Giant’s Causeway with Kids, Northern Ireland
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Giant’s Causeway is likely the main driver for most visits to Northern Ireland. We were excited to have the chance to visit Giant’s Causeway with kids after missing it on our Ireland trip in 2011. Sure, the weather in early January was grey, windy and wet. That somehow only enhances the charm of this incredible geological feature.
When we arrived at Giant’s Causeway the kids were starving, despite having just had some cake. We popped into The Nook, a cozy restaurant just outside the entrance to Giants Causeway. This pub has a parking lot in the back and plenty of warm cozy seating inside. The food is traditional Irish pub food, but what more could you want on a cold windy day? We asked at the bar and the staff said we could leave our car in the parking lot while we headed down to Giant’s Causeway.
We walked across the street to the visitors center. This is where things get confusing. If you go into the visitors center you are asked to purchase a ticket. This ticket includes access to the visitors center, an outdoor audio guide, an orientation leaflet and parking. We were warned about this from the people at the Nook. Instead of going into the visitors center we walked through the car tunnel and right to the path that leads down to the causeway. This option is free.
In nice weather I would advise walking down the 1km road to the causeway stones. There are a few things to see on the way and the coastline is lovely. We however did not have nice weather. It was pouring. We purchased round trip bus tickets and happily enjoyed our ride to the bottom. (The bus costs £1 per person or £2 return (0.50p or £1 per child).) But why not do the downhill part on foot?
Honestly we were blown away when we got to the stones. We just couldn’t get enough. We kept getting cold and wet and saying we were going to leave on the next bus and then the rain would clear and back out on the stones we went.
This is one of those things that really you have to see in person to truly appreciate. It is similar to a visit we had to Devil’s Postpile when we lived in California. However the location of Giant’s Causeway extending out into the sea is just incredible.
There are several areas to explore. In good weather I also recommend you hike a bit around the beach for some different views. We were worried about getting stranded with no cover in a downpour and stuck close to the main area.
I was initially weary of the kids scrambling over the stones. The Middle and Little Little preferred to stay in the carriers. This freed up the Big Little to do some real exploring. Once we got out on the stones I felt more confident in having the kids explore here. There are also lots of staff members out on the rocks making sure everyone is staying away from the breaking waves. The staff members each had a First Aid kid too.
We were glad to be in our wellies here. They don’t grip as well as our hiking shoes but the stones fill with water and it was nice to have warm feet as we explored. Plus we could focus on the best path over the stones without worrying about the water.
The kids were completely enthralled by the story of the giants building a road to reach each other, the trickery that followed and the subsequent destruction of the road. We came across several wonderfully fun books about the legend. You can check out this easy reader Fin Maccool and the Giant’s Causeway or The Story of Giant’s Causeway.
The Big Little (and Jeff) were dying to explore some of the higher stones. Jeff took the Middle Little off and they headed up the hill. We saw quite a few people slip and fall up there. Jeff and the Big Little took it slowly and had a great time doing a bit of rock scrambling.
A beautiful rainbow made an appearance just as we were worried we would get wet again.
As you can tell from all the photos I just couldn’t get enough of this incredible place. It’s such a testament for getting out in any weather and exploring. I’m going to leave you with a video of the water crashing into the rock formation.
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