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Rathlin Island Review
From Ballycastle town you have a view of L-shaped Rathlin Island, where in 1306 the Scottish king Robert the Bruce took shelter in a cave (under the east lighthouse) and, according to the popular legend, was inspired to continue his armed struggle against the English by watching a spider patiently spinning its web. It was on Rathlin in 1898 that Guglielmo Marconi set up the world's first cross-water radio link, from the island's lighthouse to Ballycastle. Hiking and bird-watching—watch for the Atlantic nomads: choughs, puffins, guillemots, and razorbills nesting on the cliffs and sea stacks in the summer—are the island's main activities. The Boathouse Visitor Centre (028/2076–2024) houses a collection of photographs, tools, and implements from the island's past. The center is open from April through mid-September, and admission is free. A high-speed double-decker catamaran, the M.V. Rathlin Express, cuts the 10-km (6-mile) journey time crossing over the Sea of Moyle to 25 minutes; from July to September it runs six round-trips daily (£11.60; reservations 24 hours ahead essential). Unless the sea is extremely rough, the M.V. Canna ferryboat also makes four daily round trips (£11.60, reservations also essential). This more leisurely trip can take up to 45 minutes; be mindful of the weather to ensure that you can return on the same day. The last return to Ballycastle is at 4:15 pm for the Rathlin and 5:30 pm for the Canna.
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