Walking In The Footsteps of Finn MacCool
Bushmills Travel Blog› entry 44 of 49 › view all entries
January 3rd, 2008 – by: TRE69
Mar and I really wanted to walk so we immediately set off on the Causeway Coast Cliff Path. Fortunately, we were given 2 hours to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site...YAY! Even though the late morning sun was shining brightly, the wind was bone chillingly cold! Walking briskly definitely kept me warm.
The Causeway Coast Cliff Path was a very well kept dirt trail that hugged the edge of the headlands above Giant's Causeway. Other than short wooden fences at very scenic viewpoints along the trail, the only barriers between the cliff's edge and the trail were overgrown hedges or tall hardy winter grasses. The Causeway Coast Cliff Path actually is a section of the Causeway Coast Way, a 33 mile trail from Portstewart to Ballycastle.
The views along the Causeway Coast Cliff Path were just amazing...rugged cliffs and headlands, multicolored rocky coastline, brilliantly blue skies, and frothy waves crashing against the honeycombed basaltic rocks! It took us about half an hour to get from the Giant's Causeway Vistor Center to Shepherd's Steps, a flat rock staircase bordered by a wooden fence which descended the cliffs.
Local legend and folklore says that Giant's Causeway was built by giant Finn MacCool as a stone bridge to get to Scotland to fight the giant Benandonner, who had been taunting and mocking Finn from across the Channel. Finn was too tired to fight from building the causeway so Finn disguised himself as a baby sleeping in a huge crib. Benandonner crossed over to Ireland looking for a fight but Finn's wife, keeping up with her husbands ruse, told Benandonner that Finn was NOT around and to be quiet because their "baby" was sleeping. Benandonner was amazed at the baby's size and wondered how big Finn would be. Benandonner then proceeded to touch the "baby" when Finn bit off Benandonner's fingertip causing Benandonner to speculate on Finn's viciousness.
Remnants of the stone bridge and its hexagonal columns can also be seen on the island of Staffa in Scotland at Fingal's Cave. However scientific evidence indicate that Giant's Causeway and Fingal's Cave were formed during the early Tertiary period from much volcanic activity and tectonic plate shifting. Anyways...
About half way between the top of Shepherd's Steps and the bottom at Port Noffer is a geological feature called Giant's Organ. These very tall basalt columns, from a distance, look like the pipes in a pipe organ...hence the nickname. Up close though, these columns look like huge stacks of old tires...but still very impressive and very ancient!
We continued on the trail down to the shores of Port Noffer.
From the boot we headed back below the Causeway headlands towards Giant's Causeway along the trail. It was much colder along the shoreline because we were completely shadowed by the steep headlands towering above us. At Giant's Causeway, I marveled at the honeycomb shaped columns, caused by lava outflows, and their geological history that is millions of years old...plus it was fun stepping on the stones without touching the cracks! I didn't count them but it is rumored that there are around 40,000 hexagonal shaped stones!
After the fun and awe had faded from seeing these ancient rock formations, Mar and I made our way along the trail back up to the visitor's center for a warm respite from the winter cold at the National Trust Tea Room before boarding the Paddywagon bound for parts further west.
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