For Danis 30th birthday we visited Northern Ireland with friends to experience the Antrim coast. The main attraction in this area and something we have wanted to visit for a long time is the Giant’s Causeway – and it did not disappoint! If you are wanting to go there for the classic photograph of the sea going across the rocks we advise that you plan ahead of time both the tide times and also sunrise/sunset (which means less crowds of people taking selfies). We were there at peak tourist times as it was a chilled holiday away with friends.

The Giants Causeway is now owned and run by the National Trust. So like most National Trust sites it has an entry fee (which we did pay as we are part of the National Trust and like to think the causeway is kept safe for tourists with the extra people they put on in the rocks area) but for those who want to get there early you can actually take the route backwards into the bay, where the rocks are, and that is free.

A little bit about the Giants causeway – taken from Wikipedia.

The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.

According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he is. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn would be unable to chase him down. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish Isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.

The surrounding area

If you do decide to go through the National Trust entrance and pay a fee, of which the majority of people do, they have a whole section dedicated to the history and geology of the causeway itself. From the National Trust entrance to the famous rocks is around a 10 minute casual walk. If walking is difficult, there is a bus that will transport you down to the rocks. What we didn’t realise before getting there was how large the area actually is and how there are various walks around the bay, which really does make it amazing value for money and lends itself to some great exercise, sea air and beautiful surroundings with amazing flora and fauna.

For something that Dani has waited to see for many years it didn’t disappoint. The volcanic fissures truly are something to be amazed at and there are some great photographic opportunities. Just make sure to watch you step because it is easy to fall over and there can be high coastal winds (we witnessed 2 people fall over and some of the sections are quite high!). There will be a lot of tourists any time in the day that you go but at no point did we ever feel claustrophobic. There area is big and people are going on various walks, so it is relatively spread out.

Food

The National Trust does have a cafe and there is also a hotel hidden behind the National Trust building that serves some basic food, however we decided to drive 1 min away from the causeway to a little van called Mini Maegden and I really recommend going here! They specialise in serving up cheese toasties and the best, most amazing hot chocolate I have ever had (hot chocolate, with fluff marshmallow and a caramel sauce = lush!). The ladies that run it are hilarious and there is always a queue, so make sure to plan this into your trip.

http://www.cheesemaegden.com/

Conclusion

As somewhere we have wanted to visit for a very long time, it really took our breath away. You could spend hours here exploring, taking photographs and enjoying the natural scenery, whilst feeling really relaxed, listening to the waves crashing against the basalt columns. There may be a large flurry of people from time to time, but that is easy enough to avoid and at parts it feels like you have your own space. There is a reason that this is one of only 4 places in the UK that is a UNESCO natural heritage site and the most popular tourist attraction in County Antrim.

For more information on the Giants Causeway, please visit

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway