On paper, this walk to the summit of Trostan, at 550m, the highest point in Co.Antrim, should have been a disaster. I was ill-prepared, deciding to make the ascent on a whim, so I had no prior reading about routes etc behind me. I wasn’t sure of where to start, or exactly which direction to go, and given that I had vague recollections of reading at some point that the route went throught a coniferous forestry plantation with complex twists and turns, I might not find the summit at all. I wouldn’t be helped by the fact that by all accounts, Trostan was a bit of an ill-defined mound which might not be easily distinguishable from the surrounding hilly bog.
A further reason to be pessimistic was the almost universal agreement that Trostan was probably not worth the effort anway, unless you were a summit bagger or wanted the “county tops”. Even those dedictated to Irish hill walking, often describe it as intolerably boggy, and that’s from a group of people well used to boggy conditions. With all this in mind, it is a wonder I decided to tackle Trostan at all, but maybe the widespread disdain made me curious. I also found myself in Belfast, with some time to spare, the hiking gear in the boot of the car, and decent weather. As it turned out, I managed to find the summit with a bit of luck, and had a very enjoyable walk on Trostan.
Although I had not done my usual preparation by reading the guides on mounatainviews.ie, and had no map, I have read the guides on a lot of mountains out of idle curiosity, and had vague recollections of doing so on Trostan at some point. I seemed to remember Glenariff Forest Park being mentioned as a potential starting point, so initially made for it. From the car park, I was able to identify Trostan to the North West, but before setting off, paused to enjoy the views down the glen to the coast.
The park has several walks and contains some great waterfalls, and I promised myself I would return to explore further on another occasion. But for now, I took the car back down to the park entrance where there was room to park one car, crossed the main road, and set off on the waymarked track towards Trostan. After a short walk, the track crossed another main road and entered the forest. There was a bit of a problem with the waymarked signs as I went through the forested area, as many were missing, or arrows had faded where the track split. Purely by good luck I would later find that I had managed to stay on the right track. This type of commercial coniferous forest can be monotonous to walk through, but here, there were hundreds of red sickener mushrooms under the trees, providing a bit of interest.
I soon came to a point where the path ran out, and there was a break in the trees with the open hillside beyond. This was the start of the notorious boggy section, but luckily, we had enjoyed a prolonged dry spell, and the summer had been very good this year, so the conditions underfoot weren’t too bad. By all accounts, this is an unusual state of affairs on Trostan. Emerging from the forest I could see a wire fence, that initially ran alongside the trees, then cut off uphill across the bog, almost to the summit, and I was able to use it as a guide for most of the ascent.
Alongside the fence leading across the bog to the summit.
Before long, I arrived at the first of several little stone cairns, and the summit itself, marked by a trig pillar was visible ahead. The whole summit area was unusal, the bog covering seemingly stripped away, to reveal a stony landscape.
Stone cairns near the summit.
Looking over to Slievenanee behind the cairns.
The trig pillar at the summit in the middle of the strange, stony landscape.
I was pleased to have found the summit by luck really, and to have reached it with no real problems with boggy ground. The dry summer must have helped as I’ve definitely encountered worse ground on other mountains with reputations nowhere near as bad as Trostan’s!
At the summit, Trostan appeared as a broad plateau sweeping round to the east, and I made my way across the flat, rocky top to another little cairn at the eastern end. From here, the views were actually better than at the summit itself, as I could look down on the famous Glens of Antrim, with the sea beyond. Scotland can be seen from here on clear days, although the haze meant that today, I could just about make out a darker smudge on the horizon. The views were still very impressive however, despite the haze, and Trostan had not lived up to the horrific experience I had half exptected.
The distinctive Tievebulliagh hill.
I made my way back towards Glenariff Park, this time pausing to take a few photos along the route, not having to concentrate so much on navigation.
Bridge at the main road from Ballymena to Cushendall.
Back in the forestry.
Back on a clear track, and near the start/end point.
I had enjoyed the walk, and would have no hesitation in recommending Trostan, despite the bad reports, but if you are considering it, maybe you should wait for a long dry spell!