On the shoulders of Giant’s Causeway

The Offbeat Black Hills
When the Flood Waters Rise [Safety]

Giant’s Causeway is legendary:

Twenty-one miles from the shores of Scotland lies a stretch of surreal rock and sea, on the north coast of Northern Ireland.

Legend tells that the Irish giant Finn McCool was called to an epic duel by Benandonner, his Scottish rival. Not one to say no to a challenge, Finn took matters into his own hands and built a stretch of volcanic basalt between the two ancient nations.

Finn’s wife, Oonagh, hides Finn himself in a baby’s swaddling bundle, and presents this “baby” to Benandonner at the meeting place in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim. Terrified of how big this supposed baby’s father might be, Benandonner flees County Antrim in terror, destroying the bridge Finn had raised across the blustery North Channel.

In the wake of this legend remain mysterious and beautiful pillars of hexagonal rock.

A breathtaking view of County Antrim's geological jewel.
A breathtaking view of County Antrim’s geological jewel.

Giant’s Causeway, one of Northern Ireland’s most visited attractions, was formed as volcanic floods seeped through layers of Paleogene chalk, 60 million years ago. The chalk contracted and crumbled away, leaving behind the iconic spires of dark rock that inspired generations of artwork and one famous Led Zeppelin album cover.

Pick up a great audio tour at the expansive Visitors Centre, completed in July 2012, or join an experienced tour guide on a leisurely stroll along the paved main road. Breathe in the salt air and take in the breathtaking geological views.

Highlights along the winding Causeway Coast are not only spectacular sights, they tie in to the legend of McCool–check out the hiking trail and discover rock formations with curious names like the Camel, the Giant’s Boot, and the Wishing Chair.

If you do plan to hike, remember to keep safety in mind:

  • Bring a first aid kit and more food and water than you think you’ll need.
  • Don’t hike alone–it can be dangerous on the slippery, rocky paths.
  • Take breaks to enjoy the view and the breeze–and to keep your strength.
  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes, bring a flashlight (“torch” in the UK) and make sure your phone is charged.

The Causeway is located two miles from Bushmills Village, and is easily accessible by the B147 Causeway Road. Local accommodations are available and, because it’s Ireland, are adorable and quaint.

More information is available at the UK’s National Trust:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway/

The Offbeat Black Hills
When the Flood Waters Rise [Safety]
  • we visited just a few weeks ago and I was amazed just how much of a causeway there was – things always sound better in guide books, but actually – it really is good and well worth a visit!