Giant’s Causeway clifftop experience
There’s a lot more to the area around Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO world heritage site, the Giant’s Causeway than the small area of stacked hexagonal rocks that most tourists come for. Home to famous Irish Whiskey “Bushmills”, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Rathlin Island and the seaside towns of Portstewart and Portrush, the Antrim coast has plenty to offer. We can attest to the famous ice cream at Morelli’s in Portstewart and we’ve experienced Carrick-a-Rede pre-COVID, so there are some pictures below from our time then but unfortunately, the rope bridge isn’t open yet but keep an eye on social media to find out when it does.
The heritage area is bigger than you think
Most people don’t realise but the actual UNESCO-designated region covers coastline that stretches for miles so how do you get to experience this as a tourist? Well, Away a wee walk has a Giant’s Causeway clifftop experience, which is a fantastic five-mile hike from the ruin of Dunseverick Castle along a clifftop path finishing at the Giant’s Causeway. Here you will get the full experience of the stunning coastline and understand why this stretch of coast is also part of the world heritage site. Walking atop the coves, peer down to an isolated bothy, see nesting birds, and look out for the odd nosey sheep.
Walking tour information
The Clifftop Experience walk departs daily from the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre for the Rambler bus to the ruins of Dunseverick Castle. The walk returns along the clifftops to the Giant’s Causeway taking around 3.5 hours to complete. The price includes on-site parking, access to the Visitor Centre, and a choice to join a guided tour or the use of an outdoor audio guide as well as the clifftop walk.
We met our guide, Eimear at the Visitor Centre as plan and made our way to the starting point of the walk, which starts with lush green coastline that has just a hint of the basalt causeway columns about it.
Before suddenly becoming much more dramatic. The landscape reminds you of something out of Game of Thrones, doesn’t it? 😛
The ragged coast weaves and winds towards the main Causeway area.
In the distance, you can just about make out, what is known as, the chimney stacks.
You can see the remains of the original, unsafe walking route, which has seen a landslide or two and is now closed off permanently.
Being on the Atlantic ocean, the weather can change at any minute so mind your step (Eimear will keep you right)!
But also pay attention to what’s beside the path too as delicate harebell flowers adorn this route.
Here’s an image to give you an idea of how vast the cliff area is – and how close you actually walk to it! If you are really scared of heights then this possibly isn’t the walk for you but at no point is the walk dangerous. As long as you stick to the patch there are no scary drops.
You can see more people walking the route in the distance here. You can walk right up to the edge but we wouldn’t recommend it!
You’ll also find nesting gulls making use of the basalt columns below.
You can appreciate the Giant’s Causeway, from a vantage point tourists seldom see, and the best way to fully understand why it is a world heritage site is to walk along this coastal path. Many thanks to Eimear for taking us on the tour.
What to bring
Sturdy walking shoes are essential and a waterproof coat is advisable. As is sunscreen (you can still get burnt when it’s cloudy so pay attention to the UV index) and snacks/water to keep you going.
The tour operates in cooperation with the National Trust. Please go here to book online.
The Giant’s Causeway Clifftop Experience Tour departs daily from the Visitor Centre at 10.15am (November-February) and 12.15pm (March-October). Please arrive 15 minutes before and allow extra time for COVID-19 unexpectancy.
Pre-booking is essential and you are advised to book by 4pm the day BEFORE you intend to do the walk. A minimum of 3 people is required in order for a tour to run.
Carrick a Rede Bridge
Currently closed, but keep a check on social media for when it will re-open as this can be incorporated into a full day Away a Wee Walk tour, including transport from Belfast. The rope bridge to Carrick-a-Rede Island has been around in one shape or form for 250 years! Do you have the courage to make it across the 30 metre deep and 20 metre wide chasm? Going one way might be OK but can you cross the bridge again to return to the mainland as there’s no other way off the island?
Sat Nav: Ballintoy, BT54 6LS
tel: 028 2076 9839
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Disclaimer: we received a complimentary walking tour to raise awareness of tourism in the UK in times of coronavirus.