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.
Point of interest:40,000+ polygonal basalt columns. Giant’s Boot, The Organ etc
OS map:Sheet 4
Terrain:Some steep slopes, gravel paths
Route: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!
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.
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Accessible terrain:Some steep slopes, gravel paths and steps. Walking footwear recommended.
Accessible signage:Yes (award winning interpretation panels)
Publication:Giant’s Causeway Guide Book
Publication availability:Giant's Causeway Shop tel: 028 2073 1855
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.
Opening times:Opening times:
Stones and coastal path open daily from dawn to dusk.
Visitor Centre Opening times for 2015:
January: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
February & March: 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
April – September: 9.00 am – 7.00 pm
October: 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
November & December: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Closed 24th, 25th & 26th December 2015
Last ticket sales is one hour before advertised closing time.
During Spring and Summer our busiest times are between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm, so come early or plan an evening visit.
This includes access to
• A state of the art visitor centre featuring an illuminating exhibition showcasing the stories and the science behind the Giant’s Causeway
• Innovative pocket size audio guide available in 9 languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian and Polish
• The option of a guided walk led by an experienced member of the National Trust team (available daily as hourly intervals during off-peak times and becoming more frequent during peak season; please contact Visitor Information for exact timings)
• An award winning retail facility introducing new and exclusive local products
• Visitor Information (please note this service at the centre is free to access)
• Fully accessible toilets and a Changing Places facility for people with disabilities
• A grab and go style café
• Orientation leaflet and Parking
If you park within the defined area of the visitor experience, the admission charge will be applied. Staff will be on standby to check tickets.
Pedestrian access to the Giant’s Causeway is free. However, if you wish to use any of the facilities at the site, including parking but exccluding the Visitor Information Service, the visitor experience charge will apply.
Standard Admission Ticket: Adult £9.00, Child £4.50, Family £22 (2 adults + up to 3 children under 17 years)
Under 5 years Free
National Trust Members Free
Groups with a minimum of 15 people can pre-book by contacting (028) 2073 3419.
Pre-purchase and save: visit www.giantscausewaytickets.com
to pre-purchase your tickets and save £1.50 on adult asmission, £1 on child admission and £3.50 on familly admission.
Go green and save: if you arrive by public transport, by bicycle or on foot, you’ll save £2 on adult admission, £1.25 on child admission and £4 on family admission. Green saving applied at Admissions Point. Green admission discount also applies to the Park & Ride in Bushmills Village (operates March – October). The Park & Ride service is only for those wishing to gain access into the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre.
Shuttle bus from Visitor Centre to the stones is run by Translink and is an extra charge: currently £1 per adult and 50p per child each way. National Trust Members who present valid membership cards travel for free as do Northern Ireland Senior Citizens who present a Smart Pass.