Are you planning to visit Northern Ireland in 2023?
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If so, you’ll want to include the Causeway Coast on your itinerary.
No trip to Northern Ireland is complete without seeing its fabulous coastline.
To get a true appreciation for the region, it’s not enough to drive the 130–mile route that hugs the coast. You should also consider walking on some of the area’s easy-to-navigate trails.
Here’s a look at 5 easy walks that you can take where views of the surrounding area take center stage.
Walk #1 – The Causeway Circular Route
If this is your first time visiting the Giant’s Causeway, then the Causeway Circular Route is a great introduction to one of the most popular attractions on the island of Ireland.
The Causeway’s unusual hexagonal stones are the main attraction.
Start this walk just beyond the visitor center and then follow the tarred, downward sloping pathway toward an area locally known as The Windy Gap.
The Causeway is made up of three promontories, including the Little Causeway, the Middle Causeway (better known as The Honeycomb) and The Grand Causeway.
While old Irish legends are fascinating to hear, the explanation for this unusual coastal scape is much more scientific.
Experts believe that about 60 million years ago, the region was subject to intense volcanic activity, with the cooling lava creating the now-famous column structures.
As you walk along, you’ll spot the Wishing Chair, the Wishing Well and the Giant’s Gate, all of which are connected to folklore surrounding the mythological Irish character, Finn McCool.
To get a more expansive view of the Causeway, you’ll need to keep walking past the stones toward Port Noffer, otherwise known as The Bay of the Giant.
Here you’ll walk through maritime meadows and saltmarsh vegetation before getting to the Giant’s Boot and then climbing to The Organ, a series of huge basalt columns that resemble organ pipes.
From the top, you’ll be able to marvel at an area known as the Amphitheatre., where the dynamic nature of the cliffs can clearly be seen, as well as other notable attractions like the Giant’s Harp and the Giant’s Eyes.
Complete this circular walk by returning to The Organ and climbing the 162 steps known as The Shepherd’s Path that will take you to the North Antrim Cliff Path and eventually back to the visitor center.
Total Length: 2.2 miles/3.54 kilometers
Time it takes to complete: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
Type of Trail: Circular Loop (partially paved with some rocky parts)
Walk #2 – The Kinbane Castle/Kinbane Head Walk
Most tourists to Northern Ireland who are looking for castle ruins head to Dunluce.
And it’s easy to see why.
Dunluce Castle is located on the precipice of a cliff overlooking the North Atlantic and is perhaps one of the photographed castles on the island of Ireland.
It was also used as one of the locations for the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, much of which was shot throughout Northern Ireland.
But there’s another castle that doesn’t receive as much attention.
It’s called Kinbane Castle, also on the Antrim coast.
The 16th-century castle once belonged to Colla MacDonnell but by the 18th century, was under the control of the MacAllisters.
You can get to the ruins by taking a trail that involves walking up a series of steep, narrow steps and once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views from this atmospheric location.
Be sure to complete this walk in dry conditions as the trail is in an exposed location and isn’t easy to navigate during wet weather.
Total Length: 0.6 miles/0.96 km
Time it takes to complete: 32 minutes.
Type of Trail: Out and Back (grassy cliff edge path, with some steep and narrow steps)
Walk #3 – White Park Bay Beach Walk
There are so many beaches on the Coastal Causeway that are beautiful but the beach in White Park Bay is a truly spectacular one.
The beach forms a white arc in between two headlands on the North Antrim coast that is quite secluded and a great place for a walk.
White Park Bay, which is about 8 miles/12 km west of Ballycastle and 6 miles/9 km from Bushmills, is owned by the National Trust and the beach itself is backed by dunes and grasslands.
From the parking lot, you’ll take a rather steep path toward the beach but before that, look out for a small, white-washed building that was at one time part of a larger complex of buildings known as the “Old Hedge School” for “young gentlemen.”
The building is in a beautiful location and has been featured in many an Instagram post.
On the beach walk, you’ll possibly encounter the odd sheep or cow as well as plenty of birdlife.
Walk to the eastern end of the bay and then back again on the same route.
You should be extra careful of high tides on White Park Bay Beach, and as a result, swimming is not allowed here.
Total Length: 1.4 miles/2.25 km
Time it takes to complete: 30 minutes at most.
Type of Trail: Out and Back (sandy beach)
Walk #4 – Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Trail
The views of Rathlin Island and the Scottish Isles are perhaps the most stunning part of this coastal trail.
However, the end destination, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, is the real attraction here.
The bridge, which sits 100 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, links the mainland to a tiny island known as Carrickarede.
While nobody knows exactly when the bridge was constructed here, it is widely believed that it has been in place for at least 350 years and used primarily by local salmon fishermen.
Today, it is much safer than it was, but for some, it could be a scary experience, so if you suffer from heights, this might not be a good idea. I suggest you use your own judgment.
You can get to the trail from the car park.
Don’t rush this walk.
Instead, savor the beauty all around you, including the aqua blue sea water below during the summer months, the rich grasslands on the cliff slopes with lots of colorful flowers, and the many seabirds that call this beautiful place home.
No surprise that this is An Area of Special Scientific Interest given its diverse flora and unique geology.
Total Length: 1.6 miles/2.57 km
Time it takes to complete: 45 minutes.
Type of Trail: Out and Back (mainly gravel, starting out flat)
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Walk #5 – Dunseverick Castle Coastal Trail to the Giant’s Causeway
You’ll be starting this lovely coastal walk at Dunseverick Castle, once the home of the Earls of Ulster from around 1250 through 1350.
By the 16th century, it had fallen under the control of the O’Cahan and MacDonnell chieftains.
While there’s really not much left of the castle today due to bombardment by Cromwellian troops in 1642, you will see the remains of a Gate Lodge situated on the edge of the cliffs.
What had remained of the castle was swept into the sea in 1978.
Dunseverick Castle was built on an important site.
Not only was Saint Patrick said to have visited during the 5th century, but it was also the home of Fergus the Great, who served as king of Dalriada, which included parts of Western Scotland and Northeastern Antrim.
No surprise that the Vikings raided the castle during the 9th century given its strategic location.
As you walk around the site, keep in mind that at one time, it was where the High Kings Road was located, one of The Five Great Roads of Ireland in ancient times that brought travelers from Tara in County Meath to Dunseverick, a 150-mile/240-kilometer journey!
An easy way to get to the start of this trail is by taking the Causeway Rambler bus from the Giant’s Causeway.
You can take the 402 bus during the summer months or the 172 bus, which operates year-round.
At the castle, start walking west following the coastal path where you’ll have a good view of what is known as The Inner Seas, which includes a body of water between Western Scotland, the Outer Hebrides, and Northern Ireland.
Expect to see plenty of grazing sheep along this route as it goes directly through open farmland, including an organic farm owned by the National Trust.
And for the next 2 miles, you’ll no doubt want to stop and take in the cliff scenery and the gorgeous headlands and bays along the way, including Port Moon (look for the fisherman’s bothy below), Portnabrock, Bengore Head, Benbane Head, and more.
As you get closer to the Giant’s Causeway, expect to see the Amphitheater mentioned above and as you proceed along the cliff path, you’ll come to the last headland in the area known as Weir’s Snout.
Some say it is the best panoramic view you’ll get of the world heritage site.
Total Length: 4.6 miles/7.40
Time it takes to complete: 1 hour, 20 minutes.
Type of Trail: Linear (grassy cliff edge paths with some stiles to cross)
Are you planning to explore any of these 5 easy walks on the Causeway Coast? Let me know in the comments below.