Northern Ireland Steam Railway Holiday
The name of this holiday is punned on the “crack” Irish Express between Dublin and Belfast, which provides the perfect railway experience to begin and end this holiday, which in itself provides the ultimate tour of Ulster. All the scenic, cultural and transport highlights from the Mountains of Mourne to the Antrim Coast and the Giant’s Causeway are included in this outstanding trip. Not only that, a superb day, crossing the border, for steam and heritage railways in Eire as well – a great “craic”.
We meet at Holyhead in time for the afternoon sailing to Dublin Port. Here we have arranged for your luggage to be transported north so that you can enjoy to the full the journey between the two capitals aboard The Enterprise. TRAVEL IS IN FIRST CLASS AND INCLUDES YOUR EVENING MEAL EN ROUTE. A short journey to Dunadry should see us settled in by about 21.45.
There are so many lovely trips to make it is difficult to know where to start. Perhaps, after a late arrival on Thursday, we should stay “local” today. So, we’ll take a coach trip up to Larne, then rail via Whitehead, Carrickfergus and Belfast to Bangor. Near here we will have plenty of time for the main attraction of the day – the superb Ulster Folk and Transport Museum – truly one of the best of its type in the British Isles. Later we rail and coach back to Antrim.
We head for the border today, enjoying a scenic journey through the Sperrin Mountains en route to Fintown in Co Donegal. Enjoy lunch (included) then a loch side, and extremely rustic, rail ride with the Fintown Railway before we head to Londonderry. En route (sort of!) we will stop at Oakfield Park for the Difflin Lake Railway and some time to enjoy the estate’s beautiful gardens. From Londonderry we take NI Railways most scenic route back to Antrim.
Back to the station this morning for a rail journey from Antrim, via Belfast, to Lisburn – the finest surviving railway station in Northern Ireland. From here we are into Co Down to enjoy a couple of hours of scenic touring through the Mourne Mountains. The tour ends in Downpatrick where we find the inimitable Downpatrick and Co Down Railway. Special arrangements here will ensure we enjoy to the full the only standard (5’3”) gauge preserved railway in all Ireland. Our return journey to Antrim will be great fun because our day is not complete until we have visited Northern Ireland’s friendliest railway – The Belfast and County Down Miniature Railway – you’ll love it – Easter eggs here as well!!
Have we saved the best till last? – join us to find out as we head north by train to Portrush. From here our Antrim Coast Tour includes the Giant’s Causeway (a World Heritage Site), the reinstated Giant’s Causeway Tramway, the Bushmills Visitor Centre and the scary Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – optional of course! An outstanding finale tour stops at charming Carnlough for tea and homemade shortbread en route back to Antrim.
You will probably have been excited all week in anticipation of our return “Enterprise” to Dublin. Again it’s first class (of course), enjoying a full Irish Breakfast en route and in real comfort. Back in Dublin with a little time to spare we’ll do something in Eire before catching the early afternoon boat back to Holyhead.
The Dunadry Hotel and Country Club, Antrim
This quality 4 star hotel is built on the site of an ancient fort and is situated amid landscaped gardens. There is a pleasant restaurant, a lovely wood panelled bar, and the bedrooms are stylishly designed, spacious, and equipped with all the facilities you would expect from an international class hotel – no lift but ground floor rooms aplenty. There is also a leisure centre with swimming pool, sauna and steam room. Our evening dining here is from a table d’ hote menu, changing daily, and, to ensure quality of service and cuisine, will be at an agreed time according to each day’s itinerary.