Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Exploring the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland; it was created by a volcano that left around 40,000 basalt columns which appear to rise up out of the sea. Originally I wasn’t too thrilled about visiting this area, but I figured we had to make a stop since we were so close, and I’m very glad we did. The area is beautiful and great to wander around for an afternoon or more; there are stunning cliffs and miles of hiking paths. I loved exploring the different shapes and views of the endless basalt columns as well as learning about the history of the area.

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

Myth and legend surround the creation of the causeway, and there are many different versions of the famous legend all featuring the giant, Finn McCool. In one such version, it is thought that Finn created the causeway as a path to fight the Scottish giant, Benandonner, who continuously taunted him from across the sea. When Finn realized how large Benandonner was, he decided that fighting might not be the best idea so he dressed up like a baby to fool the Scottish giant. When Benandonner saw how large the “baby” was, he could only think how large the father must be, and he quickly escaped along the causeway, destroying it in his path so Finn couldn’t follow. To this day, the causeway can be seen along both the Scottish and Northern Ireland coast, but the Northern Ireland side is much more famous.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

The geological explanation of how the causeway came to be is much less entertaining. Around 50 to 60 million years ago, the volcanic activity in this area was very intense and created a lava plateau. When the lava was cooling, it contracted and fractured down into the plateau causing column like segments. The columns were also fractured horizontally into what are called biscuits and are what we see today. Whatever story you wish to believe, it is still a magical sight, and here is a mini photo tour to showcase the stunning rocks:

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

A brand new visitors center opened in 2012 and entry is €8.50 per person which includes on-site parking. If you don’t care about access to the visitor center you can park nearby and walk to the causeway to avoid the charge. However, inside the visitor center you will find a cafe, gift shop, restrooms, an exhibition exploring the Giant’s Causeway, and an audio guide featuring Finn the giant who tells you about his stories. For an additional charge you can take a shuttle to and from the stones if you don’t feel like or aren’t able to make the 1/2 mile walk from the visitor center.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Even with the gloomy weather, we really enjoyed our visit to the Giant’s Causeway. The sheer beauty and maze of octagonal stair like columns were mesmerizing and so much more stunning than I could have ever imagined. Β Looking at the various shapes of the columns was almost surreal; it seems crazy that such a large area of almost perfectly shaped rocks were created by cooling lava. I wish we would have had time to hike the trails surrounding the causeway–there are definitely some amazing views to be seen from the trails as well.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Have you been to the Giant’s Causeway? If so, did it live up to your expectations? If not, would you like to go?

 

10 Comments
  • Tony Hawker
    Twitter:
    Posted at 09:25h, 17 December Reply

    When I was casual teaching in London, I remember a lesson about the causeway, it blew the kids minds. When I finally travelled to the causeway my imagination went wild.

    Your pictures are amazing thanks for sharing. Did you happen to find the stones that look like a giants head and another that looks like a camel?
    Tony Hawker recently posted…Chapter 4 – The Humble Pride Of A Colombian PolicemanMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:45h, 18 December Reply

      Thanks! And so glad you enjoyed it as well πŸ™‚ That sounds like it would be a fun lesson. We found the camel, but I think we missed the giants head–it was fun to look for those hidden gems!

  • Angela
    Twitter:
    Posted at 18:05h, 17 December Reply

    I definitely recommend people to go if they are already in Northern Ireland. I was not a huge fan of Giant’s Causeway. I think it was mainly the admission cost to get in and realizing it was not required to see the coast. We also had overcast weather with crowds. Though we were there in August (towards the end of the tourist season). I wish the visitor center had more exhibits about the geology of the causeway and Ireland all together. It felt more like a large gift shop (even though I was tempted to buy some of the items).
    Angela recently posted…Why I am Glad We Detoured to See KilkennyMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:53h, 18 December Reply

      Yeah, I can definitely see that! I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was that my expectations were so low and I only really went because we were close!

      It does seem like it should be free though, and it’s irritating they make it sound like you have to pay to visit the causeway itself. I was a little frustrated to pay for the visitor center, but we were short on time and wanted a quick bite to eat and close parking. I didn’t really get a chance to look at the exhibit–glad we didn’t miss much. Overcrowding doesn’t help matters either–it wasn’t too busy when we were there thankfully, but it was very overcast!

  • Ed King
    Twitter:
    Posted at 06:31h, 18 December Reply

    Amazingly beautiful seascape !! Another destination in Ireland that I must see πŸ™‚
    Ed King recently posted…What is art photography? Do you have your own ideas?My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:54h, 18 December Reply

      Thanks! It really is such a pretty spot πŸ™‚

  • Raul
    Twitter:
    Posted at 17:51h, 23 December Reply

    I didn’t know about the causeway until I read this – and I love the story!
    Raul recently posted…2013: Oh, The Places I Stayed AtMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:06h, 02 January Reply

      Thanks, so glad to share it with you! It’s a beautiful place!

  • Oliver
    Twitter:
    Posted at 06:36h, 27 January Reply

    Some other wonderful impressions indeed! Year’s ago I did it there as part of a tour from Belfast and really enjoyed the sight as well as the legends around the Finn the giant, so thanks for putting a smile on my face and bringing back some lovely memories as well!
    I remember there were also a set of stone sculptures along the coastal path. However, some required some proper imagination to figure them out actually… πŸ™‚
    Oliver recently posted…Corollaries ~ Lubomyr MelnykMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:50h, 05 February Reply

      Glad to bring back happy memories πŸ™‚ I thought the same thing about some of the stone formations–when I squinted I could sort of make them out, lol! Always fun to use your imagination though. It is such a pretty area!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Local Hangout: 3RD & 3RD in Delray Beach, FloridaMy Profile

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