Binevenagh, Limavady, BT49
Take a scenic drive along Binevenagh and explore the panoramic views along Binevenagh Mountain and Lake. Marking the western extent of the Antrim Plateau, Binevenagh Mountain was formed 60 million years ago by molten lava. The steep cliffs stretching over six miles, providing a stunning backdrop of panoramic views across the peninsula of Magilligan and dominating the skyline over the villages of Bellarena, Downhill, Castlerock and Benone beach. The surrounding slopes are home to a number of rare alpine plants and birds.
Classified as both an Area of Special Scientific Interest and as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the north coast is visible on a good day, as is Scotland.
The Bishops Road, named after the Bishop of Derry, extends across the plateau. Notable features include the Mussenden Temple and a cliff top viewing area on the Bishop’s Road giving good views over Lough Foyle and County Donegal.
For those wishing to embark on an endeavour of the mountain, it is recommended to park up on Leighry Road, adjacent to a sharp bend. Opposite is a gate leading into the forest, follow this path and take the first track to the left. Follow this uphill for 1.5 km, turn right onto the forest road and head for the summit of Binevenagh. Pass the west side of the trout stocked artificial lake, then head north west towards the cliff edge.
Binevenagh Lake, at the top of the mountain, is an artificial lake set in a forest area and overlooks Benone Strand.
The fishery can be very exposed in inclement weather and anglers should be appropriately dressed. Due to increasing demand in this tourist area, the lake is stocked regularly with up to 2000 rainbow trout, some of which weigh between 1 to 2.5 kg. Disabled access. Permits required for angling and can be purchased in any tackle shop.
Gliding is a popular activity with members of the Ulster Guiding Club regularly filling the skies above.
Fishing on the artificial lake at the top of the mountain is popular also, especially for trout fishing.
During the monthly of July the local Coleraine and District Motor Club run the Eagles Rock hill climbing event.
Life and Legend
Magilligan must have the greatest contrasts on the Coast Road. The flat expanse of sand is almost at sea level and then the mountains rise almost vertically to 300 metres.
Binevenagh comes from the Irish meaning Foibhne’s (pronounced FOVNEES) peak. Foibhne, The Celtic Chief Taircheltar (pronounced TARE – KELTAR) had a son called Foibhne who was killed on the mountain. The mountains are the western extent of the Antrim lava flow and visitors can choose a route at the well-named Downhill. Visitors have a choice, to go on to the flat plain and beach of Benone or take a left turn, up the steep Bishop’s road. The Bishop’s road leads to Gortmore Viewing Point, near to the summit of Binevenagh. At the viewing point there is a picnic area and a wall built right at the edge of the cliff. On a clear day the views extend for a hundred miles, over Magilligan and Lough Foyle to the hills of Donegal to the east and west to the Isles of Scotland. It is a true panorama. But the best is the sight of the entire expanse of the triangular plain.
Viking raiders, coming to raid the monastery of Derry, abandoned their plans when they saw Binevenagh through the mist. They thought it was the biggest castle in the world.
Often the gliders from the Ulster Gliding Club fly silently over the cliff seeking the thermal uprush of wind to give them more altitude. Sometimes rare birds like the peregrine falcon play the same games, rising effortlessly on the thermals and hunting for prey before returning to their nests in the crags of the cliff.
The mountain is a nature reserve with the undisturbed flora of upland bogland and many varieties extend from the mountaintop all the way to the scree slopes below.
The fame of its flowers and honey had reached London by 1725. Innes said that “herb-doctors, who then were in high repute in Ireland, esteemed the breast of Binevenagh mountain a kind of physic garden, which supplied them with medicines to be found in no other place.” And he added, that “the abundance and great variety of flowers rendered Magilligan honey so delicious, that the produce commanded a higher price than any other brought to the Dublin market.” The broadleaf trees prefer the streams where occasional otters have been seen. And red squirrels and Irish hares are not unknown.
The artificial lake on the mountaintop must be one of the highest fisheries in Ireland. It has a permanent stock of about 2000 rainbow trout that weigh up to 5 pounds.
Binevenagh is the name of the mountain, but the townland names are Avish and Gortmore, which mean a rough mountain pasture and the great field. The place was the same when the Celts named it and Avish was until recently an upland sheep farm.
Not many places have stayed the same for 2000 years.
Video produced by Ambient Light Productions