Marlagh Lodge Ballymena, Co. Antrim
Marlagh Lodge is only thirty miles from the bustle of Belfast, yet is within easy reach of the glorious Glens of Antrim, Glenariff Forest Park, the famed rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede and, slightly further afield, the renowned Giant’s Causeway–one of the wonders of the natural world. The lodge was built in the 1850’s and has recently been thoroughly and comfortably restored by its present owners, Robert and Rachel Thompson, both professional musicians. Rachel is a wonderful cook and breakfast is a feast of home-baked breads, fruits and porridge, along with the traditional Ulster Fry – all made with the finest local produce.
Though in a rural setting, Marlagh Lodge is actually very close to Belfast, which can be reached in a drive of less than 30 minutes, yet a short drive in the opposite direction takes you to some of Northern Ireland’s finest natural environments, and its most important buildings. You can visit the stunning North Antrim coast and see the famous Giant’s Causeway, one of the wonders of the natural world; the beautiful Mussenden Temple, perched precariously on the top of a cliff, and the splendid ruins of Downhill and the precipitous rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede.
Visitors to the Antrim Glens can hike in Glenariff Forest Park, with its dramatic waterfalls, and visit the picturesque village of Cushendun, with its centre designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis of Portmerion fame, or the fairytale castle at Glenarm. Nearer at hand is the round tower at Antrim town, the nearby ruins of 17th century Antrim castle and Shane’s Castle, a few miles further on. And, if you are prepared to travel a little further from Marlagh Lodge Ballymena, many more of the National Trust’s wonderful country houses and gardens are within reach. Golfers will find the course at Royal Portrush is worth the drive, although there are also a number of other excellent courses in the Ballymena area.