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Giants Causeway (Northern Ireland)

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      30.01.2010 19:30
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      Good day out but can be difficult for people with limited mobility

      The Giants Causeway is probably the visitor attraction that most people visiting Northern Ireland have heard of. It is well sign-posted (from pretty much everywhere!) and has ample visitor parking. There is a tea shop which serves drinks and light refreshments and a gift shop with the inevitable postcards, pencils and other tourist grot that people are persuaded to part with money 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. On the way down you pass basalt columns that hint at what you will find at the bottom.

      The six-sided columns of basalt spring out of the sea and are battered by the waves constantly, which shows just how hard these volcanic rocks are. Parts of the structure are safe to climb on with care, and the braver/more foolhardy can venture further out, although I'd recommend caution as they can be hard to get around on.

      If you take the Causeway coast walk you can follow a path along the coast, seeing more of the natural formations. It's not for the fainthearted though - some parts are quite narrow, and although it is fenced and there are ropes and handrails in places to help you, it can be a little precarious for those of us with an anxiety about heights. Some walkers try to take bikes along the walk too, which can be awkward when they are coming the other way and you have to get past them.

      If you have children then the part of the Causeway near the Causeway visitor centre is fine, if you keep an eye on them. I'm not sure I'd try the coastal walk with them, though, and don't even think about it if they need a buggy!

      If you are ever in Scotland, then Fingal's Cave in Staffa is well worth a visit - the other end of the Causeway and arguably even more spectacular.

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        24.02.2009 03:56
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        A big set of stairs really!

        The Giants Causeway is popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. Situated in Country Antrim, this odd collection of 40 thousand hexagonally shaped rocks is certainly worth a visit!
        In 1963 running and maintaining of the Causeway was taken over by the National Trust, and has remained that way to this day.

        For those visiting this site, there is no entry fee per se, however a parking fee of £2. Please bear in mind that this car park fee does go towards the running of this tourist site and is a good cause, but if you prefer to save your £2 you can park further down the road and have further to walk.

        Before braving the Causeway there is plenty to do and look at. Atop the Causeway there is the obligatory shop selling various tourist items, Tourist Information which provides some interesting information about this site. There is also a cafeteria for a refreshing drink or two.

        Those of a healthy and fit disposition are welcome to brave the walk down the rock formations, however there is a bus service to take you down, but be aware that you have to pay for this.

        Once done on the causeway you will see that the collection of rocks are really pillars of different sizes therefore creating the impression of a "stairway" which lead down to the sea. Whilst it is truly breathtaking to be standing on these stones with the waves of the sea crashing around you, keep an eye on the kids if you have any with you. It's so easy to get too close to the edge! Be sure to have the camera ready to take some pictures of the magnificent scenery and the interesting rocks.

        For those that are mad you can walk back up to the car park...I use mad in the sense that it's a fair hike back up and I would advise taking the bus back up if you'd like to get to the top without any difficulty breathing.

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          07.11.2008 20:41
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          A must see if you are in Northern Ireland

          The Giant's Causeway is a must if you are sightseeing in Northern Island. It is an amazing natural stone walkway which stretches out into sea.

          All around you is the wild and windy Atlantic Ocean, off the coastline of County Antrim.

          The Causeway itself looks like a stack of huge squared off blocks, all on top of each other. The fabulous colours of the rock range from bronze and red, to dark grey depending on the light and the weather.

          It is made up of more than 40,000 closely packed basalt columns. Some of these are as much as 90 feet thick. The highest columns reach about 40 feet above sea level. These were formed about 60 million years ago when molten lava came up from the seabed. The sheer scale of the Causeway is breath taking.

          This is a cold and windy place, even on a warm day and it is easily accessible from Port Ballintrae and Port Rush. There is a bus service which runs during the summer and will drop you within half a mile of the Causeway. It is also accessible by foot, or car.

          This is not a place I would recommend during the winter months because it is very exposed and tends to be very wild and windy. In the summer it is certainly a spectacle that should not be missed.

          There is a certain magic about the place which has been celebrated in legend. The story says that the Giant's Causeway was created by the giant Finn MacCool who wanted to fight his neighbour, Finn Gall across the sea, in Scotland.

          When Finn McCool was tired after all that work and he rested, Fin Gall came across the causeway but got such a fright when he saw how big and powerful the sleeping Irish giant was, that he ran away home.

          The battle of the giants was long ago finished and just the causeway remains. This is a magical place with lots of atmosphere and its sure to make a lasting impression.

          If you are in Northern Island, don't miss it.

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            25.08.2008 11:28
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            Try to visit off peak - avoid the car parking and the tourist shop.

            This is a must-visit destination, but try to avoid peak times and weekends. It is truly amazing but its not well managed. Contrary to what one of the other reviewers say, its an easy walk to the accessible part of the causeway. They have long since closed the most beautiful part which was a more difficult walk. Anyone with normal fitness should be able to see the most important parts by foot. The buses are there for others. Unfortunately the buses share the same road as the pedestrians and go far too fast. I supect htey have been told to get up and down quickly so as to make more money but they are too fast and aggressive. This is just one instance of greed that detracts from this attraction and its down to the National Trust. They also "run" the tacky shop, the shack like visitor centre, the toilets and the buses. It looks like they are only really interested in earning money from this. The toilets are a disgrace - really smelly and dirty and the interpretation is almost non-existent. Teh other detraction is Moyle District Council who have obviously asked the question "what is the maximum amount we can get out of the tourist here and how?". The answer is to build a big car park and charge 5 pounds per car (2008). It takes 1-2 hours to see the Causeway, so that's pretty extortionate but they have managed to get the roads nearby yellow lined so that you have no choice (although lots of people sneak in trough the hotel car park and don't pay and display).

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              06.10.2004 23:19
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              The Giants Causeway is a place all Northern Ireland children are sent to by their schools. Well it seems that way anyway; as when you ask someone “Have you ever been to the Giants Causeway?” the typical answer is “Oh yeah, I remember going there in primary three!” It’s up there with Belfast Zoo on the school’s secret list of ‘boring’ places to take youngsters. Well, that was my vague memory of it, I could recall a long bus journey from Derry to Antrim, I could remember someone spilling a carton of Five Alive down the aisle of the bus. I could remember that there weren’t enough seats on the bus, so we had to sit three in a seat. And I could also remember that when we got there our little legs aches from having to walk so far from the Coach. But then, that was 1988, and things have changed since then!

              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…

              Mythical Ulster
              ************

              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.

              The Cliffs:
              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!

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                29.07.2001 03:00
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                Many, many, many years ago (you get the idea), the warrior giant of Ulster, Finn McCool was challenged to a ‘scrap’ with the Scottish giant Benandonnor. In order for Benandonnor to get across, Finn built a highway from Antrim to the Isle of Staffa, Benandonner’s home. One day after the highway was built Benandonner came over to Antrim whilst Finn was asleep. Finn’s wife realised that he was much bigger and stronger than her husband so she cleverly (what else would you expect from a woman) covered Finn with a blanket and a baby’s bonnet. When Benandonner arrived and saw the baby he didn’t stay around to see Finn: if the baby was that big then how big would Finn be! When he went back across to his home on the Isle of Staffa he destroyed the highway in his wake, and today the Giant’s Causeway is what remains. Ok, the scientific version is millions of years ago, cooled down larva that was compressed to form the basalt columns, is now what forms the Causeway. Whichever theory you believe, it really is a dramatic site. I am very surprised that the Giant’s Causeway is not the eighth wonder of the world. As with many attractions I had people waxing lyrical about it so wanted to see it for myself. I wasn’t disappointed. The local council and The National Trust jointly maintain the Causeway. It gives tourists confidence I think that any money that you do have to pay out will be invested by a reputable organisation like The National Trust into preserving landmarks such as this. Which brings me to the cost. There isn’t an entry fee as such, but you do have to pay £2 for parking in the car park. You can if you want, park further down on the road (if you’re stingy!), but bear in mind the £2 goes to the obligatory worthy cause (way…sorry, I’ll keep the jokes to myself). There’s plenty to wander around before you actually make the descent to the Causeway.
                Around the top, overlooking the sea, there are a collection of shops and a Tourist Information Office. Refreshments are available from the shops or there’s a cafeteria in the main entrance as you go in. Beware of some of the shops: tacky souvenir alert! Before you go down and look at the Giant’s Causeway itself you might want to watch a 10 minute film in the theatre which mainly concentrates on the myth surrounding the creation of the Causeway, it only costs £1, but is mainly aerial shots of the Causeway, with the story of Finn and his Scottish counterpart and some ‘floaty’ Irish music. It wasn’t really much use. Ok, you might have seen pictures of the Giant’s Causeway before, but you don’t want to see them before you go to see it – it spoils the fun a bit. I think it would have benefited with a thin brochure telling the story of the giants as you’re looking at the different formations. Right, the Giant’s Causeway itself. It’s knackering! You can walk or take a bus down to the rock formations. If like us, you forget to take enough money, you walk. Going down was the easy bit. It was the coming up which we weren’t looking forward to. Once down at the bottom and walking along the pathway running parallel to the sea, all the psychological anxiety of what is to come becomes worth it. The Giant’s Causeway is truly amazing. It is hard to believe the scientific explanations of the hexagonal pillars – why are they all roughly the same shape? Why hexagonal? Why not square? It really is like looking at modern architecture. I’m sure that the linear lines of the rocks have been copied for that purpose. Unlike many other ‘natural’ attractions, you are able to climb across the pillars, where if you go to the end it juts out of the land, and you can stand on a small area with the sea lapping the rocks almost all the way around you. I hasten to say at this point,
                that if you go with children, you will need to keep an eye on them all the time: it’s great to be allowed on to the rocks and not just to see them, but adventurous kids might find this too tempting. As you walk along there are certain formations of rocks that you should look out for. Some are obvious, but again I feel that a written guide would benefit. But, if you look hard there is the Giant’s Boot (I still maintain that this giant must have suffered from clubfoot) and the Giant’s Organ (no, not that sort, the musical sort). Ok, the walk back up to the carpark…tiring…very tiring. Must…stop…for breath [happybunny collapses]. Yep, I’d advise using the bus to get back up, but you do see some spectacular views (although you can see these at the top and on the bus I would imagine). Oh well, it justified my reason to eat a large tea when I went back to my lodgings that night…

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                  25.04.2001 09:04
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                  The Giants Causeway, a world heritage site, is a beautiful place whether you are a tourist, a local or have an interest in geology. The causeway is estimated to have been formed 60 - 65 million years ago when there was a lot of volcanic activity in the area, in fact it extends to the Scottish Isle of Staffa northeast from the North Antrim Coast. As the lava cooled, most likely in contact with water, it contracted forming cracks and creating the ‘honeycomb’ like basalt columns we see today. The columns are generally hexagonal, though the sides range from 5 – 8. There is a minibus that runs up and down to the middle causeway (the one you usually see in pictures), and I think they do allow individual cars to drive down if you are a disabled person wanting access. Your perception of it will depend on your interests of course. There are supposed to be some interesting plants in the area and some excellent bird watching along the cliffs. If you enjoy walking you can follow the paths either way from the causeway. If you head west towards Portballintrae you come to Runkerry Beach - a great beach if you have kids with you and you've 'done' the causeway. Head along the causeway path east for Whitepark Bay, Ballintoy and on to Ballycastle. On the way you will pass Port na Spaniagh where the Spanish Armada Galleon, the Girona, was wrecked in 1588 - you can see some of the items recovered from the wreck in the Ulster Museum in Belfast. If you do head east, after a while you come to 'the shepherds steps' where you can choose head back a different way along the cliff top path to the car park. Of course, if you get there on a wet day and think you might melt if you venture out for a walk, there's always the visitors centre. It had a souvenir shop and some audio visual / interactive displays – the usual tourist attraction things. As Belfastgirl’ mentioned, it
                  was closed due to fire damage and I think the causeway itself is closed due to foot and mouth at present - hopefully it will be even better now that it's undergoing a forced refurbishment. To me the causeway is the sort of place that can be visited in any weather! There’s always something you haven’t noticed from the previous visit. Personally I love the causeway in the winter or on a really windy day – it looks at its best with massive waves breaking over it – absolutely spectacular! Enjoy! Situated on the north Antrim coast. Head out of Bushmills on the A2 towards Ballycastle and a few miles along the road it is signposted on the left.

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                    13.02.2001 01:29
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                    I have updated this opinion from my very first writing of it! The Giants causeway is situated in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. For those of you who are interested in travelling there, it is around an hour’s drive from Belfast, depending on the route you take. The route that I am used to taking is along the beautiful Antrim Coast Road, a very picturesque area. There are various tours to the Giant’s Causeway and of the Coast Road, and it would be best if you asked at the local tourist information as these can vary due to the time of year, and the situation in Northern Ireland at the time. The Causeway has to be Northern Ireland’s biggest attractions with some people only coming into the North just to visit. Well, what is it? The Giants causeway is an area that extends about 90 meters into the sea. It is made up of hexagonal stones that were formed due to cooling lava. The stones are in column shape and some are as high as 6 meters! Local Legends suggest that the stones were formed as a competition between two giants to form a pathway from Ireland to Scotland. In Scotland there is an Island called Staffa which has similar rock formations, and so links in with the folklore. More about the Local legends usually can be found in the beautiful little visitors centre that once was there. Unfortunately this was burnt down a while ago, but I am led to believe that they are well on the way to building a new and improved one, so I will keep this post updated. The lack of visitors centre at the moment does leave many tourists wondering what the whole point of it is, as I heard one tourist say, "It’s just a big pile of stones", but this can be found out by taking the tour bus around the site which operates during high season. It is a lovely area to visit, especially on a warm sunny day, which, unfortunately, does not come all that often in Northern Ireland, and it is
                    a shame that much of the tourist industry is affected by the events of the summer in Northern Ireland. If you intend to visit Northern Ireland, I would advise against visiting during "the Twelth fortnight" if you are bothered by the Marches and such. Some people do not mind this and come ahead anyway. It is a great day out, if you enjoy walking, and the fresh air, the Antrim Coast is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and if the stones don’t interest you, I’m sure that the scenery will take your breath away (mind you, the long walk may add to that!). For those with young children, or people who have difficulties climbing, and walking far distances, then this may not be for you, but as I said previously, there is a tour bus for such people. I would highly recommend visiting the Giants Causeway!

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                      19.08.2000 19:00
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                      Giant’s causeway is situated on the outskirts of county Antrim just besides the bushmills distillery. A place for those people that like walking for pleasure. While I was over in Ireland we paid this place a visit. On arrival we came to the entrance that was a very nice attraction. Just inside the entrance were a gift shop and a coffee shop where you could get refreshments. Beyond the main entrance was the start of the walk As we were walking we admired this beautiful rocky place and the view was unbelievable too. It took us about six hours to get all a round giants causeway something that I will do again.

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