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Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway, renowned for its polygonal columns of layered basalt, is the only World Heritage Site in N Ireland. Resulting from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, this is the focal point for a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has attracted visitors for centuries. It harbours a wealth of local and natural history. Other noteworthy items include: a Spanish Armada shipwreck site (‘La Girona’) & many traces of the legendary giant – Finn MacCool.

County

Antrim

Distance

2 miles

OS Map

Sheet 4

Nearest Town

Bushmills

Route Shape

Circular

Route Type

Coastal

Terrain

Some steep slopes, gravel paths

Grid Reference (Start)

C944439

Grid Reference (End)

C944439

Point of Interest

40,000+ polygonal basalt columns. Giant’s Boot, The Organ etc

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Causeway Coast

Route Description

From the visitor centre, follow a tarred roadway & footpath which descends down a steep slope, until you arrive at ‘The Stookans’ or Windy Gap, as locals refer to it – evident as here the walker is exposed to the wild Atlantic elements. From here continue along the tarred roadway (always taking care to mind the popular tourist shuttle bus service) and quickly the first signs of the hexagonal causeway stones will appear.

The Giant’s Causeway is made up of 3 promontories – the Little Causeway (1st feature the walker meets), the Middle Causeway (better known as the ‘Honeycomb’) – which has spectacularly precise hexagonal features, followed by the The Grand Causeway. In this immediate area, evocative place names & features abound – Wishing Chair, Wishing Well & Giant’s Gate (all connected with Finn MacCool folklore).

Many tourists on strict time operator deadlines, rarely go beyond the stones, but for this walk negotiate the Giant’s Gate & proceed into Port Noffer (The bay of the giant). Here a different world exists, with marginally more sheltered conditions allowing more diverse maritime meadows & saltmarsh vegetation to establish. Cast an eye for Sea aster, Yellow iris & other rich plant life. Meadow pipits & many warblers in summer can be found – with sedge warblers & grasshopper warbler not uncommon. And high amongst the crags – the dominant birds are nesting fulmars, and an occasional lone pair of ravens. Passing the Giant’s Boot, climb up the slope to what looks like a giant church organ (in geological terms – huge columns of basalt make the ‘organ pipes’, hence the local name of ‘The Organ’. From here the cliff path continues past ‘The Organ’ for another 400 yards to the headland. At the point of the headland, there is a viewing platform which looks into the spectacularly named ‘Amphitheatre’. Here all manner of lava flows can be observed, aswell as the dynamic nature of the cliffs. Look for the Giant’s Harp & Eyes? At this point the cliff path is closed off for safety reasons, due to unstable cliffs (a number of significant rockfalls occurred here in 1994). From here, return to The Organ, and instead of retracing your steps to the stones climb the steep path, with lots & lots of steps. Known as the Shepherd’s Path, these 162 steps will take you to the cliff top & on to the North Antrim Cliff Path. At the top of the steps, turn right and after half a mile you will be back at the visitor centre & car park – You may even have earned a ‘Finn MacCool Steak’ at the Causeway Hotel for your efforts at completing this iconic Irish walk!

Getting to the Start (by Public Transport)

By bus, Causeway Rambler (Ulsterbus No 402) between Bushmills and Carrick-a-Rede runs in the summer; or Ulsterbus No 252 is a circular route via the Antrim Glens from Belfast. Both stop at the Giant’s Causeway.

Parking/getting to the start options:
1. Park in Bushmills (Park ‘n’ Ride) facilities, anyone using Park and Ride will be charged the green transport visitor experience charge of £7 instead of the standard £8.50
2. Free parking at Bushmills steam railway car park, and walk to Giant’s Causeway via steam railway line/walkway (2 miles).
3. Free parking at Portballintrae and follow Causeway Coast Way (1.5 miles).
4. Park at steam railway station at Runkerry Road, beside Giants Causeway (0.25 miles). Charge £6 per car.
5. Translink Causeway Coast Rambler Bus (Bushmills stop hourly) £5.90 per adult or £2.95 per child day ticket – operating from Coleraine-Portrush-Carrick-a-Rede (inc Giants Causeway stop point).

Getting to the Start (by Car)

Well sign posted c/o the Causeway Coastal Route, both from Bushmills and Ballycastle. On B146 and 2 miles from Bushmills.

Dogs

Dogs are allowed. Must be kept on a lead

Accessibility Grade

Grade 4

Accessible Facilities

The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility:

Café (wheelchair accessible)
Shop (wheelchair accessible)
Visitors Centre
Disabled toilets
Disabled parking
Wheelchair available - Bus available to take visitors to the Causeway
Mobility vehicle available

Facilities

National Trust operated car park (see National Trust link below for up-to-date fees).
Toilets, Picnic area, Interpretation, National Trust shop & tea room (12 months opening).
Guided tours for groups by arrangement.

Publication

Giant’s Causeway Guide Book

Publication Availability

Giant's Causeway Shop tel: 028 2073 1855

Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
 
Image Gallery
Maps and Downloads

Ratings and Comments

★★★★★
peter kobor 4 October, 2016 @ 18:48

Read this first before going and found a place to park at a nice cafe before the tourist trap. had a wonderful walk that was free and spent what I saved on a few pints on the way back out. You can also drive past the entrance and park on the left side of the road where you see the trail go up the hill. dont spend money its free !

★★★★☆
Alistair 6 June, 2016 @ 15:41

The Giant's Causeway is excellent, but the Visitors Centre is a con. You pay money to visit the Centre, not the Causeway.

The Causeway itself is FREE, just go along the side wall of the centre between the Centre and it's car park, and Violla!

The Centre does not advertise this fact and there are no signs - they want you to pay to go through the building to reach the site.

★★★★★
Sharon Mills 1 November, 2013 @ 21:44

I enjoyed Giant's Causeway immensely, we picked a wild, wet and windy day to visit but this added to the excitement - amazing to see and feel the power of the sea!!! We didn't pay to go into the visitor's centre (we walked from our cottage, so no need for a car park) but as we passed the back door, two security guards told us to come through this way so we ended up inside the visitor's centre anyway. After a quick look around, I am very glad we didn't pay to go in there, there are some nice displays and information but it is not worth the money!!! Take my advice - do a self guided tour and miss out the visitors centre, there are plenty of signs and information on the walks to support this. Gorgeous part of the world, well worth a visit!!

★★★★☆
James Burnham 26 July, 2012 @ 13:50

Nice walk; long gradual slope. I parked in front of the hotel at no charge (did I miss something?), then walked down the path. We discretely used the restrooms at the hotel. The new visitor center was under construction and will be quite nice when completed.

★★★☆☆
philip 16 July, 2012 @ 14:02

Be prepared to pay ! the walk is excellent however to park at the visitors centre you have to purchase the full visitor centre experience. It's expensive and to be honest the displays are disappointing. If you just want to walk then you need to arrive at the visitors centre without a car.

★★★★★
Catherine McConaghy 12 February, 2010 @ 03:17

Magical, fantastic. What a gorgeous part of the world

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