“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”
W B Yeats
Nestled in the mystical Glens of Antrim, ‘Ronan’s Way’ proved to be a fabulous day out. Well, that was my view last Saturday (27 Jan 2018) after a strenuous hike on the red ‘upper loop’ trail with a group of seven seasoned hill walking enthusiasts.
Without a doubt, Ronan’s Way is at a stunning location in the heart of scenic Glendun and a wonderful memorial to celebrate the life of Ronan McAuley. Enormous thanks to the McAuley family for sharing their dreams and trail with us. We had a truly great hike and will definitely be back.
“Finding peace through nature”
Ronan’s Way is a relatively new walk, on private farmland, that’s still under construction but if you are comfortable with a challenge and prepared to go ‘off piste’ a little you will be well rewarded. Be warned though, the red loop trail is roughly 10km, not 5km which has been reported in some brochures online. We completed it comfortably in 2 – 2.5 hours, which includes the essential “pass the oxygen” breaks!
The going was definitely ‘lung buster’ steep especially for us city types but the challenge was definitely worth it for the fantastic views of Glendun and a horizon that stretched all the way to the Western Coast of Scotland.
The shorter blue path accompanies the red route for the steepest part of the climb on a trail that takes you past old farmhouses, picturesque ruins and the McAuley family heritage. So don’t think if you decide to go blue that you’re off the hook, you’re not, there’ll definitely be a climb in it for you too.
We started our walk along the western trail (on the right hand side of the car park) which brought us along the River Glendun and then up onto the blue and red trails.
Once the reds leave the blue path the terrain quickly becomes heavy going under foot, especially in January after heavy rain. Every step is a wobbly lunge forward so it’s definitely a two pole day and full wet gear and gaiters are strongly recommended to navigate your way through the classic peat bog, heather, reeds, burrows and impromptu streams. Completely invigorating!
The red trail is not well signed at present and relies heavily on tall white posts which disappear into the landscape. It got a bit confusing at times but we could see attempts to improve this are underway. The posts acted as our primary guide but the icy weather had taken most of the signage discs off the posts so don’t rely on them for arrows to point your way, best to treat them more as trail indicators. I suspect this will be fixed over the months ahead but luckily we had a map with us which helped to reassure our group as we went along. Once we got to the top we followed the farmlands perimeter fence as best we could until we finally made our way down via a knee bending two pole decent on a tractor track, eventually rejoining the blue trail back to the car park.
We will definitely return this summer. I bet the views will be simply outstanding then …and next time I’m bringing my favourite M&S pork pies …I’ll definitely earn them!