The Giant’s Causeway is the stuff of legends. The jagged outcropping features compact basalt columns that lead directly into the sea. In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Giant’s Causeway is shrouded in myth and lore. Located on the North East coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland, it’s a geological wonder set against a rugged coastal backdrop.
A geological wonder
There are roughly 40,000 black basalt, polygonal columns, rising out of the sea along the coast. It truly looks as if it’s the ruins of a massive castle from a mythical time. Nearly 50-60 million years ago massive volcanic eruptions shaped this otherworldly landscape. What makes the Causeway so striking is how perfectly horizontal the columns are formed. It’s an important piece of Earth’s geological history, and a place that’s accessible for people to see the inner workings of the Tertiary era’s geological activity.
The Giant, the Myth, the Legend
Around 2,000 years ago, a swanky giant named “Finn McCool” (seriously), AKA Fionn mac Cumhaill, was hanging around the causeway and you can still see the remains of the chimney stacks that warmed his giant house, the massive organ that his giant son would play, and he even left one of his giant boots on the shore. Finn was in a fight with a chap named Benandonner, a Scottish giant. So, he decided to pick up massive pieces of the Antrim coast, and lay a path for him to cross the ocean and battle Benandonner. Unfortunately, Finn was outmatched, so he retreated back to his home, followed by Benandonner looking to finish the job. Finn’s wife quickly dressed him up to look like a baby, so when Benandonner saw him he thought “Jeez, I’d hate to see how big his dad is!” And he quickly retreated back to Scotland.
Regardless of whether you believe the Giant’s Causeway was built by a Giant or formed as the result of volcanic activity over millions of years, there’s no denying, it’s a magical and beautiful place…
The Nitty Gritty
People have been visiting the Giant’s Causeway for over 300 years, from all over the world. When you first arrive at Giant’s Causeway, head to the Visitors Center to get your bearings. Admission for this National Trust site is just £10.50 for adults, and £5.25 for children 5-17. Also, don’t fret if you don’t feel you can walk all the way to the Giant’s stones, there’s a shuttle bus that only costs a £1.
The Clifftop Experience Tour
There are several ways to experience the magnitude of Giant’s Causeway, but perhaps the most adrenaline-pumping is the “Clifftop Experience” tour. This 5-mile hike takes you from the ruins of Dunseverick Castle to one of the world’s best clifftop coastal views. Every year over 900,000 visitors embark on this once-in-a-lifetime hike. Just head to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Center, and a bus will shuttle you to the Castle throughout the day, starting at 10:30AM. Expect around a 3.5 hour hike, and this isn’t really for little ones, they prefer children to be 12 and over (not as a general rule, but for the purposes of this hike). Please wear good walking shoes, bring water, sun tan lotion, and a raincoat. The cost is £30 per person.
Don’t wanna miss a thing
1. The Grand Causeway, the largest of the three rock outcroppings.
2. The Giant’s Boot, located in Port Noffer, this is the lost boot of Finn McCool, size 93.5!
3. The Visitor Centre, an £18.5 million architectural masterpiece.
4.The Shepherd’s Steps, 167 steep steps along the Red Trail cliff.
5. The Camel, a stone beast in Portnaboe that once carried Finn McCool.
6. Wishing Chair, a basalt throne, kinda like the Iron Throne.
7. The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge