The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is a geological marvel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and an unmissable stop for anyone heading to Northern Ireland.

Geology made the British countryside. It was the freakishly intricate composition of the geological map that created such diversity of natural features and building materials, which seem to vary every few miles, as well as natural wonders, such as the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site.

The basalt stacks are the result of a volcanic eruption of 60–65 million years ago, after which lava that flowed into a valley crystallised as it cooled, forming hexagonal and other multi-faceted columns. Over aeons, the columns sank to different depths, giving the appearance of steps.

The Causeway had been the stuff of legend for centuries when it entered written history in 1692, on being ‘discovered’ by William King, then Anglican Bishop of Derry. An early name was clachanafomhaire, which associates it with the small, dark Fomorians who supposedly inhabited Ireland before Gaelic speakers arrived.

The giants of later legend are Finn McCool and his Scottish rival, Benandonner, who used it as a bridge to do battle with each other — although it never came off, because the giants were too frightened to begin the fight.

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Aerial view of the Giant’s Causeway.

How to visit The Giant’s Causeway

The Causeway is three miles from Bushmills, and 60 miles from Belfast, on the northern coast of Northern Ireland.

The Giant’s Causeway is looked after by the National Trust — and there’s a large car park, slick visitor centre and well-organised system to help people up and down the hill.  If you don’t mind walking from Bushmills you can wander down on your own and see the causeway for free, but using the National Trust facilities — including car park and visitor centre – costs £13 adults/£6.50 children. Members are free. See the website at for more details.

The Giant’s Causeway is framed by magnificent scenery.

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