Belfast to Giant’s Causeway


I don’t know why we did not visit the famous landmark on the north coast of Ireland when I visited the family on so many occasions, but then again maybe I do… I thought it was much further away, somewhere on the west coast, so I never mentioned it, and I always visited in winter, so maybe it would not be such a nice day out. Also, the same reasons as we did get to travel, even children have busy social lives, and there were always birthday parties and sleepovers for one or other of my granddaughters to attend, and so much to see locally, Belfast market, museums and nearby wildlife parks… we did come to the north coast, once for a surfing trip, which was even aborted due to the giant rollers and being met by one of the others, a big strong chap coming up from the beach and shaking his head when he saw the surfboard strapped to my daughter’s car. “It’s not safe out there!” catching his breath he went on to say they had all given up and were going up to the café.
Another time we had come north to visit Bushmills on my birthday, for a special meal at the wee converted but and ben house where we had a lovely candlelight meal. Bushmills Inn is actually an award-winning Restaurant takes in the original 17th-century ambiance with some original features including a tiny kitchen complete with a coal fired range and a pulley hung from the ceiling to dry the clothes, my mother had one in our home in Scotland. Another part of the building had cosy wooden booths with whitewashed walls and well-aged timber beams. I enjoyed my meal, they used locally sourced ingredients to make a really up market ‘Irish Bar’ favourite. Those were my only visits to the north coast of Northern Ireland before this year.

I headed north solo, after taking my granddaughter’s suggestion, when we hugged in the doorway before she left for work, to go via Portstewart and Portrush, I was so glad I did that as the two little seaside towns were very pretty with harbour areas where you could park up right next to the water and walk. Which was exactly what I did in Portstewart as it was now near lunchtime. Even just walking towards the Italian named cafe from the parking space on the front I found a super outdoor apparel shop with a tempting sale on, a replacement lightweight rain jacket had been on my list for a while and here I found ‘the one’. Then a boutique with ‘the hat’, a woven hat exactly the shape of the one worn by indigenous people I had learned about in Vancouver, I had seen examples in the museum and on murals in the city, but never been able to find one on sale, before today here in Ireland! Followed by a visit to a Gallery and a chat about life in Gibraltar with the well travelled owner, before finally choosing an outdoor table under the eaves of the café out of the misty rain, but with the best view of the harbour, where I sat happily waiting for my all day breakfast.

After breakfast I set off along the Causeway Coastal Route, next stop Magheracross Viewpoint near Dunluce Castle. From here I could see right over the white cliffs, hear the crashing waves below and spot Ravens as they flew too and from their precarious nests – life on the ledge!

When I found the right parking place, just off the Causeway Coastal Route, and hiked to the top of the approach road to the foot of the basalt cliffs, I was so excited to see the Giant’s Causeway, I ran down the long winding road, passing many other visitors, and many laboriously making their way back up to the car parks.
Two girls on one of the promontories had found the perfect spot to perch on the hexagonal columns and pose for photos of each other. I offered to take a pic of them both together and they kindly offered to take one of me on the same spot!

It was wonderful to see young and old rock hopping around this UNESCO World Heritage Adventure Playground! Geological studies of these hexagonal formations over the last 300 years have greatly contributed to the development of the earth sciences, and show that this striking landscape was caused by volcanic activity during the Tertiary period, some 50–60 million years ago! My friends Ruth Kergan and William Back photographed a similar rock formation on their road trip in the States recently. It is the same rock formation as Devils Tower, where Close Encounters of the Third Kind was filmed making the mountain a pop culture phenomenon, apparently it’s one of the most mysterious national parks.
See how the columns tower over my head here as I wander round the full extent of visible hexagonal rock columns. The quality of the exposed columns in the cliff where they present an array of features of considerable significance. Some of the columns are split horizontally into ‘biscuits’ with concave and convex upper and lower surfaces that interlock almost like a ball and socket joint. Hoping you can see how wide and how high they are!

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