Land of prehistoric wonder
At its closest point, County Antrim is only 12 miles from the Mull of Kintyre, and its coastline is both beautiful and geologically diverse. Alternating sandy bays, rocky shores, high cliffs and forbidding headlands produce a dramatic scenery. Inland, the beautiful wooded glens rise to meet dizzying moorland heights.
The complex coastal geology ranges from relatively recent volcanic activity several millennia ago – represented by the massive basalt moorland plateau – to the silvery schists in the northwest, which are about 250 million years older. It includes rocks laid down more than 500 million years ago on an ancient ocean floor, pudding-stone that was later a desert floor, a belt of coal formed out of a swampy delta, salt trapped in the stone 200 million years ago, and mudstones and limestones from the time of the dinosaurs. In between are rich red sandstones, grey clays and dazzling cliffs of white chalk. This fascinating mixture is best seen at Fair Head and Murlough Bay, where, in startling contrast, the chalk cliffs overlie the older red Triassic sandstones. The Antrim Coast and Glens were designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1988.