Friday, 15 April 2016

Giant's Causeway (North Antrim Coast)

One of Northern Ireland's most visited tourist attractions is the Giant's Causeway, a World Heritage Site.

Based on legend, the columns of 40,000 basalt columns were built by a giant called Finn MacCool. The columns of the Causeway, formed some 60 million years ago, by volcanic activity are a memorable experience, a great day out, and great a photo opportunity.
The 60 million year old basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway.

Near the Giant's Causeway is Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge - a scenic walk that brings you to a rope bride hanging above water. Cross the bridge and enjoy visiting a little island. Sit and enjoy the views.

Views along the North Antrim Coast - beautiful!

Things to note:
It costs money to park in the Giant's Causeway carpark. If you're a National Trust member, car parking is free (last time I was there). The Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre costs money to enter, however, walking along the Giant's Causeway is free (something many people don't figure out until they have already paid). This site can be very busy and there can be waiting for food at the restaurant in peak times.

Top Tips:

  • Take a picnic or snacks with you and enjoy your lunch along the top walk of the Giant's Causeway. Relax and enjoy the scenery.
  • There are two FREE walks, the 'lower' walk that takes you down to the Giant's Causeway, and the 'high' walk along the cliffs above the Giant's Causeway.
  • Keep a close watch on children, particularly on the high cliff walk as it's often windy and there are limited protective rails along the cliffs. The high cliff walk is more suitable for adults.
  • Enjoy other nearby sites on the same day such as Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Bushmills Distillery.
  • Appropriate footwear for walking is recommended. The weather can change suddenly so always be prepared for rain.

A One Day Driving Tour:
  • Click here to view  a map. From Belfast take the Motorway to Larne. From Larne head North along the coast, heading towards Glenarm Castle (a great place to eat lunch or have a cup of tea/coffee), and then drive along the Coastal Route through the Glens of Antrim, ending up in Cushendun. Take a toilet break in Cushendun or perhaps a lunch break before starting on the scenic drive of Torr Head. If your're feeling fit and the weather is good, stop at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge for a scenic walk (this costs money). Otherwise, skip the Rope Bridge and head for the Giant's Causeway, followed by Bushmills Distillery for a tour (costs money). Try a fish and chip dinner if you're hungry in Bushmills. If you have time, stop at Dunluce Castle and enjoy the views. Head back towards Belfast. This trip is based on an early start, 8am) and late return (9 or 10pm).
  • Have a look at a sample Driving Tour - here.

Staying Overnight
If you'd like to stay overnight, try Bushmills Inn (quite expensive) or The Causeway Hotel (quite expensive). There is also a clean, basic hostel with fantastic views located above a beach at Whitepark Bay (very reasonable).

Managing Expectations:

The Giant's Causeway costs money to enter the Visitor Centre Building which also means you have to pay to go into the restaurant/cafe (unless this has now changed). You can access the walk to the Giant's Cause free of charge - just go around the back of the building. The use of toilets is free. If you have mobility restrictions, there is a bus that will take you down to the main Giant's Causeway area (cost is a few Pounds Stirling). 
In my opinion, the Visitor Centre ins't worth spending money on. However the audio tour headsets from the Visitor Centre which costs money is very good with lots of history, information and stories that you can use while doing a self guided walking tour along the Giant's Causeway - I really enjoyed this.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is mostly about the views and scenery. The walk isn't easy if you're unfit.  There is a small cafe beside the carpark and toilets. Last time I was there, the cafe offered a very limited selection of food. There is a charge for car parking and a charge for walking to the rope bridge (National Trust members are free).

Travel:

If you don't have a car, there is a regular public bus that goes from Belfast (and many other towns) to the North Antrim Coast. In the summer, there is often a Translink Bus Rambler ticket that takes you to the North Coast (cheaper than other tickets). There are also plenty of tour companies that offer day tours. (Paddy Wagon, Causeway Coast Tour, McComb's Coach Travel).

More info:

Click here to view the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge website.
Click here for the information on the Giant's Causeway.
Click here for information on the village of Cushendun.
Click here for information on buses.
Click here for information on the Coastal Route Driving Tour from Belfast.

Click here to read my blog post about Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information supplied. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge


Along the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland is one of the most scenic areas in the whole of Ireland - really beautiful!


A slow paced drive is recommended, taking your time to enjoy the Coastal Route and its tremendous views, stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery, countryside and local towns.


Walking across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
Nearby is Ballintoy harbour and Ballintoy church. 

Views along the walk from the car park to the Carrick-a-Red Rope Bridge.

Things to note:


It costs money to park in the carpark. This money goes to the National Trust and is going to a good cause.  If you're a National Trust member, car parking is free (last time I was there). Food/drink is limited at this location.

Top Tips:
  • Take a picnic with you and enjoy your lunch on the island across the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Relax and enjoy the scenery.
  • Keep a close watch on children as there are high cliffs and it's often windy. 
  • Enjoy other nearby sites on the same day such as Ballintoy Harbour for a walk on the small beach, and/or the Giant's Causeway which is one of Northern Ireland's most popular tourist attractions and is a World Heritage Site.
  • It can be extremely windy at these sites, so take appropriate clothing. Appropriate footwear for walking is also recommended.
  • The weather can change suddenly so always be prepared for rain.
Managing Expectations:

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is mostly about the views and scenery. The walk isn't easy if you're unfit.  There is a small cafe beside the carpark and toilets. Last time I was there, the cafe offered a very limited selection of food - try a cup of tea or coffee,  cake or scone.
Ballintoy Harbour is, again, about the scenery. Park the car, and take a walk. We took kites and flew them on a little beach to the right of the main beech. Very relaxing. Limited amenities in this area.
The Giant's Causeway costs money to enter the Visitor Centre Building which also means you have to pay to go into the restaurant/cafe (unless this has now changed). However, you can access the walk to the Giant's Cause free of charge - just go around the back of the building. The use of toilets is free. If you have mobility restrictions, there is a bus that will take you down to the main Giant's Causeway area (cost is a few Pounds Stirling).

Travel:

If you don't have a car, there is a regular bus that goes from Belfast (and many other towns) to the North Antrim Coast. There are also plenty of tour companies that offer day tours. (Paddy Wagon, Causeway Coast Tour, McComb's Coach Travel).

More info:

Click here to view the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge website.
Click here to view the Giant's Causeway website.
click here for information on Ballintoy.
Click here for information on buses.


The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information supplied. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Welcome to Ireland's Secret Places, a new blog that highlights some of the best places to visit in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The content of this blog is purely based on personal experience that is being shared, and may not reflect your own experience, past or future.