The Giants Causeway is an iconic landmark that is world famous, as well as being a site of World Heritage. It is located along the fabulous coast of Antrim in the north east of Northern Ireland, one of Europe’s most splendid coastlines. It consists of 40,000 interlocking massive black basalt columns that extend upwards out of the sea, they were formed some sixty million years ago by volcanic activity. They developed when highly fluid molten rock was forced up through fissures in the chalk bed to form the large scale lava plateau seen today. These unique rock formations have served as a natural defence against the ferocious Atlantic storms.
The rugged symmetry of the columns is fascinating, and were the result of three separate periods of volcanic activity which caused the flows, referred to as the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts. It was the Middle Basalts rocks that created the columns of the Giants Causeway and their world renowned columnar structure. The columns are mostly hexagonal but, there are some with eight sides. The tallest columns are around twelve metres (39 feet) high. Some of the formations have names, look out for the Giants Eyes, Chimney Stacks, The Harp, The Organ and The Camels Hump.
Today it is a major tourist attraction but, more importantly is a habitat for rare plants and animals. The area is a haven for many species of sea bird, visitors will see them nesting in the rocks or in the air above.
Located here is an innovative and imaginative Visitor Centre where visitors can learn about the formation of the columns and the people who have studied them, along with the mythology associated with them, at one time it was believed they were formed by giants crossing the sea to Scotland, in addition to the history, geology, flora and fauna of the area, as well as the many walks that tourists can take. There is an audio-visual presentation as well as a souvenir shop, and tea rooms too. There are audio guides available.
There is a walk of around 0.8 Kilometres (0.5miles) to reach the Causeway, or tourists can opt to take the bus service that runs from the centre to the Causeway, there is an additional charge for the use of this service. There is also a longer circular walk that follows the cliff path to Shepherd’s Steps and back by the Giants Causeway, this walk is 3 kilometres (nearly 2 miles).
The Giants Causeway is a is a must see on any itinerary, it draws people from all over the world and is a photo opportunity not to be missed.