Ballintory to Giants Causeway
Key information: Ballintory to Giants Causeway
• A world-class walk, brimming with beauty and fascinating beaches, formations and cliffs, a thrillingly sited castle, a wreck site and the world-famous Giant’s Causeway.
Walkopedia rating(Top 100)
- Walkopedia rating89
- Natural interest16
- Human interest10
- Negative points2
- Total rating89
- Length: Up to 20km
- Maximum Altitude: 150m?
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
This coastal day walk is the finest day of the Causeway Coastway, a truly world-class walk and a form of walking heaven, a parade of beauty and fascination: a long gold beach, weird rock formations, tremendous cliffs striped with layers of basalt colums, sea birds and (possibly) whales, farms, fishing hamlets, a thrillingly sited castle, a wreck site and the genuinely world-famous Giant’s Causeway.
It is best walked from Ballintory, to build to a visual and atmospheric crescendo as the day develops, with it’s finale at the Giant’s Causeway.
Ballintory is a delightful harbour-hamlet at the head of a sliver of water surrounded by rough rocks. It was once a busy little port exporting cut stone.
Heading west, meander just behind the stacks and reefs of this rocky shoreline, enjoying strange formations, narrow inlets and the slightly other-worldly feel. The path climbs into fields behind the coast, then you round a sheer headland, which is impassable at low tide requiring a climb above the cliffs to walk some way behind the sea (ie, try to walk this stretch at low tide). You are met by a huge view across rock-strewn shallows, down the long, golden expanse of White Park Beach, 2km of firm sand and joyous walking, to the ridge which leads out to Gid Point with its natural door through the cliff.
Beyond Gid Point, or rather under it, you wind through more strange formations behind the sea, climbing to a new, airy world, meandering just behind the cliff-top for the next three hours or so, with reefs and grassy little coves below and the stern sea beyond. The hills of the Mull of Kintyre mark the horizon to the north; behind are rough grassy fields, with ridges and valleys farms and villages further off.
You pass the scanty remnants of Viking-wrecked Dunseverick Castle on a perfect green promontory, and later on the cove in which the Spanish Armada galleon Girona was dashed to pieces.
The cliffs display increasingly clear layers of old basalt lava flows, including elegant, fluted pipes and columns with rough layers above and below: early harbingers of the marvels of the Giants Causeway.
A really beautiful, spirit-soaring stretch of walking. And the path is good, a level route along flattish hilltops, although with regular drops into valleys and climbs back out.
If you can do so safely, descend a steep path down a notch in the cliffs just before the Giant’s Causeway to a shoreside meadow. A short stroll gets you to the extraordinary upright basalt columns, some 40,000 of them, which form the Giant's Causeway. It is a weird and atmospheric, a true freak of nature, although, dare we say, slightly oversold. They are mainly hexagonal, closely fitting as if carefully chiseled and slid into place. They match the amazing column-cliffs and cave at Staffa island off Mull, far to the north. They get something like a million visitors a year, and can be overwhelmed in the summer. Out of high season, there won’t be enough people to spoil the atmosphere.
If 20km is to far, you can start at Dunseverick Castle, making for a bit under 5 mile walk.
https://walkni.com/walks/causeway-coast-way/ is an excellent source of information, including downloadable maps, accommodation and food, public transport and taxis and tourist information contacts. https://walkni.com/walks/north-antrim-cliff-path-dunseverick-to-giants-causeway/ for the 5 mile stretch from Dunseverick to the Giant’s Causeway.
WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk
Heading west from the delightful Ballintory harbor, we meander just behind the stacks and reefs of this rocky shoreline, enjoying strange formations, narrow inlets and the slightly other-worldly feel. The early cloud has cleared and it is now a bright day, with the sea sparkling between the rocks. The path climbs into fields behind the coast, then we round a sheer headland, to meet a huge view across rock-strewn shallows, down the long, golden expanse of White Park Beach, 2km of firm sand and joyous walking, with surprisingly few people to share it with given it is only 14th September......READ MORE
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