Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Holiday Time Again!

Warning!!  Picture and rock-heavy post. Leave now if it's not your thing :-)

I know, it's dreadful!  You would think we would have better things to do than go on a trip, wouldn't you?  Well, when the chance comes along to go to a special place that you've wanted to see since you were a child it would be rude not to go, wouldn't it?  Where is this special place?  It looks across to Scotland from the top of Ireland and is a place of mystery, turmoil, and legend otherwise known as The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

We went across with our friends as A & P Travel with the luxury of someone else doing the driving.  After an early start we crossed the Irish Sea by the Cairnryan to Larne crossing, one I've not been on before. Our first night was spent in a lovely but haunted hotel close to the ferry and the Giant's Causeway was our first stop next day.

We chose to walk down to the causeway and enjoy the views but there is a shuttle bus for those who need it.

If you look at the image above you should be able to spot a lumpy rock formation near the foot of the cliff that looks a bit like a one humped camel, there are various names for the many rock formations here.

As you appoach the eponymous causeway you are struck by the number of people walking or clambering all over it.

 The guys in red fleeces are National Trust guides who try to keep people safe and offer advice as to the best route up and down.

On our walk down we took our time and explored the lower areas of the rocks and the amazing smaller columns of basalt that varied in colour from very pale to black.

 These people above give you a sense of scale and the actual Causeway stretches out to sea behind them.

I thought this smooth stone was the Giant's armchair but found out later it was further on.  I would have loved to have sat in it but I didn't trust myself to fling myself into it as it was a bit awkward. 

When we reached the Causeway I didn't fancy the look of the climb where everyone else was going up and thought I wasn't going to be able to go onto it so we wandered around to the east side and were amazed by the huge columns of basalt.

 The turquoise coat is me, off to see if I can find an easier way up, albeit without the benefit of NT guys.
 Some of these columns have coins pushed into the cracks, some of which had gone rusty.  Very tempting!
 I really couldn't go all that way and not walk on the Causeway itself so I left DH taking photos and discovered a gentle climb up.  I told DH I was only going as far as a couple of people I could see ahead but, well, once I was up there what could I do?  It was actually reasonable walking on top and I had a walking pole with me so I felt confident to wander.

The surface is fairly flat on top, just have to watch where you are walking.  I was surprised to see how light the rocks were.

 Above, looking back towards the 'camel',

 As you get further along the rocks do change colour. 

This looking back the way I had come. 

Had to take a few texture photos ;-)

I could have stayed up there all day but thought I'd better get back.  Sudden panic! The easy climb up looked treacherous going down so I went across to where the guides were.  It was easier to pick a route but the stines were shiny with so many feet crossing them so I didn't feel all that safe.  

We had arrived at the Causeway early and as we walked back to the visitor centre the crowds going down were getting heavier.

It felt like a pilgrimage!  I did wonder about whether people should be allowed to roam freely over such a special place but I suppose the rocks must be tough enough to take it.  For my part I am pleased that you could roam at will.  It felt a very special place and I was elated to be standing there looking down on such a colossal, mind blowing force of nature.  Do click on the photos to see the detail.  Hopefully if you've got this far you'll be as awed as I was.