Monday, July 18, 2011

In Giant's Footsteps

If, like me, your mental images of Northern Ireland were coloured by extensive television footage of people throwing petrol bombs in a rainy Belfast, the real place comes as a huge and stunning shock of the very best kind.

This, for example.

And this:

Yes, the Giant's Causeway, world-famous and deservedly so.

You walk along a coastal path from a car park, round a corner, and there it is: thousands upon thousands of stones made of basalt, mostly hexagonal, some short, some tall. They were either formed millions of years ago by volcanic means, or built by a giant, Finn McCool - you may take your choice of stories.

They stretch out into the sparkling sea:

Two grey seals were watching us with interest, their dark heads bobbing up from time to time as they discussed us. "Look - if you come here any day at all there are lots of people to watch. Wonder why they all congregate in this spot?"

Looking from beside the sea towards the land, this is the view:

It's a World Heritage Site, owned by the National Trust, and I was slightly surprised and very grateful that it hasn't been too Health and Safetyfied.

I was half-expecting not to be allowed to walk on the stones in case we damaged them, or in case they damaged us.

But hurrah! There weren't any notices saying that the stones were uneven and that we should take care. We just had to jolly well work that one out for ourselves. And, cleverly, we did. We all climbed all over them, marvelling and taking photographs. Stephen and I have some natural caution, but Silverback, I tell you, will stand absolutely anywhere to get a good shot, especially if it's on the extreme edge of something with a very long drop into some churning seas below.

It was my 55th (yes, I know, I know, sighhh) birthday. There has never been a better place to spend a birthday than the Giant's Causeway, and I doubt if anyone has ever enjoyed being there more than I did last week.

Northern Ireland is fantastic. Beautiful. Fascinating. Words nearly fail me - - but hey, those who know me will be certain that will never happen. So there'll be more posts to come.


Anonymous Helen said...

I went to Northern Ireland - toured the coast - a couple of years ago, and it sounds as though your experience matched mine! Breathtaking, magical, and nothing like the NI I'd known from the news. I think they keep it secret on purpose.

10:52 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Beautiful. Fascinating... Bigoted? I have been there too.

11:56 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I knew if I waited long enough I'd see some fabulous photos of Norn Iron.

1:14 pm  

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