Basalt columns jutting out of the ocean spectacularly… but is it worth such a long journey? And what is the best way to get there?
Having some Northern Irish roots, a trip to Northern Ireland was inevitable. Therefore, a trip to the Giant’s Causeway was inevitable, too. My mother’s mother was from Coleraine, highlighted below, and we still have some family living there.
The international airport is marked by the More Passport Stamps logo, just South of Antrim. It’s an hour by car to the Causeway.
We (some family and I) headed to Coleraine, as that would be our base for the weekend. We had planned to visit the stones early on Saturday morning, followed by a trip to the Old Bushmills Distillery, and finally watch the local football team, Coleraine FC, on the Saturday afternoon.
We found a cab from Coleraine was cheap enough between everybody. They do offer tours starting in Belfast. Alternatively, you can use public transport (Belfast-Coleraine-Giant’s Causeway) and a one day iLink ticket will cost you £17.50. The only issue is it may take up to three times as long depending on the time of day/what day of the week you visit.
The queue was non-existent in the entrance, which surprised me as it was a weekend. You can wander around the stones yourself, or you can wait for one of the guides to take you down and talk you through it. We opted for the free guided tour, complete with audio headset and friendly guide.
Our guide was Wayne, and he must have been doing it for years as most of us were in tears of laughter as he made us all chuckle on the way down, interspersing well-timed jokes with interesting information.
There is a point around halfway down that you are standing in Northern Ireland, and can see Ireland to the left and Scotland to the right. It’s not often that happens, but you can’t stay for long as it’s very cold and windy at that point!
Once at the stones you are free to wander on almost all of them. They take constant bashing from the waves so a few human feet don’t bother them. The landscape is impressive, and I certainly haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.
The 40,000 slippery basalt columns were created by volcanic activity a long time ago, but the name Giant’s Causeway comes from an old myth surrounding Finn MacCool, an Irish giant.
Wayne tells it better, but basically Finn built a causeway (raised path over water) to challenge a Scottish giant called Benandonner to a fight. When he saw Benandonner, Finn realised he was no match for somebody that big, so he ran home and dressed up as a baby. Benandonner came to Northern Ireland instead, and upon seeing Finn, ran home scared thinking “If that’s the size of the baby, how big must the father be!” and smashed the rest of the causeway up so that Finn could no longer get to Scotland.
For those that are interested, the Old Bushmills Distillery is only a couple of miles from Giant’s Causeway and the whiskey drinkers among us really enjoyed it, it really is one of the best whisky distilleries in the world.
As we left Giant’s Causeway, we spotted a coach dropping some tourists off and asked if we would take us to Bushmills town for some cash. The lovely driver typified the Northern Irish people by offering to do it for nothing. We paid him of course, but what a lovely gesture.
The day went from strength to strength as Coleraine FC won their match, and I won my bet I’d had on them!
We then met the distant relatives in the Railway Inn at Coleraine, and found that a deceased regular there was so popular that he has a picture of him framed in the middle of the bar. That man is my Gran’s brother, my Great Uncle John Tosh!
I wouldn’t have been to the Giant’s Causeway if I didn’t have links to Northern Ireland, and that is a great shame. If you are considering it, get over there and do it, as it is a very unique landscape that is not too difficult/expensive to see!
Have you been? Wanting to go? Leave a comment…