Our final destination along The Causeway Coastal Tour landed us at The Giant’s Causeway. From the stones in the car park to the columns encasing the Visitor Centre, the hexagonal theme greeted us right from the beginning, leading us to the final causeway that inspired the honeycomb shapes.
We gathered our tickets at the Visitor Centre where guests are immediately immersed into the story of The Giant’s Causeway. This historical site, recently added as a World Heritage site, told the tale of a giant, Finn McCool, from so long ago.
We had the option to explore on a self-tour with map in hand, or pick up the audio tour devices at a counter just outside the Visitor Centre. We chose to use the audio tour, and it made for a much more enjoyable experience. We each got our own handy handheld device to listen to, including Kieghan. They had a special audio tour, geared just for kids.
Venturing down the hill (a rather large hill!) and into the causeways, we began the audio tour, selecting the appropriate audio clip for the corresponding numbers along the path. I must admit, Kieghan was quite a stickler about us all being on the same audio clip. We tended to follow his lead, “Is your #2 over? Ok, ready, set, everyone push #3!”
At the bottom of the hill, the audio narrator informed us that that was the windiest point in Northern Ireland. Now, honestly, I was expecting it to be like a wind tunnel, but for us, it was a little more than a gentle breeze. Perhaps it wasn’t so windy the day we were there. It was pointed out that the hills that extend into the ocean were referred to as the camel. The resemblance is evident, the two hills together looked like two humps of a camel’s back.
Continuing our journey along the winding path, we came across a fork where we could choose to take the blue path or continue onto the other red, green and yellow paths. We chose to take the blue path due to its proximity to the water, and the number of people gathered at the end of the path. We presumed that this was an indication that we had reached the Holy Grail of the Giant’s Causeway. Oh, indeed we did!
The honeycomb of rocks and columns were visible from every angle, no matter which way you turned. Udder disbelief of the amazing site we were looking at overwhelmed us. The hexagonal shapes ranged in height from low to high, in a sort of wave pattern. It looked as if the rocks should have been moving in the motion of the ocean.
We had such a grand time venturing out and onto the rocks to get a closer look! Other visitors climbed higher and further out, but with the kids, we opted to stay along the inner rocks for their safety.
Awestruck and bewildered, we continued our audio tour around the bend. With green cliffs towering above us along our path, another opening greeted us with more earthly beauty. The same hexagonal rocks continued, except this time they were splayed out along a more even surface. A peculiar large, curved rock sat atop the honeycomb rocks like a sitting duck. This rock was believed to be Finn’s boot, the giant that once lived there. It was so big, that grown adults could sit right inside the curve of the boot!
Beyond the boot, looking up into the cliffside, vertical columns appeared to be nestled into the face of the cliffs. According to the audio narrator and keeping with the legend, these were the pipes from Finn’s organ. In the early morning hours on Christmas Day, it is believed that as the sun rises over the causeway, you can still hear the organ playing from those columns.
As we wrapped up the audio tour, we could have walked further along the path. With Kieghan aboard, his legs were limited on energy, and we had a large hill to climb back up.
So, back to the Visitor Centre we headed, and for the sake of making it feel like a shorter walk, we offered Kieghan to listen to the audio clips in reverse order. He thought that was the best idea! As we reached the final stretch of the hill, Kieghan said his legs wouldn’t work anymore. I couldn’t blame him too much, it was quite a hike! Andy and I agreed that we would have had a more difficult time getting up the hill, ourselves, when we had first arrived. With all the walking we do on a daily basis, it was easier, but still took some effort!
Alas, we all made it back to the car and back home to Dublin. What an amazing weekend we had!
So, how did the rocks get their shape, and why is it called Giant’s Causeway? It is a tale of two stories:
The Scientific Story: Geologists say that a volcanic eruption took place many years ago that covered the land between what is now, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Once the lava cooled, the rocks split evenly into hexagonal columns, then hardened to form these precarious looking rocks. There are about 40, 000 interlocking basalt columns that resulted from this eruption. Similar rocks can be seen in Scotland, too.
The Legend: Legend has it that the causeway was the home of an Irish giant, Finn McCool. I would tell the tale, but I feel you would have a better time listening and watching it instead. The legend is told in the video below.
Whichever story suits you best, one thing is certain, the Giant’s Causeway is a stunning representation of years past. An amazing scene that gives testament to the world’s glorious sights.
This is a great website with information about the Giant’s Causeway, including the historical and geological data for the site.
Want to see more photos? Head on over to The Giant’s Causeway Gallery!