After driving the coastline of eastern Northern Ireland, much of which very attractive landscapes with villages, deep green meadows, islets, and views of Scotland in the distance, we arrive at the Giant's Causeway. Expecting an area of peaceful nature, it comes as a small shock to discover a vast parking lot full of tour buses and cars, a visitor centre tucked away in the green landscape, and a steep entrance fee. Before we know it, we get a headset which tells us the stories behind the Giant's Causeway in our own language, and in a rather childish way. We decide to walk, and find the asphalted road very crowded. Just think that this is not even high season. Taking pictures of the coastline requires patience and imagination if one does not want too many people in them. Enjoying the nature as is, is out of the question.
We walk past a small bay with rock formations and hills, and then arrive at the second bay where we see the Giant's Causeway just ahead, covered with people. According to legend, an Irish giant called Finn MacCool lived here, and was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant Benandonner who used a causeway built by Finn to walk over the ocean. Appearing much bigger than Finn, his wife played a trick on Benandonner to make him think that Finn was just Finn's baby, after which Benandonner escaped back to Scotland, destroying the causeway as he strode across the ocean. More likely, the landscape was formed by volcanic eruptions and the subsequent cooling of the lava some 50-60 million years ago. The Giant's Causeway are a collection of tens of thousands of mostly hexagonal basalt rock formations, perfectly fitting in together, giving the impression of a honeycomb.
The waves surround the black basalt blocks, and indeed, the view of these curiously shaped rocks is special. When a light drizzle comes down, we are summoned to stay clear of the sea, as the rocks become very slippery. We continue walking the trail along the bay, past the Boot and the Organ, both formations of easily recognizable shapes, until we reach a higher vantage point. The sun is back, and the views are stupendous: to the west, we see the rugged coastline of Giant's Causeway and beyond, while to the east, volcanic rocks rise steeply from the ocean deep below us. There are less people here, and I step over the low fence, and climb down for even better views. Finally, a spot to be alone, to listen to the big ocean waves crashing against the black rocks below. When we walk back towards the entrance, most of the crowds have disappeared, which immediately gives the place a much better feel. Why on earth close this several hours before sunset though? Just imagine soft pre-sunset light falling on this spectacular landscape...
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Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Giant's Causeway (United Kingdom). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Giant's Causeway. Read more about this site.