The Ulster Way
Clare starts in Northern Ireland, walking a 10 mile section of The Ulster Way between the Giant’s Causeway and White Park Bay. In its entirety, the Ulster Way is over 560 miles long and is a series of walking routes, encircling the Irish province of Ulster, with the majority lying within Northern Ireland and the remainder in the Republic. It was established in the 1970s by Wilfred Capper who had been inspired to set it up, after walking Tom Stephenson’s Pennine Way.
Clare is accompanied by Ronnie Irvine, an avid geologist, and Reg Magowan who through his links with the Youth Hostel Association met Wilfred Capper. Against the background of the roar of the Atlantic waves crashing onto the cliffs, Clare hears tales of Spanish Armada shipwrecks, mystical castles and the legendary mischief of giants! This is a truly memorable walk on a stunning stretch of coastline.
Map: OS of N. Ireland Discoverer Series Sheet 5
Start: Giant’s Causeway Car Park
Start Grid Ref: 944440
End: Youth Hostel, White Park Bay
End Grid Ref: 014436
Distance: 10-11 miles (can be shortened at various points)
Terrain: Cliff paths, rocky beaches and some steep steps
Suitable for: most keen walkers.
Start at the car park and follow the road down to the Giant’s Causeway. Take in the extraordinary geology of the amazing array of the 40,000 or so basalt columns.
Leave the Causeway via the Giant’s Gate which affords excellent views of the Organ on the cliffs ahead. Cross the bay and take the steep steps up to the cliff path.
Follow the cliff path to Port na Spainaigh where the Armada ship, the Girona sank in 1588, leaving only 5 survivors.
Continue on the cliff path to the ruined Dunseverick Castle, capital of the kingdom of Dalriada. On a clear day there are excellent views of Rathlin Island and beyond to Scotland, taking in Islay, the Paps of Jura, Mull of Kintyre and Arran.
The path drops down gradually to sea level, crossing several bays and eventually passes through a natural arch in the rock, opening up to the stunning limestone cliffs of White Park Bay.
Follow the bay round to the tiny fishing village of Portbraddan, just 6 or so houses, including Ireland’s smallest church (12’x 6 ½’) called St Gobhan’s. (not always open)
The walk ends at the Youth Hostel in White Park Bay which has a plaque in memory of Wilfred Capper.