The travel writer Michael Palin described the route alongside Downhill beach as ‘one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world.’ As passengers on the Belfast-Derry train emerge from a cliffside tunnel, this breathtaking coastline unfolds before them.
This is the most easterly section of a magnificent 11-kilometre stretch of Atlantic coastline beginning at Magilligan Point. The beach, used in filming Game of Thrones, offers a wealth of activities, from swimming and surfing to kayaking, walking and horse-riding (hours restricted, May-Sept).
The 18th century Mussenden Temple dominates this landscape of sand and surf and offers stunning clifftop views across the sea to Donegal. The Temple and Downhill Castle, owned by the National Trust, are open to the public all year.
Waterfalls gush down the sides of the cliffs that form the backdrop to Benone. It’s designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is a great destination for nature walks and birdwatching.
RNLI lifeguards are on duty in July and August (11 a.m.-7 p.m.). Free on-beach parking is available throughout the year although care should be taken with tides and soft sand. A few parking spaces are available at the entrance, along with disabled parking and concrete access to the beach. Toilets (accessible) are also located near the entrance.