Irish monks as early as AD 700. Some residents proudly note that Ossian, the greatest of the Celtic poets, is supposedly buried near Glenaan. The Glens are famed beauty spots and popular destinations: for tourist offices, head to the larger towns such as Larne, Ballymena, and Ballycastle. Cushendall’s tourist information office opens all day during the summer months and mornings only in the winter ( Mill St. 028/2177–1180). But Cushendun and Carnlough are extremely small and can't support tourist offices even in high season. McKillop's ( 14–16 Main St. 028/2888–5236), a shop in Carnlough, has leaflets describing local attractions, and the folks there are happy to give tips about the Glens. Also helpful is the Causeway Coast and Glens website.