The Giant’s Causeway is no doubt on the top of any tourist’s sightseeing list when they visit Northern Ireland. Whilst the dark basalt columns are a sight to behold I was delighted to be invited to experience a guided cliff top walk taking in the breathtaking landscape that completes this world heritage site.
The National Trust in collaboration with Away A Wee Walk – an organisation that offers guided walking tours and holidays, will host the tours that will run throughout the summer months. Eimear, founder of the latter, was our fun and knowledgeable guide for the 5 mile hike.
Meeting at the Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre on an overcast but thankfully dry day we were briefed on health and safety with regards to the terrain and after hearing a little of what we could expect from our tour we boarded the Rambler bus for the short journey to our starting point – Dunseverick Castle. Now if you are looking for this point yourself it’s worth noting that the term castle is used in the loosest of forms with only ruins of the gate lodge remaining.
Following the path we stopped at various photogenic spots for Eimear to point out the sights around us while our group took the opportunity to capture the stunning coastline. Thankfully we had photographer Alistair Hamill in our midst to do a professional job! Eimear told us of the history, folklore, geology and botany of the area including where some of the first evidence of humans in Ireland where found, how the unique coastline was formed and the bleak existence for inhabitants of the area in recent history.
One of our first stops overlooked Port Moon Bay and the Port Moon bothy. The bay was once a hub for fishermen to harvest kelp, cod, lobsters and salmon with the bothy serving as a place to store equipment and offer refuge for the fishermen. Now it provides a unique overnight experience for kayakers and outdoor enthusiasts, it’s remoteness accessible only by water or by the steep cliff side trail.
About an hour and a half into our hike the half way rest at Hamilton’s Seat provides the most spectacular view of the causeway coast. With a wooden bench engraved with a map of the significant sites it’s the perfect spot to sit, refuel and enjoy the wondrous landscape stretching out before you. It is also where you can truly begin to marvel at the basalt columns created over 60 million years ago.
Continuing on our hike along rugged paths, up stony steps and over wooden stiles towards the Giant’s Causeway, we spotted various wild flora including gorse, bog cotton and the pretty purple common spotted orchid. Eimear informed us about the conservation work undertaken by the National Trust in the area to prevent the overgrowth of gorse and to promote other wild flower species to flourish.
Before arriving at the grand causeway we were treated to this spectacular aerial view of the dark basalt rocks as the sun began to shine down on Port Noffer.
After passing the Giant’s boot and listening to the legends of giants we finished our tour on the famous rocks which attract over 800,000 visitors a year. Such a fun day with our friendly guide and group. The Giant’s Causeway Cliff Top Experience was an exhilarating one and one that has renewed my enthusiasm for this stretch of Northern Irish coastline.
Before you go...
The undulating terrain involves muddy paths, steps and stiles. Hiking shoes or boots are recommended as well as waterproofs and layers to allow for our ever changing weather. A reasonable level of fitness is required and is a must do for any outdoor enthusiast. Be sure to pop in to The Causeway Hotel while you’re there, it provides the perfect spot for a bit of pre-fuelling or for some light refreshments after your hike!
It takes around 3.5 to 4 hours to complete the 5 mile hike, allowing for a few stops along the way. Tours cost £30 and include parking, admission to the Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre, transport on the rambler bus to Dunseverick and of course a very knowledgeable guide. Booking is made through the National Trust, click here for more information.
More photos on my Instagram gallery. And be sure to check out Alistair’s stunning work on his website.