Kinbane Castle is full of drama. Its isolation. Its embattled remnants. Its surroundings. Kinbane stirred up a depth of emotion in me. Here’s the story why (keep reading to the end for practical tips of how to get there).
The wind blustered all around as I simultaneously skipped and staggered up to the farthest point on the narrow limestone promontory.
Arriving at the top, out of breath, I gazed back across the panorama before me.
The slight remains of Kinbane Castle, looking almost folorn in its isolation, on the isthmus below.
The Causeway Coast, sloping away to the left, lush green fields jutting up to cliff edges, with the tumultuous sea waiting in anticipation.
The sweeping bay to the right, crowded with black rocks formations; with the famous hexagonal pillars of Giant’s Causeway only a few miles to the West.
The cliff set back from the water’s edge here; water falling tens of metres over the cliff edge and cascading onto the expectant rocks.
I felt an embrace. Of the wind, of my emotions being captured in a perfect moment; of my boyfriend, who was hugging me tight to keep the force of the cold wind away.
Kinbane Castle location
Everything about Kinbane felt magical, from the moment we set foot out of our tiny Nissan Micra hire car, high above the luminous landscapes that awaited, hidden from the road above.
Waves of positivity bounded over me, as I – in turn – bounded down the cliff side on a seemingly never-ending stairway to the bay below; unaware of the landscape that awaited.
Rounding the cliff corner to the vista below me, I couldn’t stop smiling as the emotions seized my soul.
Only a few places in my life have almost moved me to tears with the sheer depth of feeling they’ve evoked. I can now add Kinbane to that privileged list.
(San Juan Chamula, Mexico, was another)
Enough of the fluff, now onto the practicalities …
How to get to Kinbane Castle, Northern Ireland
Kinbane Castle (free to visit) is just off the coast road between Ballycastle (around 3 miles East) and Ballintoy, on the Causeway Coastal Route. The easiest way to get there is by hire car; although if you plan it right there are infrequent local bus services (check your bus uses the coastal road rather than the inland road). From the car park, the walk to Kinbane Castle isn’t for you if your mobility is limited and/or if you prefer to avoid lots of steps.
Where to stay near Kinbane Castle
The small seaside town of Portrush was a fantastic base for a few days. Portrush has several pubs and a decent selection of restaurants, which were lively even in the middle of December!
[box type=”info”]We stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Portrush (££ discount off your first Airbnb stay with this link) and used the Lonely Planet Guide to Ireland for my trip. Help the site by using these links, at no extra cost to you.[/box]
There are also plenty of places to stay in and around Ballycastle, and of course near the famous Giant’s Causeway.
Other Northern Ireland Causeway Coast castles
Kinbane isn’t the only castle on the Causeway Coast. Dunseverick Castle (free) has barely a wall standing, but its situation on a jagged stretch of coast makes it worth a detour from the main road, if only to snap a few pictures.
More touristed, Dunluce Castle (entry £5), has a similarly spectacular setting, with drops from the drawbridge down to the crashing sea below. It’s all geared up with display boards and audio guides.
Kinbane Castle, my favourite Northern Ireland castle (so far)
If feeling were colours, then Kinbane Castle would be lush green joy. And other superlatives. Definitely my favourite Northern Ireland castle so far; but there are so many more to explore!