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Beyond the Giant’s Causeway – Walking the Causeway Coast Way

Posted on March 12, 2015 @ 4:13 PM in Walking

When people talk about the highlights of Northern Ireland’s North Coast, the Giant’s Causeway UNESCO World Heritage site is often top of the list, closely followed by Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery. However, ‘Beyond the Giant’s Causeway’ there lies breath taking landscapes and spectacular walking routes just waiting to be explored.

Offering unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean from cliff top paths with dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches the 53km ‘Causeway Coast Way’  from Portstewart to Ballycastle along Northern Ireland’s most celebrated coastline, still remains largely untouched despite hosting some of Northern Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions.

Widely regarded as one of the finest coastal walks in Europe, the Causeway Coast Way is a relatively flat linear route best enjoyed over 2 days, during which you can escape from the crowds and immerse yourself in the history and geology of the area all whilst covering plenty of ground underfoot.

Causeway Coast Way

 “The grandeur of the rugged North Antrim Coast and the deep glens set against the pastoral farmland create other worlds away from busy life.” Dawson Stelfox MBE, the first Irishman to Summit Everest

Getting to the start
Approximately 262km from Dublin the Causeway Coast Way is easily reached by both car and public transport links. A Causeway Rambler bus service is in operation May through September with a number of stops available along the linear route.

Day 1: Portstewart to Portballintrae including the Giant’s Causeway (23.6km)
Causeway Coast Way

Clockwise from left:  East Strand Portrush, Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Runkerry Beach)

The walk on day 1 takes walkers on the first 3 sections of the Causeway Coast Waymarked Way. Beginning at St Patrick’s Well at the head of Portstewart Strand, this route follows the coastline via the cliff path as it passes the holiday resort of Portrush and the spectacular 16th century Dunluce Castle perched on a crumbling basalt outcrop above the pounding surf before reaching Portballintrae. The walk continues alongside a section of the Giant’s Causeway and Old Bushmills Railway to reach the Giant’s Causeway UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Detailed route descriptions and a downloadable maps for each of the sections can be downloaded on WalkNI.com

  • Best place for food: The Ramore Wine Bar is renowned for its great food and lively atmosphere. A favourite of professional golfer Darren Clarke, this wine bar by the harbour in Portrush is a great place to settle in and sample the relaxed way of life on the North Coast.  Harry’s Shack based right on the beach in Portsetwart serves fresh local fish, meats, & home grown vegetables.  Opened in 2014, the award winning eatery has been receiving rave reviews since. 

Day 2: Portballintrae/ Giant’s Causeway to Ballintoy/Ballycastle (18/27.7km)

Causeway Coast Way

Clockwise from left: Dunseverick Castle, Ballintoy Harbour, Portbraddan, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

Day 2 of this itinerary takes walkers round Benbane Head and past the ruins of Dunseverick Castle and is officially referred to as the North Antrim Cliff path. After reaching the tiny hamlet of Portbraddan, the route follows the sweeping sands of White Park Bay (one of the first places in Ireland to be settled by Neolithic communities) around a headland of jumbled boulders and sea stacks to the picturesque harbour of Ballintoy. A short detour here will take walkers to Carrick-a-Rede with the opportunity of an exhilarating walk across the world famous rope bridge. 

Ballintoy’s hidden beauty is found at the end of the harbour road where you will find a small beach and a limestone harbour dating back to the 18th century a picturesque end to your walk. In recent years this harbour has been a key film location for the television series Game of Thrones.

For those who wish to continue further along the coast, once at Ballintoy there is an option to continue for a further 9.7km on road to Ballycastle.  Often walkers prefer not to walk this section.

Detailed route descriptions and a downloadable maps for each of the sections can be downloaded on WalkNI.com

  • Best place for food: Roark’s Café in Ballintoy Harbour is one of the most idyllic cafe locations in Northern Ireland. A must for a quick snack or a hot drink when out walking along this coastline (Seasonal opening hours apply).  Also based near Balllintoy Harbour another great place open all year round is the Red Door Cottage Tea Room - a traditional Irish cottage with real turf fire, it is the perfect place to stop for a tea and scone or something more substantial.

“...This has to be the best long walk I have ever done. The scenery is spectacular from start to finish. The way is well-marked and for the most part, off-road and traffic free. A real gem, there’s something for everyone- seascapes, cliffscapes, golden beaches, verdant pastures, small towns and world class tourist attractions along the way.” Posted on WalkNI.com by visiting walker Dean Douglas

Places to Stay Along the ‘Way’ – Up to 20% Off for walkers

The route starts at Portstewart Strand with the nearest accommodation in Portstewart town or 1 mile away in nearby Bushmills and ends in Ballycastle all of which have a wide range of walker friendly accommodation to choose from including B&B’s, guesthouses and self-catering accommodation.    

All accommodation providers listed below are currently offering some fantastic offers for walkers from 1st March 2015 – 31st May 2015.  Contact accommodation providers directly and quote ‘WalkNI’ when booking to avail of the offers. For full T&Cs and a full list of all walker-friendly accommodation offers across Northern Ireland visit the accommodation section on WalkNI.com

Bushmills
Bushmills Inn, Bushmills, Co. Antrim 15% Off 4* Hotel
Ballylinny Cottages, Bushmills, Co. Antrim15% Off 4* Self Catering

Portstewart
Cul-Erg House
, Portstewart, Co. Derry~Londonderry 10% Off Bed & Breakfast

Ballycastle
Corratavey House B&B
(part of An Casilean), Ballycastle, Co. Antrim20% Off Bed & Breakfast
Glenluce Lodge Guesthouse, (part of An Casilean), Ballycastle, Co. Antrim20% Off Bed & Breakfast
Cushleake House, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim - 3 nights for the price 2 4* Self-Catering
Garden Cottage, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, 3 nights for the price of 2 3* self-catering
Marine Hotel, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, 15% Off Hotel

Causeway Coast Accommodation

More information on this route can be found by visiting WalkNI.com where you can download the free ‘Causeway Coast Way Guide’ as well as the ‘North Coast & Antrim Walker’s Guide’ including route descriptions and maps for you to plan your walking trip and make your own discoveries ‘beyond the Causeway’.

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

12 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Sean Mullan on March 20, 2015 @ 10:41 PM

Hello Sarah,

The path subsided and was impassable between Dunseverick and Portbraddan - has it been repaired? I've got groups who want to walk the path in May.

Best wishes

Sean Mullan

Posted by WalkNI on March 26, 2015 @ 11:43 AM

Hi Sean,

Moyle District Council have advised that the route is expected to be open before Easter but keep checking WalkNI.com for more information.

Posted by Chris Hudson on April 11, 2015 @ 9:57 AM

1) Dunseverick to Portbraddon is now open, but they've left the Do Not Pass signs up. Ignore, and have a great walk.

2) Walking from Ballintoy to Ballycastle by road is lethal and should not be attempted. The traffic is fast, and the road has no footpath. Please dissuade anyone from trying it. Tell everyone to take the bus and save yourself a boring foot-slog- and maybe a trip to hospital in a nice shiny ambulance.

Posted by WalkNI on April 13, 2015 @ 1:07 PM

Hi Chris,

Many thanks for your feedback regarding the Causeway Coast Way. This route is managed and maintained by the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council (formally Moyle District Council). The route had been closed due to a landslide at Dunseverick for the past three years, and as of last week the route has been reopened. We passed on your feedback to them and they have informed us that the closed signs are on National Trust property and they have asked them to remove them.

In terms of the section of the route between Carrick-a-rede and Ballycastle, we are aware that this is not an ideal situation for walking. The Council are in talks with landowners along the coast at this section to try and negotiate off road access, but this is a lengthy process which has not yet resulted in any action. The Council decided that the route should end in Ballycastle in the hope that access is negotiated and also due to the poor transport links from Carrick-a-rede, where the off road section ends. We will pass on your feedback regarding this section.

Posted by David flinn on April 29, 2015 @ 10:06 PM

I note the comment re the route from the rope bridge to Ballycastle along the dangerous coast road. It might be possible to walk an alternative route from the rope bridge up the glenstaghey road, then through Clare wood to novally road and into ballycastle. The first along the glenstaghey road is very quite and has a broad grass verge and also has lovely views back to the coast. This might serve as a temporary way until the negotiations with landowners end(which could take a long time)

Posted by Linda McDonald on April 17, 2017 @ 9:49 PM

Hi. I want to do some of the costal route from approx causeway to ballintoy..... how long does this normally take. And are there buses to get you to a starting point ?

Posted by WalkNI on April 19, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

Hi Linda,

That section of the route would be approximately 15.5km. The bus service that stops at both the Giants Causeway and Ballintoy is Translink Ulsterbue Service 172, you cna search timetables here:

http://www.translink.co.uk/Mobile_Home/Services/Ulsterbus/Timetables/.

For the walk, see sections 4, 5 and a little bit of 6 here http://www.walkni.com/d/walks/186/Causeway%20Coast%20Waymarked%20Way%20Guide.pdf Note it can be walked in either direction. There are also lcoal taxi numbers in the back of the guide.

Enjoy your walk.

Posted by David Stagg on May 13, 2017 @ 8:58 PM

I had wondered about the same alternative route that David Flinn describes above two years ago (!) but no one has responded - anything to be said about this ? Is the footpath along the edge of Clare Wood and then through to the lane to Novarty a right of way ? - that's not clear to me from the OS map.

Posted by WalkNI on May 23, 2017 @ 3:56 PM

Hi David,

It remains Councils desire to have coastal access between Carrick-a-rede and Ballycastle, but this is a long term aspiration due to the process of gaining permission and negotiating access agreements across privately owned land. Access through Clare Wood would require a licence with the landowner Forest Service, which is an ongoing issue with regards recreation access to all forests within Causeway Coast and Glens District Council, plus additional private access arrangements across private land.

WalkNI

Posted by David Michael on June 17, 2017 @ 4:57 PM

Tried the suggested alternative route this week - very successfully. From the B15 at 30520 44450, took Glenstaghey Road to the bend at 30660 44270; then approx SSE down a vehicle track to about 30680 44225. Here a footpath sets off on a slightly more easterly direction, opposite two ruined stone buildings. The only difficult moment - missed it at first. But it's very clear once you're on it. Just after edging the west side of a pond (shown on OS map) it joins a forestry track at a T - turn R, but the track immediately turns L to follow much the same SE direction. Left at another T and encountered some forestry work going on nearby, signs warn you about proceeding and to stay off the timber stacks, of course, but had no trouble. Track turns 90 degree right, reaches another T, where the made-up surface ends. Turn R and after a grassy couple of 100 yards you're at the end of the farm track that leads down to Novally Road. Met a total of 2 cars and 1 motor bike whole way (plus forestry machines). Felt way safer than the official B15 route !

Posted by David Michael on June 17, 2017 @ 5:03 PM

By the way, re: WalkNI's response above, I did phone Garvagh Forest Office before trying this route, they said that the Clare Wood path was 'open but a bit rough' and just warned about the forestry work going on.

Posted by David Michael on July 21, 2017 @ 9:16 PM

Just checking to see if anyone else had tried this. And realised I'd made an obvious (I hope obvious to anyone following this!) mistake in saying 'Turn R and after a grassy couple of 100 yeards..' - that should of course be turn LEFT (i.e. more or less east)

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