This well maintained walkway follows a key section of the longer Causeway Coast Way & Ulster Way. Nearly 5 miles in length, this section of coast from Giant’s Causeway to Dunseverick Castle is officially referred to as the North Antrim Cliff Path (& maintained by The National Trust). The spectacular cliff landscape & rich biodiversity of the coast merges effortlessly with the surrounding farmland, where grazing cattle and sheep are common place. And it is this mix of conservation & working farm practices which have created rich mosaics of wild habitats for birds, plants & insects. And the built heritage is note worthy, with the promontory fort & later stone castle of Dunseverick Castle being an added interest.
Portballintrae Beach is a very popular attraction nearby.
Point of interest:World Heritage Site, Benbane Head, Dunseverick Castle
OS map:Sheet 4
Terrain:Grassy cliff edge paths, stiles
Route:From the Giant’s Causeway car park proceed past the toilets through the vechicle tunnel, turn left and climb the steps to the cliff top path. Take great care along the cliff path especially on windy days.
Proceed along the cliff top path & at the first headland (Weir’s Snout) – one of the best panoramic views of the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site can be had. Below you, will stream a constant flow of foreign visitors to Ireland’s top visited outdoor attraction (750,000 visitors per year & rising). After pausing continue along the somewhat ‘off the beaten track’, as the trail of visitors will soon be left behind, as you pass by headland after headland. To find out more information & folklore on the actual Causeway Headlands – go to the walkni website for Giant’s Causeway (here a detailed description can be found). After 1 mile, the North Antrim Cliff Path will veer sharp right – follow the path and you will be looking down into ‘The Amphitheatre’ – a spectacular bay, only accessible to nesting fulmars, jackdaws & occasional black guillemots. For the next 2 miles, the walker is greeted with some of the finest cliff scenery in Europe, with attractively named headlands/bays such as:
Port na Spaniagh, The King & his nobles, Plaiskin Head, Hamiliton’s Seat, Benbane Head, Bengore Head, Portnabrock & culminating in the largest bay of Port Moon (where a salmon fishery was once located – look for the old remaining fisherman’s bothy). At this stage of the walk, you will be largely on your own, except for an occasional back packer or passing peregrine falcon. The rare Chough are also an occasional visitor along this coast, unfortunately declining in recent years & only breeding on Rathlin Island at present. At Port Moon, you are now only 1 mile from your end destination of Dunseverick Castle.
The cliffs gradually fall in height as you approach Dunseverick Castle, and before you arrive at the castle – a section of the path goes through open farmland. This is an organic farm owned by the National Trust, so grazing cows will be a common sight & the walker should respect the livestock & keep all dogs on leads. The walker usually has to give way to County Antrim cattle.
The North Antrim Cliff Path & this particular walk ends at Dunseverick Castle car park (a scramble to the old castle walls is optional & only for the fittest). This was a ‘royal site’ in the past, with a history of resident Ulster clans, the great road north from Tarra ending here, raiding Vikings & even St Patrick are all associated with this Dunseverick site. Now a 4.5 mile return walk beckons or the easier prospect of the hourly shuttle bus in summer.
Facilities:Toilets, Tea Room and Gift Shop at Giant’s Causeway start point (£5 parking charge) – 12 months opening. No toilets at Dunseverick Castle car park end point. Here there is free car parking, picnic tables, interpretation & a bus stop.
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Accessible terrain:Car park & picnic area at Dunseverick Castle disability friendly. The rest of cliff path requires a certain level of physical fitness, due to steep slopes, stiles – up to 400 feet in height.
Publication:Giant’s Causeway Guide Book (c£4) and www.ispyni
Publication availability:Giant's Causeway Shop Tel: 02820 732972
Getting to the start by public transport:Both Giant’s Causeway & Dunseverick are well sign posted c/o the Causeway Coastal Route, both from Bushmills and Ballycastle. By bus, the Causeway Rambler Service (Ulsterbus No 402) between Bushmills & Carrick-a-Rede runs in summer – important facility if walkers choose not to walk the return leg, as Rambler Service stops at Dunseverick Castle!