I was shocked as the view changed from the rugged coast line of Ireland to the geological wonder of Giant’s Causeway before my very eyes. I had driven to Northern Ireland as part of a whirlwind road trip around the Isle of Ireland. I truly felt like I had stepped into the land of Giants.
Giant’s Causeway is located in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. The site is owned by National Trust and the Crown Estate. It is was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. arrived at the brand new visitor center shortly after it opened for the day. My goal was to take the first tour of the morning.
I walked into the visitor center and realized I made a critical mistake. I had forgotten to get some English pounds when I crossed over from the Republic of Ireland. My forgetful ness turned into a non-issue as the visitor center accepts credit cards, Euros, Pounds, and US dollars.
I was one of three guests in the center and the only one who signed up for the tour. I was off on a private tour of Giant’s Causeway. The Causeway is a 1/2 mile walk from the visitor center. There are two ways to get down. One is to walk and the other is to pay for the shuttle bus.
My guide and I walked the short trail as she told me the history of the site. The former visitor center had burned down in 2000 and the replacement didn’t open until 2012. The architect has the building built into the side of a hill to minimize the impact the building would have on the scenery.
As we walked down, the landscape morphed as she told me the legend of the giant Finn McCool. Finn McCool built a causeway between the North Channel that separates Ireland and Scotland. Directly opposite, Giant’s Causeway is Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa. Finn built the causeway to accept a challenge by the Scottish giant Benandonner. When Finn arrived on Staffa, he found the Bennandonner was one of the largest giants. In fright, Finn ran back across the causeway. With the help of his wife, Oonagh, Finn dressed as a baby and hid in a cradle. When Benadonner arrives, he found Oonagh caring for a large baby. Benadonner took one look at this massive baby and concluded that his father must be a giant among giants. Benadonner ran back across the causeway destroying it as he went.
Fingal’s Cave has the same hexagonal formations as Giant’s Causeway. The hexagonal formations at Giant’s Causeway range in size. The tallest are 39 ft high and the solidified lava cliff is 92 ft thick. The causeway extends out in to the ocean about a half mile according to my guide. It is possible they were once connected with the Fingal’s Cave and the ocean has worn them away.
Fun Fact: The Isle of Staffa has a couple of whiskey distillery whereas Northern Ireland has one. Northern Ireland likes to claim it took Staffa several tries to get it right vs Northern Ireland only need one try.
Our tour concluded at the short hiking paths that lead further along the coast. My guide and I stopped to talk at a fun rock formation that looks like a giant’s shoe. According to legend, it is Finn McCool and he dropped it when he was running away.
My guide left me to hike out along the northern Irish coast. I hiked as far I could which was to the next cove. The rest of the trail was closed for repairs. I would have loved to hike out further.
On my return, I hiked up the cliff face overlooking the causeway and circled back to visitor center. The first part of the trail was steep and a bit of an uphill climb. Once I was at the top of the ridge, I really enjoyed the view. It was well worth the short climb.
I walked back down to the columns so I could further explore the columns. I walked out as far as the safety officer would allow and enjoyed watching the waves break over the columns. I wasn’t willing to risk going any further because the water in the area is cold and getting swept out to sea wouldn’t be fun.
26 thoughts on “Taking a Nap in a Giant’s Shoe in Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland”
I have not been to Giant’s Causeway Jennifer but it does look inspired. I know that pit in the stomach feeling well, with money/currency issues abroad. Good thing more spots accept credit cards these days. Even in 2011 when I started traveling, almost all places I visited in developing lands accepted cash, outside of the big cities.
I had Euros in my pocket but didn’t think about the fact that I would be in the UK and would need pounds.
I’ve been dying to get to Ireland, any part. This looks like a cool place to explore and get lost for an afternoon. Sitting in a giant’s shoe doesn’t sound half bad either, lol! I love that Staffa has a few distilleries but Northern Ireland only has one. I guess “getting it right” is one thing but I like having options so that would be another fun thing to do while visiting.
Book the trip. Ireland is amazing. I can agree on the whiskey. I am not a fan of all whiskey and people have different tastes.
That’s an interesting hike. While I hike around the Himalayas, climbing up a cliff and looking over the sea must be a totally different experience. On the other hand, glad to see that the tourist facilities are well-developed and you did not have to face any problems for leaving behind your money.
There is a balance to be found and a lot of places are getting better and find it. You want the tourist but need to keep the place natural otherwise no tourists.
Giant’s Causeway looks beautiful! I love that the visitors center has been built into the scenery so as not to stand out too much. Having a private guide to tell you stories and answer questions sounds wonderful! Love the jabs at Staffa’s whiskey distilleries from the Northern Irish 🙂 I’d have to visit the distilleries in both places to see for myself!
I want to do a taste test to see who is right but then again, I am now biased. Bushmill black label is my favorite whiskey.
I loved my visit to the Giants Causeway, was really great hearing about the legends and history of the site – and obviously stunningly beautiful too! Haha and don’t worry you’re not the first to arrive without pounds … I did the same thing too! The visitors center is probably used to it lol, I was very glad that they accepted credit card because I got a beautifully illustrated book about the legend of Finn McCool 🙂
They were used to when I asked about cash. I wish I had noticed the illustrated book about Finn McCool.
This is exactly how I picture Ireland – grey, rocky, and beautiful!
That is pretty much all of the coastal Ireland.
I haven’t been here but I am amazed at the hexagonal like tiles in the mud. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. Ireland is so full of incredible landscapes though that this doesn’t really surprise me. I’ve only been to the south of Ireland, and it’s obvious to see there is still so much more of this beautiful country.
They are such an unique feature in Ireland.
Spectacular view, very scenic. Northern Ireland has very beautiful landscapes.
Thank you for the comment.
I love how raw and isolated it seems there. Such a great hike. Great you got a guide to take you out so they could tell you about the area. Looks chilly out there but well worth it.
It was a little chilly but it was the north Atlantic in November.
That is a nice a little hiking story and an added little tip about getting British pounds when crossing the border. Northern Ireland or Ireland has always been a bucket list for me, sadly so far from where I live, but some day because the scenery looks amazing.
It is very far but it is worth the trip.
Sounds like you had a great time! I have not been to the Giants Causeway, but would love to go and reading your experience it sounds great.
It was a fun day.
Thanks for sharing this very informative post. We haven’t visit the Giant Causeway yet but it’s on the list. The walking tour sounds like a great thing to do to learn all about the history. It’s great that they accept a few currency in case you forget to get pounds!
I suspect that is a necessary evil to accept multiple currencies. Pretty much the US is only one that doesn’t accept anything else.
That’s quite a story! I’ve always enjoyed stories where characters outwit each other like what Finn did. You’re so lucky your tour became a private a one. Group tours with strangers can sometimes be trying.
The tours are run by the National Trust so there isn’t another option if you just want to do the Causeway. I would have enjoyed the tour either way.
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