When lava cools rapidly, it creates a dark gray rock called basalt. In some places around the world, ancient volcanic activity led to basalt in perfect hexagonal columns. One of those places is on the North Atlantic coast of Northern Ireland, a place called The Giant’s Causeway.
It’s thought that volcanic activity here more than 50 million years ago formed this basalt. But ancient Irish legend holds that a giant named Fionn MacCool, when challenged to a fight with a Scottish giant, built this causeway so that the two giants could meet and battle.
The Causeway became known to the world in the late 1600s, and became a tourist destination during the 19th century. On the unusually sunny and warm September day on which we visited, hundreds of others climbed the columns with us. I hear it’s pretty much always busy, as one of the leading tourist destinations in Northern Ireland.
Oh, let’s switch to color, shall we? Because the ocean is startlingly blue here.
Really, the views are all breathtaking, starting with the long trail back toward the columns.
Margaret and I were prepared for a long hike, but not for a 75-degree day. We were dressed for the typical overcast and chilly September weather in Ireland. We got pretty sticky.
A warning, if you visit: you can go all the way up to the top of the cliffs, but to get there involves a lot of walking and some heavy stairs. My iPhone tells me I walked 19,039 steps and climbed 42 flights of stairs on this day (but to be fair, this was also the day we visited Carrick-a-Rede Island).
But the views from up there are worth it! You can see for miles from up there — all the way to Scotland.
But even if you stay at ground level, the scenery never disappoints.
The views almost edge out the basalt columns as the star of the show. Almost.
Canon PowerShot S95 and Nikon N2000, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor, Kodak T-Max 400.
To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!