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Foreword by Dr David Bellamy


"You are standing on, or are about to visit, one of my favourite places. The jewel in the crown of the fabulous coast of Antrim. A site of World Heritage and therefore ranked alongside Mount Everest and the Giant Redwoods of California for it's importance to humankind.Volcanic activity helped Finn Mc Cool forge this wonder of the World some 60 Million years ago. It is today the habitat of rare plants and animals. Please treat their home with the pride and the care it deserves."

david bellamy


- A reminder of the past -
A Causeway to all our futures.

david bellamy signature David Bellamy

On this site you will find information about the history of the Causeway along with information on how to get here and what facilities are on offer once you're here.

Introduction

For centuries countless visitors have marvelled at the majesty and mystery of the Giants Causeway. At the heart of one of Europe's most magnificent coastlines its unique rock formations have, for millions of years, stood as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of Atlantic storms. The rugged symmetry of the columns never fails to intrigue and inspire our visitors. To stroll on the Giants Causeway is to voyage back in time.

Your imagination will travel along stepping stones that lead to either the creative turbulence of a bygone volcanic age or into the mists and legends of the past.

In 1986 the Giants Causeway Visitors centre opened, coinciding with the World Heritage Conventions addition of the Causeway to its coveted list of sites, which are of exceptional interest and universal value.

The facilities at the Causeway Centre now include Tourist Information offices, Bureau De Change, Accommodation Booking Service, an Interpretive Audio-Visual Presentation and a Souvenir Shop. The National Trust are the custodians of the Causeway and provide the National Trust Shop and Tea Rooms (for opening times please contact directly). The Causeway Coaster bus service from the centre to the Causeway is now running in conjunction with the opening hours of the centre. The range of amenities on offer is geared to accommodate your individual needs and ensure that all our guests can benefit from and enjoy their visit.

The centre caters for the interest and enjoyment of the half a million tourists that visit the Giants Causeway each year. The management, the staff and our facilities are at your disposal during a visit that we hope will be the first of many.

a view across the sea to the stones

Visitor Centre

the giants causeway visitor centre

In 2007 the Giant's Causeway visitor centre received a National Award of Excellence for 'Best Tour Visit' by CIE Tours International, for the 5th consecutive year.

The new Visitor Centre, designed by Heneghan Peng opened in July 2012. It has already received well over 300,000 visitors from over 150 countries, along with awards for its sensitive architecture and sustainability.

The Visitors Centre is open all year round except Christmas Day and New Years day.

Opening Times

January 0900 - 1700
February, March 0900 - 1800
April, May, June 0900 - 1900
July, August 0900 - 2100
September 0900 - 1900
October 0900 - 1800
November, December 0900 - 1700

Accessibility

Mobility parking and Visitor Centre is accessible.
There is an accessible trail and the grounds are partly accessible.
Some visitors may require assistance from their companion.
Accessible toilets and Changing facilities (key on request).
The causeway stones are uneven and can be slippery.
Supervise children at all times.
Wear sensible footwear and clothing.
For more safety information visit the National Trust website.

General Facilities

Explore the Giant's Causeway with an interactive exhibition .
Outdoor audio guide availiable and an audio guide for visually impaired visitors also available.
Enjoy local food and refreshments in the Visitor Centre.
Local and unique gifts for sale in the gift shop.
Tourist Information Centre.
Parking across three car parks and Park and Ride facility.

Family Facilities

Baby-changing facilities.
Pushchairs and baby back-carriers admitted.
Accessible path for pushchairs.
Dogs must be kept on a leash.

Prices


 Pre-purchase and save: £1 on adult admission, 75p on child admission and £2.50 on family admission.

 Go green and save: Arrive by public transport, bicycle or on foot and save £1.50 on adult admission , £1 on child admission and £3 on family admission. Green admission discount also available from Park and Ride in Bushmills village (March to October). Green savings applied at admission point. Shuttlebus to stones is operated by Translink and a separate charge applies to non-members.

Prices include car parking and entry to the visitors centre.

Prices accurate as of 2014.

Adult £8.50
Child £4.25
Family £21.00
Group adult £6.50
Group child £3.25

In The Beginning

aerial view of the causeway

When the news of the "discovery" of an amazing natural phenomenon broke on an unsuspecting world in 1693 it was by the presentation of a paper to the Royal Society from Sir Richard Bulkeley, a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. The "discoverer" had, in fact, been the then Bishop of Derry a year earlier. The news caused quite a stir in 'the polite society' of the time and in 1697 a draughtsman was sent to make drawings of the Natural Curiosity on the North East tip of the island of Ireland.

What seems remarkable to us now, in the 21st century, is that there was much argument as to whether the Causeway had been created by men with picks and chisels, by nature, or by the efforts of a giant. For in the 17th century nothing like it had been seen before. As an artist, Miss Susanna Drury spent, in 1740, quite some period of months on site. Depicting the magnificence that she found, ensured that the Causeway became noted on The Grand Tour. And it was not until 1771 that a Frenchman, Demarest, announced the origin of the causeway to be the result of volcanic action.

Geology

Sixty million years ago Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten rock was forced up through fissures in the chalk bed to form an extensive lava plateau.

The dramatic cliff like edge of the plateau forms the Causeway coastline. The larger fissures, through which the lava flowed, can be clearly seen as bands of dark rock which cut down the cliff faces and jut out to sea. There were three periods of volcanic activity which resulted in the flows, known as the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts.

It is the Middle Basalts rocks which forms the columns of the Giants Causeway. The rapidly cooling lava contracted and variations in the cooling rate resulted in the world famous columnar structure.

The columns are mainly hexagonal though there are some with up to eight sides. Weathering of the top of of the lower Basalts formed the Inter Basaltic Bed - the band of reddish rock which is a feature of the area. The same action of the weather created circular formations round a nugget of basalt which are known locally as "giants eyes".

Some other formations with popular names are the Chimney Stacks, The Harp, The Organ and the Camel's Hump.

a view across the hexagonal stones

Local Wildlife

Perhaps less well known is the fact that the area is a haven for sea birds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank guillemot and razorbill. Rock pippits and wagtails explore the shoreline and eider duck are found in sheltered water.

The National Trust has made an inventory of rare and interesting plants which have survived the feet of many thousands of visitors. They include sea spleenwort, hare's foot trefoil, vernal squill, sea fescue and frog orchid making this an exciting place for botanists, with also, in summer, great stretches of sea campion.

The Giants Causeway has something to offer almost every interest, be it plants to be viewed through a magnifying glass or standing in awe among the columns.

As you leave, look over your shoulder and with eyes half closed you may just catch a glimpse of the giant form of Finn McCool striding among his works.

a view down the stones to the sea

Once Upon a Time

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Walks

a view looking at the side of taller stones
a view looking up across the stones

Giants Causeway Walk

There are two ways to approach the Giants Causeway. It can be reached directly by road, either on foot or using the seasonal Ulsterbus service (buses accessible for people with disabilities.) 0.8km, 0.5 mile to Giants Causeway. A longer circular walk follows the cliff path to the Shepherd's Steps and back via the Giants Causeway. 3km, almost 2 miles.

The Organ to Reostan

The spectacular cliff-face columns of the Organ can be reached by the lower path, either from the Giants Causeway or the Shepherd's Steps. This path continues a further 500m to Port Reostan viewpoint. The gate here marks the end of the lower path. Along this route you will see the "Giants Eyes," oval sockets in the reddish iron ore layer where basalt boulders have fallen out. This path is surfaced but narrow. 3.5km, just over 2 miles.

Runkerry Circuit

This walk follows the cliff top path west, past the Causeway Hotel and Runkerry House. Along this route are two stockproof gates and some steps. Dogs must be on leads please. Cliffs and bays, with views to Portrush, and Donegal beyond. Return by inland way-marked route via the old tram track to Visitor Centre. The cliff path is surfaced at first, changing to grass or soil underfoot, with a little road walking to finish. 4km, 2.5 miles.

Dunseverick Castle

This route starts at the far end of the small car park on the minor road below the Visitor Centre car parks. The Causeway Coast path follows the old tram track (hydro-electric tram linking Causeway Head with Portrush, 1887 - 1949) until within sight of the metal bridge spanning the River Bush. Waymarkers then take you to the footbridge at the rivermouth. Continue uphill to the car park at Portballintrae. Mostly surfaced path, except for sandy and grassy section by river. 2km, 1.2 miles. The Causeway Coast path continues west from Portballintrae.

Portallintrae via old tram track

A longer walk along the top of the high cliffs. The path is narrow in places with mostly grass or soil surfaces, which are slippery when wet. Spectacular cliff scenery, including Port-na-Spaniagh ("Girona" wreck site). 8km, 5 miles. The Causeway Coast path continues east from Dunseverick Castle. The B146 road will take you back to the Visitor Centre directly, an additional 4.5km, 2.8 miles.

World Heritage

The Giants Causeway was included on the World Heritage site list in November 1986. It is on the list as both a cultural and natural site, one of only 25 in the world to achieve this status. This is because the Causeway meets two of UNESCO's criteria for this:

(1) It is a prime example of earth's evolutionary history during the tertiary epoch.

(2) It contains rare and superlative natural phenomena

The site also has outstanding cultural value in that it contains the wreck of the Girona.

The Giant's Causeway lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the sea coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland. It is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea. The dramatic sight has inspired legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland. Geological studies of these formations over the last 300 years have greatly contributed to the development of the earth sciences, and show that this striking landscape was caused by volcanic activity during the Tertiary, some 50-60 million years ago.

looking across a mountain of stones to the sea
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