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Monday, 26 March 2018

THE GIANT'S CAUSEWAY


In December 2012 I blogged about Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa.  The geology that is the cause of the cave’s distinctive appearance is the same as that on view at the Giant’s Causeway, namely the strangely uniform interlocking hexagonal basalt columns formed from cooling lava. The unique nature of this coastal wonder has earned it the status of World Heritage Site, and it is run by the National Trust, with all the associated trappings such as shop and tea room.  From the car park there are buses on hand for anyone who does not fancy the hike down to the causeway. 



When the causeway was discovered by the Bishop of Derry in 1692, no-one was sure whether the feature was man-made or created by nature.  There was even a school of thought that a giant was responsible for it, hence the name given to it.  The favourite candidate was one Finn McCool.  The story goes that there was a battle between Finn and a Scottish giant who was threatening Ireland.  Finn started throwing chunks of rock into the sea to form a pathway to towards his Scottish enemy.  In reality, as indicated above, it is ancient volcanic activity that was responsible for this most unusual of coastal features, as explained in the Visitor Centre.  The Causeway is a must-see for anyone visiting Northern Ireland, and is probably the best known and most visited site in this corner of the British Isles.  When we visited we stayed in a nearby roadside pub; alternatively the nearby village of Bushmills makes a good base.




File:Causeway-code poet-4.jpg
Photo by code poet, via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, 8 March 2018

DUNSEVERICK


The hamlet of Dunseverick, on the way from the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge to the Giant’s Causeway, is tiny but with several points of interest.  Dunseverick Castle and earthworks, on a peninsula managed by the National Trust, date from at least the 5th Century AD when St Patrick visited and baptized Olcán, a local man who later became Bishop of Ireland.  The Gate Lodge of the castle can still be seen standing proud, although ruined, on the grassy clifftop.  There is a well on the headland named after St Patrick.  Walkers can take the North Antrim Cliff Path from the castle to the Giant’s Causeway, a distance of 5 miles. 



The harbour, sheltered by basalt islets, was where many local people emigrated from during the 19th century.  They were rowed out from here to schooners headed for Glasgow or Londonderry before continuing with their onward journeys.  Between the harbour and the castle, Dunseverick Falls, although not the most dramatic of waterfalls, make a picturesque sight as they tumble down to the sea.



File:Dunseverick Castle - geograph.org.uk - 475761.jpg
Photo by Anne Burgess, via Wikimedia Commons