Northern Ireland

A close up of the basalt hexagons at the Giant's Causeway.

A close up of the basalt hexagons at the Giant’s Causeway.

We were ready to venture outside of Dublin for a bit. We rented a car, decided who would be the driver (me!) and planned a few days of driving. Turns out driving on the wrong side of the road wasn’t that difficult. What was strange was that the driver seat is on the wrong side of the car which means you have to use your left hand for shifting. That was strange but I was successful. And only once did I almost go down the wrong side of the road – almost. So where to? North to visit the Giant’s Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede bridge and possibly Belfast. It’s a lot for one day but I was optimistic. We left the apartment about 8 am and wound our way through rush hour traffic in Dublin. Not too bad actually. I had one biker get mad at me and pound on my window while we were at a stop light. I didn’t do anything, I promise, just was a little too close to him for comfort. And I have a great deal of respect for bikers but he was a bit sensitive if you ask me.  It was a pretty easy drive to northern Ireland. If it wasn’t for the welcome sign and the signs to tell you they measure speed in miles/hour and use the pound, you’d never know you were in Northern Ireland.

That's Noah at the top of a bunch of basalt columns.

That’s Noah at the top of a bunch of basalt columns.

The Giant’s Causeway is a beautiful area on the rocky northern coast. There are dramatic high bluffs, wind swept grasslands and glorious views. The highlight is the rocky area made up of basalt columns. It used to be a lava pool which got covered with water and when the lava cooled down it broke into almost perfect hexagon shaped columns. There are over 40,000 columns! Some of them are very short and some are almost 40 feet tall. I had read lots about them but when you first see them it’s just a huge “WOW”. I have never seen anything like them in my travels.

A view looking down on the tall columns of Giant's Causeway.

A view looking down on the tall columns of Giant’s Causeway.

You can walk all over the columns and get up close and eye-level with them. Matter of fact, you can get almost any view of them you want. And we did. We spent a couple of hours climbing up and down columns and seeing all there was to see of them. We also hiked the cliff-side trail to see even more.  You could only go so far on the trail because it is an active seascape area and had a recent rock-slide which shut down parts of the trail. The views were amazing. There is one section of the area called the Giant’s Organ – the columns look like a pipe organ.

The area is riddled with myths and stories of the Giant. Apparently the Irish giant and the Scottish giant were going to have a fight and the Irish giant threw down these foot stones so he wouldn’t get his feet wet. Something like that. We like the myths but really loved the geology of the area.

The rope bridge leading to Rocky Island. None of us died crossing it.

The rope bridge leading to Rocky Island. None of us died crossing it.

From there it was just a short drive to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This rope bridge connects the main land to a small island, Rocky Island. In the past it was used by fisherman for salmon fishing but now is a tourist spot. It’s a fun, mildly thrilling walk over a 30 meter deep chasm. Just enough to make you a bit nervous but not scared. The kids kept thinking about the Indiana Jones movie where Indy is on a rope bridge that gets cut and everyone falls hundreds of feet. They chickened out crossing it but Kay and I happily crossed over to hike the little island and enjoy the views. A fun little outing.

The road of trees!

The road of trees!

From there we did one minor detour to drive through a tree-lined road we had read about. The trees were planted several hundred years ago and form a complete canopy covering the road when the leaves are open. No leaves while we were there but still lovely.

By now everyone was pretty tired and we all vetoed a quick stop in Belfast. It was about a 3 hour drive back to the apartment where we all fell into bed and rested up for the next day of outings. Way Cool Outing Today!

For my Kentucky friends and family....

For my Kentucky friends and family….

Lots and lots and lots of columns.

Lots and lots and lots of columns.

Coastline shadows.

Coastline shadows.

The lovely shoreline of Northern Ireland.

The lovely shoreline of Northern Ireland.

 

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Posted on May 6, 2014, in adventure, European travel, family travel, Homeschooling, Ireland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Surprised to learn that Ireland has basalt columns in the shape of hexagons like we have here in the north of Israel. Great place to hike, Nahal Zavitan and Meshushim pool.

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