This hidden gem revealed to the public in 1693 has become a popular destination to travellers around the world, with over 300,000 visitors since its reopening in 2012. A site worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime, The Giant’s Causeway has been named the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. Located in the coast of Antrim, Northern Ireland, a short 4.8 km NE of the town of Bushmills.
The origin can be a topic of debate with your family, a story to keep both the adults and the kids mesmerised. The 40,000 odd basalt columns of natural or man-made origin (I’ll leave it up to your imagination) create a picturesque view and stepping stone for a day well spent.
According to scientific evidence, the Basalt columns were the result of a volcanic eruption about 55 million years ago. As the lava cooled and hardened, fissures ran through the lava Plataea creating the pillars we see today. Basalt pillars ranging from 12m-28m can be found at the Giant’s Causeway and this is as a result of how fast or slow the lava cooled at the time they were being formed. Once you reach the causeway steps you will see the beautiful shapes it has formed; some hexagonal, others ranging from four to eight sides.
However, your children will be visiting for an entirely different reason. To walk alongside Giant Fionn; a walk back in time. Legend has it that the Irish giant Fionn Mac Cumhail built the causeway to join Ireland to Scotland in order to fight his Scottish rival Giant Benandonner. Come the day of the battle, Fionn envisioned the unsavoury outcome and hid from his opponent by pretending to be their son. Frightened by the rather large size of Fionn’s “baby”, more specifically frightened by how much larger Giant Fionn would be, Benandonner fled Ireland. Benandonner destroyed parts of the causeway as he fled, to prevent Fionn from catching up to him.
You will see that parts of the causeway are submerged under water, where the remains of the identical Basalt formations can be found on the other end at the Scottish isle of Staffa. Traces of Giant Fionn have been left behind where you can see Giant’s Boot and Organ structures. Weathered low reddish columns can also be found, which closely resemble the Giant’s Eyes. Other sites to look out for include the Shepherd’s Steps, the HomeyComb, the Giant’s Harp, the Chimney Stacks, the Giant’s Gate and Camel’s Hump.
The Giant’s Causeway offers a variety of five walks for your family to choose from, ranging from short to difficult tracks. The shortest of the walks being the Giant’s Causeway walk at 0.8km with an optional longer circuit at 3km. The Organ to Reostan is a roughly 3.5km walk which will take you to the Giant’s Eyes. The Runkerry Circuit is a 4km walk which would give you spectacular views of Portrush and Donegal, with an optional tram ride to take you back up.
Lastly, if you are looking for something more challenging, you will be after the Portballintrae via Old Tram Track, which is an 8km track along the high cliffs giving you the best views the plateau has to offer. Take best advantage of the included outdoor Audio Guide made available to you to make the most out of your explorations. Accessible paths are also available on some tracks to cater for children’s’ pushchairs. Additionally, dogs are welcome to join your adventure as long as they are leashed.
Aside from the breath taking rock formation, the causeway is home to a diverse wildlife of sea birds including Cormorant, Fulmar, Wagtails, Razorbill, Shag and Petrel. Experience the natural harmony between the wildlife of the Giant’s Causeway with the scattered flora and fauna thriving around the Basalt pillars.
The many facilities offered at the Giant’s Causeway would make the journey with your family seamless. With 3 car parking areas available, you have the option to Park and Ride using various transportation modes available in order to get to and from the Visitors’ Centre.
If you prefer to leave your car behind for the day you can hop aboard Allen’s Tours bus which goes along the coastal route from Belfast to the Giant’s Causeway with various historical stopping pints along the way. There are regular Causeway Coaster buses running to and from the Centre for your convenience. You will also find accommodation booking services to make your stay an enjoyable one.
Whether you are young or old, believe in science or mythology, the Giant’s Causeway is a must see natural wonder your whole family will enjoy!