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A Weekend with Kids at Giants Causeway, Ireland
A Weekend with Kids at Giants Causeway, Ireland

Giants Causeway


Photo by Rebecca Allen

By Rebecca Allen, Irish Craftworkers Good Life

You need to know more than distance to estimate driving times in Ireland. Even with 18 years of experience at the wheel, I can still get it wrong. Leitrim to Bushmills? 'Two hours, three for pit stops for the children,' I mused knowingly. Wrong! It took four, without stopping. Thus in keeping with the classic Irish response to requests for directions 'well you don't want to start from here'. Thankfully, I planned one thing right. We were booked in the perfect place to sooth road weary souls, the exquisite olde world Bushmills Inn. After a superb dinner, two hours from start to finish, we were once again ready for the family weekend ahead.

On the first morning we set out to fulfill the main objective of our trip. We paid the £5 fee for the car park and set off down the little lane to the green coastal valley below. I'm glad we didn't take the mini-bus from the visitor centre, walking gave us time to develop a sense of occasion and anticipation. Having visited Giants Causeway as a child, I was thrilled to be introducing my husband and children to this Irish landmark I recalled so well. Yet I was also anxious. Would my childhood memories let me down? Not a chance. The breathtaking beauty worked its magic on me once again. My family was spellbound.

The shortest available metaphorical reins are required on all children at the Causeway. You would be somewhat challenged to design a more dangerous playground. Slippery rocks, sheer drops and crashing Atlantic waves means guardians must be hawk eyed at all times.

Thanks to the children, who ensured we rose from our slumber at 7am, we arrived at Giant's Causeway early, around 10. We were glad we did. As we headed out at lunchtime, the peace had given way to chatter from the coach tour crowd. Not only was it impossible to get in the last shot without catching the head of an unsuspecting tourist, it was impossible to get our noses in door of the visitor centre restaurant.

At the suggestion of the attendant, we headed over to the Nook, a beautiful stone pub located at the entrance to the Causeway car park. We were glad we did. The décor is delightful olde world Shaker without the usual kitsch undertones and it has a bona-fide no smoking section. What's more, the pub serves excellent food and there were no long, snaking queues.

Food engines refueled we set off to the spectacular Dunluce Castle perched precariously on the cliffs only 3 miles west of Giant's Causeway. We followed the trail into the bowels of the ruins and watched the waves crash at the entrance to the sea cave. Hawk eyes and short reins were again a necessity!

The last morning of our family weekend getaway at the Causeways was rainy so we set out in search of indoor activities. In Portrush, we found the Countryside Centre on the seafront. The rock pool touch tank stocked with native sea creatures provided a perfect diversion for the kids. And Geraldine, an employee, was the perfect host. Her stories sparked the interest of the children and hooked their attention. And when the rain slowed, Geraldine led the kids on a fossil hunt on the rocky shore just in front of the centre.

As is typical of Ireland, the weather changed more than once that day. While we enjoyed a lazy lunch on the Port Stewart seafront the clouds moved on. So we headed east from Giant's Causeway to the secluded White Park Bay. The car park is situated above on the cliffs, the beach roughly a 10 minute walk below. I indulged in a Tai Chi set immersed in the glory of nature while the children ran with their kites and collected shells. It was a great end to a fantastic family weekend!

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