A fantastic combination of spectacular views, fun activities for all the family, a ‘super-charged market’ and even some traditional entertainment will be on offer as hundreds trek up Slemish Mountain this St Patrick’s Day.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE is urging locals to tackle the trek: “Almost everyone can enjoy this challenging hike along the slopes where the Saint reputedly tended sheep.
“Reward yourself with one of the most beautiful sights around – many miles of rolling countryside in every direction and great views across large areas of County Antrim – by taking part in this now well established annual trek.”
To promote the event, the Mayor joined Sandy Wilson from Broughshane and District Community Association and Dawn McKeown from Raceview Mill, Broughshane to admire some traditional Shamrock which will be available at the event.
Following the huge success of the St Patrick’s Day event at Slemish in the past, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is once again providing a park and ride facility for ease of access.
As with last year, Raceview Mill, Broughshane will be the hub for the event and visitors can visit the enhanced ‘super-charged’ market and enjoy freshly baked goodies in the onsite coffee shop - from fruit scones to homemade Irish stew.
The Mayor explained: “Each year numbers visiting have grown dramatically with expectation of up to 3,000 visitors to the site in 2017.
“We are in fact planning a great day out for all the family, including those too young or not able to make it up the mountain,” she added.
With Broughshane and District Community Association also getting involved this year, and many of the businesses providing special offers on the day, there’s lots to do either as well as – or instead of – the trek itself.
The local economy will have a boost too since shops and eateries at Raceview Mill and on Broughshane Main Street will be busy with special offers on the day, so visitors can enjoy a little ‘retail therapy’ too.
The buses from Raceview Mill to Slemish will be stopping in Broughshane to permit visitors to depart the buses in the village to shop and enjoy the friendly welcome.
“Visitors can get off in Broughshane village - ‘Ireland’s Best Kept Town 2016’ - and sample some of the 40 outlets and services. The Community Association has also organised entertainment – and there’s always the unique wildfowl pond, easily accessed from the Main Street.
“At Raceview Mill there will be an excellent food and craft market, ‘super-charged’ with live entertainment, art displays, storytelling and a free ‘Kidszone’ including lots of fun and activities for the little ones – all indoors ensuring a great day even if the sun doesn’t shine,” Cllr Wales added.
Also, for those who would enjoy an easier trek than climbing Slemish, a gentle riverside walk from Raceview Mill takes visitors past the Raceview Hedgehog Habitat and the stunning Broughshane wildlife pond to Houston’s Mill.
There are numerous ways to access the mountain. Visitors can park at Raceview Mill itself, Buckna Presbyterian Church car park and Buckna Gospel Hall car park.
Park & Ride services will run continually from Raceview Mill, between 9.00am and 2.00pm and Buckna Car parks from 9.00am and 3.00pm.
Visitors should be aware that dogs are not permitted on the buses.
Last coaches will return from Slemish from 4.00pm. There is a small charge for this service - adults £2.00, children £1.50 from Raceview Mill and adults £1.50, children £1.00 from Buckna. Children under five-years go free. Under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult.
Only disabled badge holders will be allowed to park at Slemish car park (limited parking) and no parking will be permitted along the Carnstroan Road or the Carnstroan Lane approach to the Mountain.
General parking is otherwise only available at Raceview Mill and Buckna car parks and for anyone using the shuttle service.
The walk takes approximately one hour up and down, or more, depending on taking rest breaks. Suitable clothing and footwear are necessary to enjoy the best St Patrick’s experience.
This project has received support from The Executive Office through Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Good Relations Programme.
The event has also received community support from the PSNI, North West Mountain Rescue Team and Buckna Presbyterian Church and Buckna Gospel Hall.