What is the Giant's Causeway?
Like all places with a mystical character, they exist scientific explanations e popular explanations. Let's begin to describe the opinion of science.
The Giant's Causeway: Scientific Explanation
The Giant's Causeway is a large expanse of approx 40.000 basalt columns which stretches towards the sea.
How were they formed? Millions of years ago, due to the movements of the earth's crust, a rift was created to the west of present-day Great Britain. Molten basalt emerged from the seabed. After settling, due to the rapid cooling due to the air and sea water, it solidifies rapidly forming the columns that made the Giant's Causeway famous. In 1986, this natural paradise was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited places of interest in all of Ireland.
Giant's Causeway Myths and Legends: The Popular Explanation
When nature invents something magical and unimaginable, man tends to give it otherworldly connotations that often materialize in legends and folk tales. Now it's a bit difficult to happen, but in the past it was much more common to make these combinations.
From that moment the legend has passed from word to word, up to the present day. This is the case of the Giant's Causeway and its two giants: Fionn mac Cumhaill, the Irish giant and Benandonner, the Scottish one.
Fionn is in dispute with Benandonner who threatens Ireland. To reach it and put an end to the quarrel, using the basalt rocks he creates a sort of path, the pavement in fact, up to the Scottish coasts. Once in Scotland, Fionn realizes that his rival is tremendously imposing and for this reason he quickly returns to his homeland. At this point it is Benandonner who wants to reach the Irish coasts, but once he arrives there he does not find Fionn, but a giant disguised as a child. Fionn's wife claims both their son. Benandonner, frightened by the size of the little giant, believes that his father could be even more impressive than him and flees in retreat destroying the pavement created by Fion.
Like any self-respecting legend, the versions are never unique. One of these claims that Fionn falls asleep during the crossing and his wife covers him with a cloth to make him look like a child. Another says that Fionn is placed in a crib. Still another that Fionn created the current Giant's Causeway to reach his beloved in Scotland.
In short, the legends are wasted.
The strange conformation of the basalt rocks of the Giant's Causeway
The 40.000 basaltic columns are unmistakable. Along the way they become more and more visible and what from a distance looks like a simple horizon of rocks, little by little becomes a unique panorama in the world.
The Giant's Causeway is basically divided into 3 zones characterized by the different height of the columns with respect to the sea. An all-round staircase (this is the feeling, steps everywhere) made up of "flat" rocks and with a mostly hexagonal base (although there are some pentagonal ones and others with a greater number of sides). Seen from above, the Giant's Causeway resembles a huge beehive.
How to reach and visit the Giant's Causeway
Regardless of the popular version or the scientific version, the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim is something incredible that you can't miss in an itinerary in Ireland.
If you follow the directions of Google Maps, you will find yourself in the parking lot of the visitor center. This is a paid parking lot that is connected to the Giant's Causeway entrance.
Caution: Giant's Causeway is NOT paid, parking and visitor center are.
As a result, you can easily visit this spectacular place in Ireland without necessarily having to spend money. Just park in the small town of Bushmill and then take a bus (Bus Eireann) towards Giant's, or park somewhere allowed and walk a section of the road. There is an entire path on the Causeway Coast that ends right at Giant's Causeway.
By the way, if you stay organizing a trip to Ireland and you need advice on how to approach driving on the left, this could be for you -> Drive on the left: 10 tips for not getting anxious
Walking among the basalt columns: the path
First, as I wrote in the post about tips for traveling to Ireland, the suggestion is to visit the Giant's Causeway in less crowded times like spring or the first part of autumn. It is priceless to be able to enjoy this show without having to fight among the thousand selfies per second that will surround you during the high season.
Furthermore, again to avoid crowding, but also to enjoy particular colors, I recommend you go either early in the morning or at sunset. For this reason, it might be a great idea to sleep in the nearest location -> find your hotel in Bushmills .
The visit to the Giant's Causeway
Starting from the visitor center, the route could be considered almost circular. It takes about 2/3 hours for the complete tour on foot. At first the path descends towards the sea and in about 15 minutes (without stops) it takes you to the first section of the basalt columns.
From here, to return you will have two possibilities: follow the path and "climb" the mountain behind you along a parallel but more panoramic path than the previous one, or get on the minibus which for the price of £ 2 per person shuttles between the visitor center and the Giant's Causeway.
Price with admission from the visitor center: if you choose to park and use the visitor center services, the cost is £ 12,5 for adults and £ 6,25 for children. The visitor center is open from 9am to 19pm in July and August, until 17pm between November and February, and until 18pm in the remaining months. For more information, however, I invite you to visit the official website.
If you buy the ticket: you will also have included an audio guide that will be activated along the way and will explain the story of Finn and many other curiosities related to these basalt formations.
Various precautions: beware that these are rocks that in some places can be really slippery. Use common sense and caution.
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