The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

September 15, 2011

Recently I was over in Northern Ireland and while we were there we paid a visit to the Giant’s Causeway. Situated on the Antrim coastline the Giant’s Causeway is a World Heritage Site and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is well worth a visit if you get a chance. The drive to reach it up the Antrim coast is rather spectacular as well, with the road passing beside towering cliffs on one side and Irish Sea on the other. There are also a number of seaside villages, if you are looking for a place to stop for lunch.

When you reach the Giant’s Causeway there are plenty of places to park. At the top of the cliff is the Causeway hotel and the visitor centre, which at the moment is being rebuilt. You have the choice of walking down the cliff to the Giant’s Causeway or catching a small shuttle bus.  While the walk down is not bad, the walk up is very steep so it is worth catching the bus if you are not very fit.
The Giant’s Causeway is an amazing causeway that is formed from Hexagonal shaped rocks.  There are estimates that over 40,ooo of these stones exist on and around the Causeway, although I am not sure how they get the estimate. There are also a number of unique features in the landscape which have gained descriptive names such as The Giant’s Organ, The Wishing Chair and the Chimney Stacks.  When you look closely at the stones they are very impressive.

The stones were formed around 62/65 millon years ago during a time of volcanic activity.  The molten lava cooled very quickly as it came into contact with the water and the rocks crystallised into these distinctive patterns.  I personally prefer the story that it was formed by Finn MacCool, who was the leader of the Fianna who were the guardians of the King of Ireland. Finn was going about his duties when a Scottish giant, who was called Benandonner started shouting insults at him. Bear in mind that you can see the Scottish coast from the Giant’s Causeway, in fact it looks near enough to swim across. After several hours of listening to these insults Finn got annoyed and threw a lump of earth at the giant. The giant threw a rock back shouting at Finn it was a shame he could not swim or he would come across the channel  and make sure Finn would never fight again. This made Finn so mad he started tearing off bits of the cliffs and building the Giant’s Causeway until it reached Scotland. He then shouted at the giant to come over the do his worst! Finn however was really tried having been building the Causeway for a week. His wife Una came up with a plan to help him recover. They made a giant cot and dressed Finn up like a baby.  When the giant came over he saw the baby asleep in the cot and got a bit worried wondering how big his father must be. He put his hand out to touch the baby and Finn bit his finger off.  At this point the giant got scared and ran back to Scotland, pulling out the columns to stop Finn following him. There is another similar rock formation in Scotland at Staffa called  (Fingal’s Cave).

You can take a cliff-top path and walk around the Giant’s Causeway and get a bit closer to some of the amazing rock formations found there. The Giant’s Organ is about a miles walk.

If you were to walk the full path it is an 11 mile route which will take you to Carrick-a-Rede.  This is a close up of the Chimney Stacks which are set up on a cliff overlooking the main causeway.

The Girona was shipwrecked on the cliffs near here, she was a ship from the Spanish Armada. Treasure was found in the remains of the wreckage and it can be seen in the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

5 responses to “The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland”

  1. Coistycat says:

    It is an amazing place to visit, it is one of my best memories from my visit to Northern Ireland xx

  2. One of my favourite places… hope you were daring enough to cross the Carrick-a-Rede bridge? When we used to go as kids it didn’t have all then nets down the sides, I can’t believe I used to go across then! x

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