Visiting the Giant’s Causeway, and parking near it, is free for National Trust members, or £5 per car if you’re not a member and don’t want to go to the visitors’ centre. That parking charge gets progressively cheaper the more people you take in your car, but if it’s just you, you fancy the walk and want to do it for free, then Dunseverick, around 8km away, is a good option. The coastal walk isn’t too strenuous – it’s only when you get to the Causeway that you have a large drop, around 100m to the coast – and the views are spectacular.
The car park in Dunseverick, marked as “Dunseverick Castle car park“, is free but popular and not huge. There are a couple of lay-bys, too. One is right next to the castle car park, the other a little further down Causeway Road to the East (away from the Causeway). The castle is an atmospheric small ruin that you can see on your walk to the coastal path.
The coastal path is easy to find, and not far from the car park, and you just follow it. After just over 7km, having expected an 8km walk, you’ll be pleased to find you are already at a sign offering a way down to the Causeway. Here’s your decision – do you take the steepish (but well maintained) steps down, or continue along the path to follow a much gentler, significantly longer route round the back. In the photo above, the steps are close on the right, while the coastal path continues around the headland you can see. The causeway is visible, sticking out into the sea, and the easier path comes at it from behind.
I chose the stairs, which then took me onto the path you can see above, and then walked to the causeway. It’s a lovely way to arrive, though the other way lets you see the columns from a distance as you approach. I was lucky, in that this was during the first summer of the pandemic so it was quiet however you came at it, but at busier times going down the steps should allow a more peaceful approach. You can’t avoid finding people on the causeway, though.
The views of the Causeway itself are well worth the walk, even if the actual site itself is not enormous. It is atmospheric, though, and as it stretches away into the sea it is easy to imagine it once stretched for miles. The stones are fairly easy to scramble up if you want to walk out to the edge, or near it. There is a tougher scramble when you first get to the Causeway, if you approach from the steps side, but you can just walk round the other side.
I chose to take the steps down and then the longer route on the way back, to give the chance to take in different views as much to save my legs from the climb. There is a bench at the top of the steps that allows recuperation but I just didn’t take it on.
It’s a good walk back, with similar views, only reversed, and just as gorgeous in even half-decent weather. The whole thing was 16.15km, and took me about 3 and a quarter hours. I was glad of a sit-down at the end. I did, though, have time to stop at The Dark Hedges, which is a very quick sight to see and makes for great photos. They were used in Game of Thrones which I haven’t seen, but I still enjoyed my quick visit. As you may guess from the photos, you can’t drive along this bit of the road, but parking is not far away from either end.
There are lots of beautiful natural sights/sites in Ireland, but these are two of the finest in Northern Ireland, and you can visit them at minimal cost.