An Amazing Stop At The Giant’s Causeway

Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

A Great Day In North Ireland With A Stop At The Giant’s Causeway

On our cruise through the Nordic countries, we were excited to get a small taste test of Ireland from north to south. We started in Londonderry, Northern Ireland with a stop at the the Giant’s Causeway. Fact and fiction kept us entertained as we travelled through this iconic spot.

A Little About The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway was an area of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that formed stepping stones into the sea. While most of the columns had a characteristic hexagonal shape, different rocks had four to eight sides. The site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.

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There was a fanciful story about the creation of the Giant’s Causeway. In this tale, it was built to help the giant Finn MacCool get to Scotland to meet the Scottish giant Benandonner. There are even identical basalt columns at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa.

The more scientific story started 50 to 60 million years ago during the Paleocene Epoch. Very fluid molten lava came up and formed a plateau that was convex on the bottom and concave on the top. As the mass cooled, it fractured and produced the distinctive columns of the Giant’s Causeway. Much of this geological feature is now above ground. Although it extends out under the sea.

Regardless of which story we believed, a stop at the Giant’s Causeway was a truly remarkable day trip.

Walking The Giant’s Causeway

Our tour bus parked and we had 2 hours to explore the Giant’s Causeway. We grabbed our audio guides and took the shuttle from the Visitor Centre to the waterfront. From our first viewpoint, we got a great panoramic view right out to the red path that went up the hill. The shore of this large Port Ganny Bay was filled with rough volcanic rocks.

First View.jpg

Volcanic Rocks.jpg

There was a large field with the top of stone pillars at ground level. They looked like stepping stones out to sea. When we looked close, we saw the different shapes of the pillars. Some of the tops were polished and were a bit dangerous to walk on in wet weather. But most were still very rough rock. Much like what we found when we visited Stonehenge, I imagined a day when this national treasure was roped off to stop people from climbing on the rocks. Both to protect the rock and the tourists.

Stepping Stone Rocks - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

Stepping Stone Rocks.jpg

Stepping Stone Rocks.jpg

Other pillars jutted up and formed a climbing platform. As we walked on through what looked like a gateway, giant pillars now towered above our heads. People climbed the pillars to get a view out over the site. When we walked back from this wall of pillars, we got a more dramatic view.

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Towering Pillar Rocks - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

Towering Pillar Rocks - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

That first view on our stop at the the Giant’s Causeway was simply stunning.

Climbing High Up The Hill

On the other side of the stones was the Port Noffer Bay. We saw the red walking path up high on the hill. Of course we had to walk up the hill to the point to see what was around the corner As we walked we listened to the audio guide at each stopping point.

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The path up the red cliffs was steep and slippery. But it was navigable when we moved slowly. We stopped at a fascinating rock outcropping that looked like a pipe organ built into the hills. A little further on we found the fascinating curved pipes.

Red Path Hill Organ Pipes.jpg

Red Path Hill Organ Pipes - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

Red Path Hill Curved Pipes - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

As we walked up and down the hill, we got great views out to the water. The rocks towered over us. And as we reached the corner, the iron in the ground turned the rocks and soil red. It was definitely worth the effort to hike up.

Port Noffer Bay - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

Red Path Hill Rocks.jpg

Red Path Hill Rocks - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

Checking Out The View Around The Corner

When we finally hit the high point, we were delighted with the view around the corner to the Amphitheatre bay. The gate was closed at this point so we went no further. Parts of the path were regularly closed off when the cliff was deemed to be unsafe. A slope stability map provided a view of what shape various parts of the paths were in.

Red Path Hill Point.jpg

Red Path Hill Point Corner View - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

Red Path Hill Point Corner View.jpg

As we climbed down the path, we saw another path going up to the Shepherd’s Steps. We were sure there would be another great view if we had the time and energy to climb yet another hill!

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We were so glad we hustled and climbed the hill to the viewpoint. Definitely a highlight of our visit to the Giant’s Causeway.

More Views As We Wandered Back To The Visitor Centre

We walked back down to the stones. And since we still had time, we walked back up the hill to the Visitors Centre. This walk gave us a great view out over the Portnaboe Bay at low tide. And more views of fascinating rocks.

Portnaboe Bay View - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

Portnaboe Bay View.jpg

At various points, we were amused to find signs that continued the fanciful story of the Giant’s Causeway. Rocks had names for shapes they made. And more details of the giant’s tale were added. When I finally found the camel rock, I was not sure I would have known what it was without the signs!

Humphrey The Camel Rock.jpg

Humphrey The Camel Rock.jpg

Humphrey The Camel Rock - Stop At The Giant’s Causeway.jpg

We were just about out of time so we missed the chance to walk the yellow path to another viewpoint. But we were not disappointed with the amazing views we saw. A fascinating stop at the Giant’s Causeway was a great treat on our tour of Ireland from north to south.

We Enjoyed Our Stop At The Giant’s Causeway

We were delighted with our first stop in Northern Ireland when we did a cruise of the Nordic countries. The Giant’s Causeway was a geological wonder. And a great fairy tale too.

There were multiple paths to walk along the Giant’s Causeway. Which path to choose will depend on your time and level of fitness. The shuttle down to the stones ensured that everyone saw some of the wonder of the Giant’s Causeway.

Our next stop in Ireland was in Belfast. We were excited to continue our exploration in Northern Ireland.

Have you done a stop at the Giant’s Causeway? Did you get a chance to hike the paths around the site?

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Stop At The Giant's Causeway.jpg

Stop At The Giant's Causeway.jpg

About TravelAtWill 503 Articles
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38 Comments

  1. One area of my home islands I havent been to yet and its so near (well, I am in London, England). I think I need to add this to my SECOND road trip of Ireland/NI as there is so much to do over there and I think my children would love running around here.

    • Danik, We were so glad we got a few stops in Ireland on our last visit. We too want to do a road trip to see north and south. This stop at the Giant’s Causeway just increased our interest in coming back. Linda

  2. Don’t you just love stories like the one about Finn MacCool and how he wanted to get to Scotland! 🙂 As much as I love history and data, being a true history buff, I still adore these explanations that go beyond the real world and science. It makes the place even more magical.
    Also, love your photos. I can understand how the Giants Causeway gets to be so mystical just by looking at the landscape on your photos.
    The place is on my bucket list, so thanks for reminding me why I want to go. 🙂

    • Danijela, I do love to hear both the fanciful stories. And learn about the geological or historically accurate facts. Both add an element to look for. We were amazed how big the site was. And by the differing sizes of the stones. Hope you get to visit. Linda

  3. Wow! The Giant’s Causeway story of Finn MacCool is fascinating and fun. I’m actually impressed that there are so many of the columns/pillars still standing. I’d love to hike around the area and see them in person. Thanks for sharing!

    • Patricia, I am glad you liked both stories about the origin of the Giant’s Causeway. We too were surprised to see so many columns standing. The curved ones were so fascinating. I hope you get to visit. Linda

  4. The Giants Causeway has been on my wishlist for decades, and I don’t know why we’ve not been yet as it’s not that far from us at all! It’s such a striking natural formation, I love the bits with the tall pillars.

  5. I had no idea you could get so up close and personal with the rocks at the Giant’s Causeway! I love learning about the ancient stories people would tell each other about the natural elements. I can definitely see why people thought about giants when they saw these rocks. Them being made out of volcanic rock makes the whole story even better! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I have seen similar pillars stones in the U.S and they were spectacular! I can imagine how wonderful Giant’s causeway must be! I really like that you can do a walk and have a beautiful view of the columns with a gorgeous backdrop of the sea! I will definitely visit Giant’s Causeway whenever and if I ever get the chance to explore Ireland!

  7. Such stunning landscapes. I have to admit I didn’t know about the Giant Causeway before reading this post. It’s always fascinating to learn about the early cultures and their connection to nature. We passed through Ireland a few weeks ago and promised ourselves a trip back. Adding the Giant Causeway to that list!

    • Rosemary, There is so much to see and do in Ireland. Glad we visited on this trip. But there are so many spots for a return trip. Hope you get to visit the Giant’s Causeway. Certainly a stunning sight. Linda

  8. Such a magnificent site and a great place to explore! I love hearing and learning of the different stories about Giant’s Causeway – definitely a must visit when going to Northern Ireland! xo – Kam

  9. Stopping at the Giant’s Causeway which is spread in area of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that formed stepping stones into the sea is really a unique stopover while cruising from north to south across Nordic countries. The view around the corner to the Amphitheatre bay is really delightful. I found names of the rocks very funny as they are named after the shapes, like that camel rock really looks like camel.

    • Yukti, It was fascinating to see so many columns all in one place. We did not expect the great views along the coast that we got. I must admit I could not see many of the shapes the rocks were named for. Maybe I needed more time to ponder! Linda

  10. This is an interesting place to visit. It is my first time to hear about the Giant’s causeway so I am happy to learn something new today.
    Thank you too for sharing your wonderful experience.

  11. Giant’s Causeway is truly a fascinating site. I haven’t been there but you have convinced me totally. I would have hiked the path up there. Its also a great photogenic place. I amazed how they have named the rocks based on the shape. Its quite an interesting post to read. Loved it

  12. Your post rekindled my 2017 Ireland trip’s memories. I haven’t been to the Giant’s Causeway but it looks like a great place to explore and photograph. I am a huge fan of UNESCO World heritage sites and this one is outworldly with those four to eight sides basalt columns. Now, I am inspired to go there in 2020.

  13. I have always wanted to visit Northern Ireland and it has been on the top of my bucket list for ages now. your shots really only fuelled my wish to visit! I haven’t heard of Giants Causeway but I am considering adding this to my itinerary as it seems to be a beautiful place to make a stop at. I will definitely consider spending more than 2 hrs though as I don’t like to rush past things (as I have done in the past and always regret it!)

    • Ann, We were quite surprised on our visit to Northern Ireland. I would definitely want to spend more than 2 hours if we return to the Giant’s Causeway. We really rushed through. Would have liked to do more of the hiking paths. Hope you get to visit. Linda

  14. The giant’s causeway is a place we wanted to see when we went to Ireland. But after all was said and done we didn’t make it that far north. There is a similar phenomena, though, in California near Mammoth and I hope to see it soon. So glad you got to explore this cool place in Ireland!

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