The other way to access Murlough and Fairhead is via the Torr Scenic Road, here you can drive to a car park above the bay, from which you can walk down into the bay or along the cliff top to Fairhead. It is advisable to park  as the road down is very narrow and in summer when two cars meet it can cause a problem. This area is perfect for walking and cars just destroy the natural ambience and scare the wildlife. I have walked several times to Murlough Bay from Ballycastle via the Grey Man's Path at Fair Head, many years ago now, as the joints are more reluctant to engage steep rock climbs.  The route is dangerous in places and you should be equipped with good footwear, rainwear and a mobile phone in case of difficulties.

 

I follow the beach from Ballycastle to what is mistakingly known as Marconi's cottage (now a glass eyesore) then on past the old coal mines to the end of the road. From here on it's  a track or pad known as the Grey Man's Path to Fair Head, the path finally ascends through a ravine known as the Grey Man's Gulley or McAnulty's Hall Door and onto the plateau above.  The impressive vertical dolerite columns are surrounded by scree slopes which go down to the waters edge where there are the boulders the size of small houses.Now there is a story about the Grey Man's Path and a Mary McAnulty who used it frequently.

 

The path from McAnulty's Hall Door crosses a moorland environment with some exceptional viewpoints. Linear scoring on the exposures of smooth glaciated rock reveal the source of this landscape. As the ice retreated some 10,000 years ago it formed the topography that we see today in the Glens of Antrim.  Murlough Bay is well known for its flora, fauna and geology, a curved limestone cliff protects one of the few remaining old 'natural' temperate woodlands in Ireland. Birch, Rowan and Hazel thrive in a micro-climate which contrasts with the barren moor land plateau above.

 

As you follow the lane down from the car park, you will come across a concrete plinth on the right hand side of the road with superb views over the bay and across to Scotland. This was originally a station of the cross on an ancient pilgrim's way from the old Church of Drumnakill. The plinth is what remains of a more recent cross which was erected on the site to commemorate Sir Roger Casement who was tried and executed for treason, espionage and sabotage against the Crown. While waiting execution in Pentonville prison he sent a letter to his cousin Gertrude Bannister in which he  wrote  'Take my body back with you and let it lie in the old churchyard in Murlough Bay'.  Roger Casement was a frequent visitor to Ballycastle, he stayed with relatives there and found a close affinity to the beauty and wildness of the location.

 

Murlough Bay is indeed a wonderful place for solitude and nature, buzzards and peregrine falcons hunt along the cliff tops while eider ducks and fulmars skirt the waves past the ruins of the old Church of Drumnakill, nearby is the burial site of a saint.

 

The ruins closer to Fair Head are those of colliery cottages which date back to a time when coal was mined and shipped from the Bay, the last coal left here in the 1850s'. Lime was also extracted, you'll find old lime kilns on the shore and also on the top road just before you start to descend into Murlough.  Fair Head is a majestic headland with vertical dolerite columns which rise 600 feet above sea level. From the top spectacular views can be had of Rathlin, Scotland and Murlough Bay. Fortunately you cannot drive there, it is a walk destination only either from Ballycastle, the Crannog or Murlough Bay. Those who take the time to walk to the headland will be rewarded with one of the most spectacular and inspiring vistas on the North Antrim coast.