near Mountjoy, Northern Ireland (United Kingdom)
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This part of the Ulster Way is mainly on quiet roads through farmland, forest tracks in large conifer plantations and some pathless sections over moorland bog. Most is easy walking but crossing the bogs is more difficult and using a GPS track is recommended. There are some mountains to climb and the route is along hilly landscape but there are not sustained climbs. Villages on the way including Gortin, Moneyneaney, Dungiven and Castlerock with shops and other facilities. This part ends at the town of Coleraine.
More details in my blog: https://johnpone2.blogspot.com/search/label/Ulster%20Way
The previous part of the Ulster Way is at https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/ulster-way-part-1-belcoo-to-mellon-country-inn-102545205 , the next section is at https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/ulster-way-part-3-and-the-causeway-coast-path-121259357.
Barnes Gap is a notch in a ridge where several roads meet. The Ulster Way uses it to cross from one side of the ridge to the other.
Benbradagh is a mountain. Although the Ulster Way climbs up the south side of it on a road, it does not go up to the summit.
A sandy beach greets you at Castlerock, a village with toilets and various cafes.
Coleraine Railway Station
I ended this part of the Ulster Way at the train station in the town of Coleraine. In the centre there are all the facilities you could want, a change after all the smaller settlements on the Ulster Way.
Crockbrack Mountain camping spot
Crockbrack mountain commands a beautiful view. Much of the way up was on pathless moor, however, there was a track on the way down. I camped on the downward slope, a perfect spot to admire the scenery.
It is a steep climb up Donald's Hill however the view is worth the effort. Over the hill and beyond paths are intermittent, a GPS track helps you to navigate over the heather and bog.
Sea Shed café in Downhill Forest
The Sea Shed Cafe was very welcome after two days without a coffee. I drank my latte to the sound of peacocks. The establishment was aimed at surfers with boards available.
A village on the Ulster Way with supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and limited accommodation.
Goles Standing Stones
A line of standing stones around 4,000 years old, just beside the road which the Ulster Way follows.
A village with a convenience store (with a coffee machine) and bar.
Gortin Glen Forest Park
Gortin Forest Park has a car park, cafe, play area, various trails, a waterfall, stream and many coniferous trees.
Two lakes with reeds where people were bathing. There is a car park.
Lost Ulster Way signs
Workmen were out installing new posts with Ulster Way and International Appalachian Trail waymarks on them. The route they were marking was different to the one on my GPS. I followed the new waymarks for a while but then lost them (probably because they were still being installed), so my route is a mixture of new and old routes through the Gortin Forest.
There was a shrine here and logs laid out as benches by a cross. Religious ceremonies presumably took place here. I was reminded of the Mass rocks, used to hold Roman Catholic services at a time they were banned. However, this was centuries ago and the current objects are much newer.
I stayed at this campsite, a few kilometres off the Ulster Way where it passes through Gortin. Nearby sand martins can be seen together with the holes they live in on the earth cliffs beside a small river.
Mellon Country Inn Hotel
Convenient place to stay and/or eat just off the Ulster Way. There is little other formal accommodation nearby.
A village with a shop on the Ulster Way.
Route through Downhill Demesne, a National Trust property
Officially the Ulster Way follows the road to Castlerock, but a far more attractive route is through Downhill Demesne, a National Trust property. No payment is required to walk down the wooded glen then up over the valley side to Castlerock.
A scenic viewpoint with car park and steps. I could see as far as the Scottish islands as well as the mouth of Lough Foyle and the Binevenagh cliffs to the south.