Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Walking the Red Trail at the Giant's Causeway

We recently spent the most incredible weekend in Northern Ireland. We were based near Ballycastle and had spent the Saturday in Mussenden Temple and Lissanoure Castle for the wedding of my lovely friend Liz and Stewart. The wedding was a fabulous all-day affair where we ate, drank and ate some more. Suffice to say, we needed to air out the cobwebs on Sunday morning and headed to the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim.

We chose the Red Trail which promised a 3 mile walk with spectacular views away from the crowds of people heading straight to the Causeway steps. The Red Trail itself is 2 miles but joins up with the Blue Trail which is 0.8 miles.

While we could see people on the Blue Trail below, we were quite alone on the Red Trail and were able to see right around us from the sea to our left, the hills and greenery on the trail, and fields and farms to our right.

The Red Trail is well-signposted which means that I didn’t manage to get us lost and take us on a detour, something which I am becoming quite known for.

We couldn’t have picked a better day for our walk. There was a slight wind which meant we weren’t too warm but we could definitely feel the effects of the vitamin D seeping into our bodies. Spring came late to my corner of England this year so this was a much-appreciated change.

We soon came to the Shepherd’s Steps which is 162 steps leading down the cliff. We met some very tired people near the top of the steps who were walking the route in reverse. They were clearly fit and healthy but also clearly struggling to climb the steps with massive backpacks on their backs!

Note! If you carry on straight at Shepherd’s Steps instead of climbing down them, you can follow the Yellow Trail to get an aerial view of the Amphitheatre. We did not realise this and now I have to go back one day to see it!

We continued our walk along the Red Trail, past the Organ and to the end of the path. It's difficult to describe how massive the Organ is - it is very tall with a narrow path before it and I had to crouch down to get its full height in this photo.

Turning back, we joined the Blue Trail and found ourselves at sea level.

I loved how calm and idyllic the area is. It was quiet too. Stephen and I wondered how many creatures make their home here in an area that clearly takes a battering when the weather turns.

As we approached the Giant's Causeway, we met this imposing wall of rock. It feels so majestic and grand – I can see why people believed the area to have been touched by giants. (This is probably not the time to mention that Stephen had believed the area to be man-made before we visited it).

We finally made it to the famous steps. I found it difficult to take inspiring photos in the glaring midday sunshine and momentarily wished for stormy, imposing weather. Now that I think about it, I’d wish a hundred times over for clear skies, incredible views and a long walk in the sunshine over a moody five minutes on the steps. Indeed, my Northern Irish friend Jude assures me that Giant’s Causeway is far more fun in the sunshine.

We continued along the Blue Trail back to the entrance and then stopped off for a shandy and delicious open face prawn sandwich at the Nook pub. Highly recommended!

Tips for visiting the Giant’s Causeway: it is free to walk along the trails and on the Giant’s Causeway. You do not need to purchase a ticket to the visitors centre but you can make a donation if you’d like to contribute to the upkeep of the area and maintenance of the trails.

Parking at the Giant’s Causeway: you can park at the visitors centre for £5 but it can fill up. We chose to park a short walk down the road at Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills Railway, 6 Runkerry Rd, Bushmills BT57 8SZ. We will definitely be taking a trip on that railway next time we visit!

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© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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