The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is one of Ireland's biggest natural attractions. It consists of  a coastal section which, in addidtion to its extreme ruggedness, displays many peculiar rock columns that almost look as though they've been fabricated by humans rather than nature. 

This geological phenomenon came about, as molten rocks (lava) were cooling off. According to a legend, however, the Giant's Causeway was created by Giant Finn McCool as he wanted to travel  over to Scotland without getting wet feet. Hence the name.

The Giant's Causeway is a National Trust property. Wheelchair access used to be excellent, but right now things are rather uncertain, because the award-winning, completely accessible Visitors Centre was destroyed by a fire in April 2000.



This is a view from the visitors centre to the driveway leading down to the actual Giant's Causeway which is situated  further down, behind that ridge around which the driveway wraps itself. It doesn't look like it on the picture, but the driveway is quite steep. There is a bus taking people down and back up every 15 minutes, for which there is a small charge. Private cars aren't allowed on this road as it is reserved to pedestrians and National Trust vehicles.

My charming  travel mates Giulia and Claudia, standing at the visitors centre (left) and being framed by some of the basalt columns (right) of wich the Giant's Causeway consists. 

A few notes on the region

Having stayed in the coastal regions of Northern Ireland for little more than one day, all I dare to say is that this is way too little time to explore all the region's outstandingly beautiful natural and cultural sights. Our travel route along the northern coast touched a number of very beautiful resorts. Many have paved promenades, and at least the larger towns all seem to have facilities for the disabled. 

We also visited Londonderry's inner city (town walls partly accessible through ramps) which is nice, but very steep with narrow streets and therefore a bit difficult for wheelchair users to get around. 
If your able-bodied travel mates set off to surround the city centre on its town walls, calculate about an hour's time for this. 

The tourist brochure did not contain any information on disabled access. There didn't seem to be that many disabled parking spaces either. After being misguided by a stupidly-placed sign apparently pointing to a closed car-park, I found an accessible loo in that shopping center containing the Marks & Spencer department store. Might not be open 24 hours a day, but was open on Sunday. 

Conclusion: Looks like the city could use some improvements in accessibility for the disabled. It may well be, though, that there still exist more urgent problems to solve in this city. 

For an in-depth discussion of the "Bloody Sunday" event taking place in Londonderry and its significance for the conflict  in Northern Ireland, I suggest visiting the CAIN Project Website. 

Clouds over the River Foyle estuary north of Londonderry


  • The National Trust, an organisation devoting itself to the conservation of important historic and natural places throughout the UK. The website contains useful information on all properties managed by the National Trust, including access for the disabled.
  • Views of Northern Ireland -- pictures and information not just on the Giant's Causeway, but also many other scenic places in the region
  • Portrush -- the biggest resort on the Antrim coastline.
  • Moyle District Council Tourism page -- Moyle is the district whose area comprises most of Northern Ireland's scenic coastline as well as the famous Glens of Antrim
  • CAIN Project. This acronym stands for Conflict Archive on the Internet. The conflict in question being the Northern Ireland one, of course. For everyone interested in thorough, balanced information on a scientific level, this is an inevitable website.


Accessibility Information

Considering the rugged environment, disabled access to this major tourist destination is very good indeed. I was both surprised and impressed. The visitors centre and the adjacent parking lot is completely accessible to wheelchair users. There's a couple of ramps inside and outside which  might be a bit steep for people with limited armpower, but there'll always be someone around to give a hand. Fully accessible loo; the key is to be obtained from the centre's main souvenir counter.
The bus taking people up and down from the visitors centre
The "Causeway coaster" has a special wheelchair compartment in the back. The ride is free of charge for disabled people. There are these typical mounts on the bus floor to lock and buckle up wheelchairs. I didn't see any of the straps though and wasn't buckled up either. However, due to the steepness of the terrain, this might be advisable for people who have difficulties preventing themselves from  moving or tipping over.

Down on the coastal  level, there is one footpath along the coastline which wheelchair folks can use for the first 200 meters or so until it bends and goes straight uphill. Except for the paved driveway, all other trails are pretty much impossible, including the one leading from the visitor's centre to the nearby clifftop. 

The driveway itself looks manageable for manual wheelchairs, also in its steep upper part. It will give you quite a nice workout!

On Sunday April 30th 2000, the Giant's Causeway visitor centre was destroyed by a fire. All respective services are not available at the moment. Plans for a temporary replacement are under way, but as of now it is unclear which disabled services will be available. Calling the National Trust or the center's owner, Moyle District Council before visiting might be a good idea. Amazingly, there is no tourist site about the Giant's Causeway yet that has put this important information on the web. The information is 100 % accurate, though.


We stayed at the Valley View B&B in Bushmills, approximately 6 miles south of the Giant's Causeway, and I whole-heartedly recommend this place  to wheelchair users and able-bodied travellers alike! There is one fully accessible, very tastefully furnished en-suite bedroom (wheel-in shower/shower seat). Prices p/p/night between 15 and 22 pounds, including a very good breakfast. The proprietors are exceptionally hospitable and truly enjoy accomodating their guests.

According to the accommodation guide for the Antrim Coast & Glens, there are several other places suitable for wheelchairs in the area.  The brochure is called "Where To Stay" and can be obtained at any Tourist Information Center in Northern Ireland. Take my advice and try the Valley View B&B first!


Support the peace campaign for Northern Ireland

Between 1968 and 1998, 3,500 people were killed in the Northern Ireland conflict, and the violence hasn't fully stopped yet. The people of Northern Irleand both need and deserve all the support they can get to put an end to the "troubles" and bring lasting peace to this otherwise so beautiful region of Europe. 

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