Cushendun Caves – Cushendun: An Impressive Location Close to Ballymena, County Antrim

Cushendun Caves - Cushendun, Impressive Location close to Ballymena, County Antrim

Updated On: May 25, 2024 by   Salma IhabSalma Ihab

Nestled along the scenic coastline of County Antrim in Northern Ireland, the Cushendun Caves hold a mesmerising charm steeped in natural beauty and historical significance. Formed over millions of years by the relentless force of the sea, these caves present a captivating spectacle of geological wonder. Beyond their natural allure, the Cushendun Caves are steeped in local folklore and history, serving as silent witnesses to the passage of time and the stories of the people who have inhabited this area through the ages.

In recent years, the Cushendun Caves have gained international fame as a filming location for popular TV series and movies, most notably the acclaimed Game of Thrones series. This connection to pop culture has added a layer of modern mythos to the caves, drawing fans and tourists who wish to follow in their favourite characters’ footsteps. The allure of the Cushendun Caves, blending the ancient and the contemporary, makes them a must-visit destination for those exploring the rich tapestry of Northern Ireland’s natural and cultural heritage.

Historical Background

The Cushendun Caves, located in the small coastal village of Cushendun in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, are renowned for their striking geological formations and rich historical context.

Geological Formation

  • Origin: The Cushendun Caves were formed over 400 million years ago. Their creation is primarily attributed to the intense weathering and erosion by the sea, which gradually carved out the caves from the soft, chalky limestone rock.
  • Unique Features: These caves are characterised by their smooth and rounded interiors resulting from the constant action of waves and tidal movements. The erosion process has also led to the creation of distinctive shapes and patterns on the walls of the caves, making them a subject of interest for geologists and nature enthusiasts alike.

Historical and Cultural Significance

Cushendun Caves are an essential part of Irish culture and heritage. They symbolise the resilience of the Irish people and have been featured in many works of Irish literature and folklore.

Ancient Times

The area around Cushendun has been inhabited since early times, with evidence of human activity dating back to the Neolithic period. These early settlers might have used the natural caves for shelter or as part of their religious practices.

Medieval History

During the medieval period, the area around Cushendun was strategically important. It is conceivable that the caves, given their hidden and secure location, could have been used for various purposes, including as a shelter or a hiding place.

Local Folklore

The caves and the surrounding area are steeped in local myths and legends, often involving stories of smugglers and maritime adventures, reflecting the area’s historical connection with the sea.

Modern Era

Recently, Cushendun has developed into a quaint, picturesque village. The caves have become a point of interest for their natural beauty and association with popular culture, particularly as a filming location for Game of Thrones.

Cultural Impact

The fame as a filming location has brought a new wave of tourism to Cushendun, impacting the local economy and culture. This has renewed interest in preserving these natural formations and the surrounding landscapes.

Thus, the Cushendun Caves represent more than just a marvel of nature; they serve as a testament to the intricate mosaic of human history and cultural development in Northern Ireland. This captivating fusion of natural splendour and historical narratives underpins their lasting charm, establishing them as a critical feature in the area’s cultural legacy.

Game of Thrones

The Cushendun Caves gained significant recognition as a filming location for the globally popular television series Game of Thrones. The natural, rugged beauty of these caves and their mysterious and ancient ambience made them an ideal setting for several scenes in the series.

Sir Davos Seaworth and Lady Melisandre landed ashore in season 2 in these caves. They are also where Lady Melisandre gave birth to the creepy baby creature (we all remember the horror!). The caves made their third appearance in season 8 during the famed fight between Jaime Lannister and Euron Greyjoy. There is an information board at the cave entrance which explains more about these iconic scenes and the filming that took place there.

Nearby Attractions of Cushendun Caves

The area surrounding Cushendun Caves, nestled in the picturesque Glens of Antrim in Northern Ireland, is rich in attractions and points of interest. Let’s explore some of these here.

Cushendun Beach

Cushendun Caves - Cushendun, Impressive Location close to Ballymena, County Antrim
Cushendun Beach

Cushendun Beach is a popular spot for those visiting Cushendun Caves or Cushendun Village to wind off and maybe grab a bite. It is one of the most popular beaches, just a one-hour drive from Belfast. This beach offers stunning views of the sea and the surrounding landscape, as it is backed by grassy dunes and rocky outcrops, adding to its picturesque setting.

The beach is known for its clean, golden sands and gentle waters, making it an ideal spot for families. It’s an excellent place for children to play and for adults to relax and enjoy the serene environment.

For nature enthusiasts, we haven’t forgotten you! The area around the beach is rich in wildlife, providing opportunities for birdwatching and spotting other coastal species.

Cushendun Beach is also an idyllic location for various activities, ideally suited for those seeking relaxation and adventure. It’s a beautiful spot for strolls, where visitors can explore the captivating coastline or simply bask in the panoramic views of the North Channel. The beach’s picturesque backdrop, especially during the golden hours of sunrise or sunset, makes it a favourite haunt for photography enthusiasts. Its tranquil ambience, characterised by the soothing waves and fresh sea air, creates an ideal setting for picnics, allowing visitors to unwind and enjoy the serene environment.

Cushendall

Cushendun Caves - Cushendun, Impressive Location close to Ballymena, County Antrim

If you’re looking for a place to explore nearby, then the little town of Cushendall is the right stop. 

Cushendall is part of the mesmerising Causeway Coastal Route. A serene drive along the county’s northern coast and through the nine Glens of Antrim may be just what you need to relax and wind off. There are also endless things to do and visit in Cushendall. 

The first thing on our list is Cushendall Beach. It is a small, cosy beach perfect for morning strolls and picnics. 

Another thing to look forward to is the annual heart of the Glens festival! It is a yearly festival that the town has held since 1990. The events and activities are something to stay in Cushendall for. 

In the south of Cushendall, you will find Gelnariff Forest Park. This is the perfect place to get lost amongst the greeny leaves. It’s just a 10-minute drive from Cushendall and a 20-minute drive from Cushendun. 

Now for the best part about Cushendall—the Glens of Antrim! Cushendall is located right between the Nine Glens of Antrim. It is often considered the heart of the Glens! The area’s outstanding natural beauty will astonish you and make you want to return. 

Our next stop is Red Bay Castle. The ruins of Red Bay Castle lie along the Coast Road in the lovely Cushendall. The first Red Bay Castle is believed to have been built in the 13th century. However, the present remains seem to be from a castle built in the 16th century by Sir James McDonnell. 

Torr Head

Torr Head is a rugged and scenic headland located on the northeastern coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is renowned for its breathtaking views and unique geographical position, making it a must-visit destination for those exploring the Antrim Coast.

Torr Head, perched high above the sea on the Northern Irish coast, has exceptional beauty and rich historical significance. From this unique vantage point, the closest land to Scotland in Northern Ireland, visitors on a clear day can gaze across the Irish Sea and see the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland, merely 12 miles away.

The area is a tapestry of history, with the remnants of an old coastguard station and the ruins of Altagore Cashel, a fort dating back 2,000 years, enriching its historical narrative. This strategic maritime position and breathtaking views make Torr Head a remarkable and memorable destination.

Local Eateries and Accommodations

Near Cushendun Caves, visitors can find a range of local eateries and accommodations that offer a taste of Northern Irish hospitality and cuisine. Here are some notable options:

Local Eateries

  1. Mary McBride’s Bar: Located in the heart of Cushendun village, this is one of the most miniature bars in Ireland and offers a cosy atmosphere. It’s perfect for enjoying traditional Irish meals and a pint of Guinness. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, check out this pub. You will find a Game of Thrones door that tells the story of season 6!
  2. The Corner House National Trust: This cafe is across from Mary McBride’s pub. Their coffee is excellent, and well-known for their delicious cakes and tasty breakfasts. It is a perfect spot for brunch, but they also have great options for a heavy meal!
  3. Harry’s Restaurant: In Cushendall, Harry’s provides a range of options, including traditional Irish dishes, making it a favourite for locals and tourists.

Accommodations

  1. The Glens Hotel: This comfortable hotel in Cushendall offers easy access to the local attractions, including Cushendun Caves.
  2. Cullentra House: This charming bed and breakfast in Cushendall offers stunning views, warm hospitality, and comfortable rooms, making it an excellent base for exploring the area.
  3. Glenn Eireann House B&B: Situated near Cushendun, this B&B, set in a scenic location, is known for its friendly service and comfortable accommodations.
  4. Cloneymore B&B: Located in Cushendun, this B&B provides a homey atmosphere with easy access to the caves and the beach.

These local eateries and accommodations near Cushendun Caves offer a wonderful blend of comfort, local flavours, and Irish charm, enhancing the overall experience of your visit to this scenic part of Northern Ireland.

Cushendun Caves - Cushendun, Impressive Location close to Ballymena, County Antrim

The Cushendun Caves, nestled along the stunning coastline of Northern Ireland, offer a unique blend of natural beauty, historical intrigue, and cultural significance. Formed over millions of years, these caves present a breathtaking spectacle of geological wonder, their interiors carved by the relentless force of the sea. Beyond their natural allure, the caves are steeped in local folklore and have gained international fame as a filming location for the Game of Thrones series, adding a layer of modern mythos.

Visitors to the Cushendun Caves are treated to an experience that transcends time, where the ancient and the contemporary merge. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a fan of the series, the caves provide a captivating journey into a world where every crevice and contour tells a story.

As you plan to visit the Cushendun Caves, we encourage you to embrace the spirit of preservation and respect for this natural wonder. Tread lightly, leave no trace, and immerse yourself in this remarkable site’s majestic beauty and serene atmosphere. The Cushendun Caves are not just a destination but a testament to nature’s enduring power and mystery awaiting your discovery.

FAQs

What is the location of Cushendun Caves?

The Cushendun Caves are located in the small coastal village of Cushendun, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Specifically, they can be found at the edge of the village, near the mouth of the River Dun. The caves are situated along the coastline, facing the Irish Sea.

How to reach Cushendun Caves?

To reach the Cushendun Caves, visitors typically travel to the village of Cushendun, which is accessible via the A2 road, a major route along the Northern Irish coast. The village itself is well-signposted and is a known tourist destination, partly due to the fame of the caves.

Are there fees for visiting Cushendun Caves?

Nope. These caves are freely accessible to the public, with no entry fees, making them an ideal spot for travellers and nature enthusiasts on any budget.

What is the best time of year to visit the Cushendun Caves?

For the best experience, consider visiting during the late spring or early summer months when the weather is milder, and the area’s natural beauty is in full bloom.

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