In The Giant’s Footsteps

The UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway, is an amazing natural phenomenon formed after a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago which created 40,000 basalt columns. At least that is what a scientist will tell you.

A local will tell you that giant, Finn McCool threw chunks of the Antrim coast into the water to create stepping stones to the home of Scottish giant, Benandonner, who he reckoned needed sorted out. However, Benandonner was massive and Finn beat a hasty retreat only to be chased by the giant Scot. Finn’s wife hid him in a cradle dressed as a baby. Benandonner took one look at the “baby” and decided that the daddy must be a big man indeed and he, too, beat a retreat.

I love this story which I heard on a trip to Northern Ireland as I travelled up the Antrim coast by luxury coach. Our guide had a wonderful way with a story and by the time we had got to the Giant’s Causeway, I was convinced Finn would be waiting there for me.

Visiting the Giant’s Causeway is something I had wanted to do for a long time. It did not disappoint me with these amazing columns rising from the sea to meet us. I know the science of why they are there, but they are still an incredible sight. An audio guide is available and allows you to spot all the interesting points as you wander along.

Clambering over the columns is not to be recommended as the rocks can become very slippy and the sea unpredictable. We saw this for ourselves when a couple from our group set off to explore nearer the sea and met with a huge wave which knocked them into the water. Fortunately we were staying nearby so they did not have far to go to dry off, but I don’t think their phones were ever quite the same.

Don’t worry if you are not too steady on your feet, a shuttle bus will take you down the hill to the coast and bring you back up again for a euro a time. Stick to the path and you will see everything without coming a cropper.

The recently-built visitors’ centre at the top of the hill is packed full of information, some lovely souvenirs and a caf with delicious food. It is the perfect place to recharge the batteries.

If you plan to stay in the area, then why not check into the Causeway Hotel? Boasting spectacular views over the Atlantic coast, it is owned and managed by The National Trust and has been furnished and decorated in a manner that is both sympathetic to the house and welcoming to the visitor.

And as you drift off at night you may hear the waves crashing against the causeway below or are you actually hearing the giant’s footsteps . . ?