Rathlin Island

Cycling Route

Rathlin Island from Church Bay to the RSPB Seabird Centre.

At harbour choose: 1.) Go left, pass shop, turn right at church and ascend steeply to chapel or: 2.) Go right, pass Manor House and toilets, left at McCauig's Bar and left again at crossroads to chapel.

Route bears left and continues to ascend. With its height, there are good views to west - Donegal and north Antrim coast; to south - Ballycastle and FairHead; to east - East Lighthouse and Kintyre.

The road continues through heath and meadow to the nature reserves at the western end of the island. Take care to dismount at the second cattle grid. The road here becomes a rough, gravel track leading to spectacular views from the RSPB Seabird Centre.

Public roads: On Public Road

Getting to the start:
Rathlin Island Ferry Service from Ballycastle.
Tel 028 207 69299

Booking recommended

Route starts at arrival to Rathlin Harbour.

Traffic: Generally traffic is restricted to Islanders only, so apart from a minibus there are few cars and farm vehicles. Walkers also use this route and there may be cattle on the unfenced stretch through the nature reserve.

Nearest town:

Church Bay


8 miles

OS map:


Start Point:


Finish Point:



A steep ascent from the harbour in Church Bay, then fairly level, tarmac road for three miles. Dismount at the two cattle grids. Rough, unfenced, gravel track for final mile.

Point of interest:

Harbour side activities and amenities including Boathouse visitor centre. Emigration Memorial, with views to East Lighthouse, Kintyre, FairHead and Causeway Coast.
Cliff side, culitvated and grazed fields, provide habitat for Northern Ireland's only breeding pair of chough. Ancient meadows, rich in botanical interest are hidden havens for hares. A Neolithic quarry site, where Stone Age men extracted porcellanite for fashioning into tools and weapons is situated at the base of a rocky coutcrop in the middle of the island. Wheatears, stonechats and skylarks fill the air with sounds, while peregrines, buzzards and ravens watch for prey. The seabird colony, viewed from the RSPB Seabird Centre, is dramatically situated against cliffs and ocean swell.


Car parking at ferry terminal
Cycle hire on island 207 63954
Accommodation, refreshment and toilets at Church Bay.
Refreshments and toilets at the RSPB Seabird Centre.

Accessibility information:

Disabled badge holders may travel with vehicle to island.
Mainly public, tarmac road with rough gravel section at end (1 mile). Main viewing area at RSPB Seabird Centre is accessed by 87 steps, but scenic views of the seabird colony can be enjoyed from the road level.

Accessible toilet facilities:


Publication availability:

RSPB Northern Ireland Headquarters 028 9049 1547


RSPB 'Step Ashore' trail guide to the Rathlin Island Seabird Centre.

The nearest Tourist Information Centre is:

Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre
  • Free (parking charges may apply)
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