Newest Review: ... for! There is quite a walk down to the causeway itself although a minibus will take you most of the way if you find walking arduous. O... more
Lots of Rocks and a Dangly Bridge
Giants Causeway (Northern Ireland)
Member Name: lulu2004
Giants Causeway (Northern Ireland)
Date: 06/10/04, updated on 08/04/05 (2766 review reads)
Advantages: Great Day Out, Local Area Interesting
Disadvantages: Irish weather :(
When I went to the Giants Causeway on a school trip I was non-plussed by it. Yeah, it sure was fun jumping over those funny rocks. But was that all there was to it? Big deal! I live in the country, there are funny shaped rocks everywhere. I had a good day there, but teachers, you might as well have taken all the children to an empty field and let them run wild. All we were there for was fun. We learned nothing from our day out. However, as I got older I began to take more of an interest in Celtic Mythology and even Geography, and began to realise that there is more to the Giants Causeway than funny shaped rocks. Since then I’ve been back a few times, when I’ve been in the area and I really think that it is a worthy visit if you happen to be in Northern Ireland.
Historical Stuff and all that Jazz…
The Giants Causeway is a bizarre rock formation located on the coast of Northern Ireland in County Antrim. It is created from forty thousand hexagonal (and I mean perfectly hexagonal- but apparently some are five-sided!) basalt rock pillars. These pillars are all of different sizes and look almost like stairs leading somewhere, but they don’t! How dull, you may indeed think. I mean, really, how exciting can a rock formation be? But the Giants Causeway really must be seen to be believed. From the seventeenth century the Giants Causeway became know informally as the Eighth wonder of the world, such is it’s magnitude. Apparently when the causeway was first discovered there was much debate as to whether it was a natural phenomenon, or made by men with pick axes! Although the origin is thought to have been volcanic activity in county Antrim sixty million years ago. In 1963 the causeway was taken over by the National Trust, and remains so today.
When you arrive at the Causeway you will be asked for £5 to park your car! I objected to this the last time that I went, but to no avail. Personally, £5 per car seems ridiculous to me, but that’s the cost. However, you will not encounter any other entrance fees. Once you park you wander up to the Tourist shop. Here you will find a minefield of tacky “my mate went to the Giants Causeway and all I got was this lousy pen” stuff. But some of the photography and Celtic crafts on sale here are worth looking at. If you leave the shop you’ll find yourself on the path down to the rocks. This is a long path, and even if you think that it’s a lovely sunny day, you should pack a raincoat, as weather here changes before you realise it!
If you’re unfit like me, the walk will be a nightmare! But the landscape surrounding you is breathtaking enough to let you forget about it! Rugged cliffs and rolling waves are everywhere around you. Be careful if you’re walking along the path, as it’s quite narrow and at 15 minute intervals everyone will be forced to the side as the small coach (mainly used by old folks and those with kiddies) ferries people up and down to the rocks. The Causeway is huge, and I have to admit that I personally have never been able to see every part of it. My legs get much too tired! But let me tell you a story…
A long time ago there was an Irish Giant called “Finn MacCool” (he was only 52 feet tall!) and over in Scotland his rival “Bennandonner” lived. The giants argued a lot, and thought that they could see who was strongest in a battle and so to hold this battle Finn hospitably agreed to build a causeway from Ireland to Scotland. (well the island of Staffa actually) One morning Finn’s wife awoke to find that Benandonner had arrived over the causeway to battle Finn, and as he was a much bigger giant than Finn she knew her husband would lose. So she covered him up in a baby blanket and put a bonnet on his head. When Finn’s wife saw what he thought was Finn’s baby he panicked! If the baby was 52 feet, then what size must his father be! He ran all the way back to Scotland, he ran so hard that the Causeway between the countries crumbled beneath his feet. And so, that’s why the Giants Causeway is called the Giants Causeway. But there’s another tale, one which I prefer…
Finn was involved in a fight with a Scottish giant, he scooped up a huge mound of earth from Northern Ireland and flung it at his rival. The earth fell into the sea and became the Isle of Man. The hole it left filled up with water and became Lough Neagh.
Finn fell in love with a lady giant on the island of Staffa, so he built this wide commodious highway to bring her across to Ulster. Isn’t that a sweeter story!
And back to the review…
Because of its association with the Giants, many of the rock features have names to reflect the giant himself who lived there. There’s the ‘Giant's Granny’ or the ‘Giant’s Organ’ that one always sounds quite rude to me! But I assure you it is not! There are countless other rock formations, too many to mention in fact, but I would like to tell you about other things you can visit while you’re at the Causeway, as these are every bit as spectacular as the rocks themselves. The National trust provide guides to these formations.
Walking along the cliff route is spectacular. Although in wet weather it can be terribly slippy, and is a very long walk. If you look out to sea, you can view the breathtaking rock columns below and the rough sea beating against the stones. There isn’t a view like this anywhere else in the world. The rocks are 24 metres wide in certain parts and studies done on fossilised vegetation within the rocks has shown that Ireland originally had a semi-tropical climate.
The Spanish Armada:
During the 1960s a wreck from the Spanish Armada was discovered off the coast of the causeway. Remarkably there was over 10,000 objects found within this wreckage. These are on display at the Ulster History Museum, and the find is documented on boards at the Causeway tourist office.
Carrick-a-reed rope bridge:
Some of you may remember a Guinness advertisement a few years back, where a man is standing in the middle of a desolate rope-bridge between two islands. This is Carrick-a-reed. Located a short drive away from the Causeway, this rickety old bridge joins the mainland to the small fishing island of Carrickareed. It is probably the most scary thing I’ve ever walked across! Only one person can go across or back at a time and the bridge shakes as it blows in the wind. There are tales of tourists who have crossed over to the island and have been too frightened to walk back over the bridge again, so they have to be airlifted from Carrickareed! (the island is nothing more than a spike of land) Oh and by the way… you cross at your own risk!
Bushmills Whiskey Distillery:
My boyfriend and I had a great day learning about old Irish whiskey (Irish whiskey is spelt with an ‘e’ while Scottish Whisky has no e!) It was a fascinating day out and we learned how Irish whiskey is distilled more times than other whiskeys to give it a unique flavour. We also got to taste lots of different types of whiskey and got a free glass at the end! The even gave us student rates of entry. I’m going to review this one in more detail for definite!
So, that’s the location and the surrounding areas described as best as I can for you all. I can only emphasis that a day (or a weekend) on the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland is not only an education, but a hell of a lot of fun if you plan your days correctly. Staff at the Giant’s Causeway are helpful and everything from the Causeway itself to the village of Bushmills is sign posted coherently. And if you’re from Northern Ireland, and haven’t been here since you were in “primary three!” then it’s about time you paid it another visit!
More reviews in the field of Destination National
- It's Not All Turkeys!!!
- The Secret Garden
- TVYP, MGEITF, BBC, ITV, OK?
- Lancaster Castle: Crimes and Misdemeanors
- TRAMMING IT TONIGHT
- My kind of heaven
- Fish Town is Golden
- Back in time.
- Cirencester - A beautiful town rich with things to see and do
- Outstanding, Authentic Thai Cuisine in new surroundings