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Glenariff Waterfalls walks first opened to the public in 1889 as a railway ‘special attraction’ managed by the Northern Counties Railway and accessed by train from Ballymena to Parkmore and then a ride in a jaunting car. The Ess-na-Larach Tea House opened in 1891 and its successor, Laragh Lodge restaurant, still operates on the same site today.
Tourism from Ireland and Great Britain was fundamental to the business of the Northern Counties Railway, and Glenariff Glen, along with the Giant’s Causeway and the Gobbins path, were its core visitor attractions. In the inter-war period over 30,000 visitors a year made the journey here via the Ballymena – Parkmore railway, terminating at the highest train station in Ireland.
I have called this route ‘Glenariff Mountain and Glens’ as much of it runs above the forest tree line at over 800 feet and affords some of the best high walking views to be had in the Glens of Antrim. It also visits both branches of the upper Glenariff, follows the route of the first narrow gauge railway in Ireland (the mineral railway) and ends by climbing past the spectacular waterfalls, which first brought the Victorian visitors here 130 years ago.Continue reading