Carnlough | Cranny Falls | County Antrim | Northern Ireland

Updated On: November 27, 2023

Carnlough, Cranny Falls, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, harbor, boasts sailing beach

Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Northern Ireland, Carnlough and Cranny Falls stand as a testament to this region’s natural beauty. From its stunning coastal views to its lush greenery, this destination offers much for travellers seeking tranquillity and natural wonders. In this article, we will explore the enchanting Carnlough village and the breathtaking Cranny Falls, uncovering the history, beauty, and charm that make this location a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and explorers.

County Antrim: Where Natural Beauty Meets Rich History

County Antrim, located in the northeastern corner of Northern Ireland, is a region of striking natural beauty and historical significance. Known as the “Garden of Ireland” for its lush landscapes, it is renowned for its dramatic coastal scenery, which includes iconic attractions such as the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The county has abundant picturesque glens, rolling green hills, and pristine beaches that draw visitors worldwide. Its rugged coastline, rugged cliffs, and secluded coves offer opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring geological wonders. County Antrim is also home to vibrant towns and villages with unique charm and character, making it a diverse and welcoming destination for tourists.

Steeped in history, County Antrim boasts a rich cultural heritage that reflects its complex past. From ancient Celtic settlements to the influence of Norse invaders and the legacy of the Normans, the county’s historical tapestry is woven with stories of conquest, migration, and resilience. The Glens of Antrim, a series of nine picturesque valleys, are a testament to the enduring Gaelic traditions of the region and offer a glimpse into Ireland’s ancient past. In more recent history, County Antrim played a significant role in the turbulent period known as “The Troubles” but has since emerged as a place of peace and reconciliation. Today, visitors can explore historic sites, castles, and museums that provide insight into the county’s fascinating history while enveloping its people’s natural beauty and warmth.

Carnlough and Cranny Falls: A Year-Round Wonderland

The best time to visit Carnlough and Cranny Falls is from late spring to early autumn, roughly from May to September. During this period, the weather is generally mild and conducive to outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the falls. The lush greenery of Glenballyeamon Forest surrounding Cranny Falls is at its most vibrant during these months, providing a picturesque backdrop to the cascading waterfalls.

Moreover, the village of Carnlough comes alive with events and activities during the summer, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture and enjoy the coastal charm. While Northern Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable, this window offers the best chance to experience the region’s natural beauty and cultural richness with pleasant weather conditions.

A Glimpse into Carnlough Village

Carnlough, a quaint coastal village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is a hidden gem that offers a delightful blend of natural beauty and historical significance. With a population of just over 1,500, it exudes a peaceful atmosphere that attracts visitors seeking a serene escape.

Historical Significance

Carnlough boasts a rich history that dates back to the 18th century when it was founded as a fishing village. Its name, “Carnlough,” is believed to originate from the Irish words “Carn” and “Locha,” which mean “cairn of the lake.” This hints at the village’s proximity to the picturesque Carnlough Bay and the Lough (lake).

Picturesque Harbor

One of the village’s highlights is its charming harbour, a hub for fishing and maritime activities for centuries. Today, it provides a captivating scene with colourful boats bobbing gently in the waters. Stroll along the quay and enjoy the maritime heritage of this coastal village.

Iconic Pubs

Carnlough is not only known for its natural beauty but also for its warm and welcoming hospitality. The village is home to iconic Irish pubs, where you can savour traditional Irish cuisine and enjoy live music performances. It’s an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Architecture and Landmarks

The village features a mix of architectural styles, with Georgian and Victorian buildings interspersed among more modern structures. Carnlough’s unique character is epitomized by the Londonderry Arms Hotel, a historic inn that dates back to the 17th century.

Cranny Falls: A Natural Wonder

A short distance from Carnlough lies the captivating Cranny Falls, a stunning natural attraction that promises an enchanting experience amidst lush woodlands and glistening waters.

Access and Hiking Trails

Cranny Falls is conveniently accessible from Carnlough Village, making it a perfect day trip for nature enthusiasts. A network of well-maintained hiking trails winds through the Glenballyeamon Forest, leading visitors to the falls. The courses offer a moderate level of difficulty, making them suitable for both novice and experienced hikers.

Cascading Beauty

As you hike deeper into the forest, the soothing sound of flowing water gradually becomes more pronounced. The main attraction, Cranny Falls, is a series of cascading waterfalls that descend gracefully through the forest. The falls are remarkably breathtaking after a heavy rain when the water flows more vigorously.

Biodiversity and Flora

Cranny Falls is a visual delight and a haven for biodiversity. The forest surrounding the falls is home to diverse flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for native plants, including ferns and mosses, and various bird species that inhabit the area.

Tranquil Ambiance

One of the most enchanting aspects of Cranny Falls is its tranquil ambience. Surrounded by the verdant forest, the falls create a peaceful atmosphere that allows visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Many find it an ideal spot for meditation, photography, or simply unwinding amidst nature’s beauty.

Picnic Spots

Within the forest, you’ll find several designated picnic areas to relax and enjoy a meal amidst the serene surroundings. Pack a picnic basket and savour the natural beauty of Cranny Falls while indulging in a leisurely outdoor meal.

Preservation and Conservation

The beauty of Carnlough and Cranny Falls is a testament to the importance of preserving our natural heritage. Efforts have been made to protect this stunning location, with conservation programs in place to maintain the ecosystem’s delicate balance. Visitors are encouraged to follow responsible hiking practices and adhere to Leave No Trace principles to ensure that future generations can enjoy the area’s pristine beauty.

Exploring the Rich Tapestry of Attractions Near Carnlough and Cranny Falls

Carnlough and Cranny Falls are nestled in a region of Northern Ireland that offers a wealth of attractions and points of interest for travellers to explore. Here are some notable attractions nearby:

  1. Giant’s Causeway: Located approximately an hour’s drive from Carnlough, the Giant’s Causeway is a natural wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features thousands of interlocking basalt columns resulting from ancient volcanic activity. Visitors can take guided tours and learn about this iconic site’s geological history and folklore.
  2. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge: This thrilling attraction is around an hour from Carnlough. It spans a 20-meter chasm and offers breathtaking views of the coastline. Crossing the bridge is an exhilarating experience and an excellent spot for photography.
  3. Dunluce Castle: Just a short drive from Carnlough, Dunluce Castle is a medieval ruin perched dramatically on a cliff overlooking the sea. Explore the castle’s history, including tales of pirates and battles, while enjoying the panoramic views.
  4. The Dark Hedges: Approximately 40 minutes from Carnlough, this enchanting avenue of beech trees is famous for its appearance in the popular TV series “Game of Thrones.” The trees create a captivating, atmospheric setting perfect for a stroll and photography.
  5. Rathlin Island: Located off the coast of County Antrim, Rathlin Island is a short ferry ride away. It offers rugged landscapes, birdwatching opportunities, and a tranquil escape from the mainland.
  6. Glenariff Forest Park: Known as the “Queen of the Glens,” Glenariff is one of the Glens of Antrim and offers picturesque walking trails with waterfalls and stunning viewpoints. It’s only a short drive from Carnlough.
  7. Bushmills Distillery: Whiskey enthusiasts can visit the Bushmills Distillery, one of the oldest licensed distilleries in the world, to learn about the whiskey-making process and enjoy tastings. It’s located not far from the Giant’s Causeway.
  8. Ballycastle: This charming seaside town is approximately 30 minutes from Carnlough and offers a pleasant promenade, sandy beaches, and a relaxed atmosphere.
  9. Cushendun: A picturesque village on the Antrim coast, Cushendun is known for its quaint architecture and caves used as filming locations in “Game of Thrones.” It’s a short drive from Carnlough.

These nearby attractions complement the natural beauty of Carnlough and Cranny Falls, offering a diverse range of experiences for travellers looking to explore the wonders of Northern Ireland’s Antrim coast. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor adventures, or simply soaking in the stunning scenery, there’s something for everyone in this captivating region.


Carnlough and Cranny Falls are a harmonious blend of history and natural beauty that beckon travelers to explore their wonders. From the charming harbour and historic pubs of Carnlough village to the serene woodlands and cascading waterfalls of Cranny Falls, this destination offers an array of experiences for all who visit.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Carnlough and Cranny Falls in Northern Ireland will captivate your heart and soul. Take advantage of the opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquil ambience and enchanting landscapes of this hidden gem on the Emerald Isle.


Are there restaurants and pubs in Carnlough?

  • Yes, Carnlough has several restaurants and pubs where you can enjoy traditional Irish cuisine and beverages. The village’s hospitality scene allows one to savour local dishes and experience live music performances.

Is there a visitor centre in Carnlough for information and maps?

  • While Carnlough may not have a dedicated visitor centre, you can find visitor centres in nearby towns like Ballycastle or Ballymena, which can provide information, maps, and guidance for exploring the region, including Carnlough and Cranny Falls.

Are there guided tours available in Carnlough and Cranny Falls?

  • While there may not be specific guided tours for Carnlough and Cranny Falls, local tour operators often offer tours of the broader Antrim coast, including these attractions; you can inquire about such tours at visitor centres or regional tour agencies.