We’ve been here only once before.
And it was raining.
Look. 👇 Can you even tell that’s a red jacket? :)
So, with being just 20 minutes away at Straidkilly (check out that adventure here) and the Autumn sun looking like it would be sticking round for a while, we made the dash to Slemish.
…and as you can probably tell by this article’s cover pic, it was SO worth it. ☀️
HOW TO GET THERE
Slemish mountiain sits almost dead-centre in the middle of County Antrim - about halfway between Ballymena and Larne on the coast ‘as the crow flies’.
It’ll take you around 40 minutes to get there from Belfast and 1 hour 15 minutes from Derry~L’Derry.
Once you’re in the surrounding area, the brown signs will guide you to the car park, where you will start the walk.
There are good toilet facilities in the car park, should you need.
And great little sign points, with info on what to look for on the mountain and area around.
Did you know this is where Saint Patrick first lived, working as a Shepherd? Now you do.
Just a short walk out of the the car park and the views are already incredible.
Slemish is only around half the height of Northern Ireland’s highest mountain Slieve Donard - but with the fairly flat land around, you can see for miles and miles.
The car park you left from is on the western side of the mountain, so your initial views will be towards Broughshane, Ballymena and onwards towards Lough Neagh and the Sperrin Mountains.
“Always close gates behind you“, says Max.
There are sheep in the surrounding fields - so you’ll also need to keep dogs on leads.
(Max’s lead is draped behind him, like a Superman cape, in the pics above by the way 👍)
About two-thirds of the way up and the views are getting even better...
And then at the top…
Just in time to watch the sun setting.
Heading over to the other side at the top, you’ll see rolling hills which stretch east, right out to the coast.
About 15 miles away in the distance are the towns of Carnlough and Glenarm, where we came from earlier.
^ That’s what a Slemish shadow looks like.
Check out the drone shots below - can you see the red and white dots?
Really gives you a sense of scale from above!
Like the Straidkilly Trail earlier (even more-so actually) you’ll definitely need sturdy footwear with a decent grip.
The path up the side of Slemish is all natural, with rocks, loose soil and lots of bushes. If it’s been raining at all in the week before, expect muck and small streams too.
The ascent from the car park is about 180m, which you can get up and down in around an hour at steady pace. Best to leave yourself about 2-3 hours though, to take it easy.
As soon as the sun set, we knew we had to make our way down fairly sharpish. Even with a decent bit of light left in the day, it was a bit tricky seeing where the path actually was!
At some points we had to shuffle on our bums as the ground was so slippy from the rain the day before. 🙈
Bring a backpack with snacks and water, as well as a few extra layers of clothing - just in case.
And again, definitely leave plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular views on all sides!