Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
You take the high road and I’ll take the low road. – When you leave the parking lot at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, you can either take the high path along the top of the cliff or, you can take the roadway that follows along the seashore. The roadway along the seashore is a paved road allowing shuttle bus access to this very popular tourist attraction. Walking alongside the roadway is permitted for those who prefer to walk rather than ride.
In our case, we decided to take the high path along the top of the cliff. The path provides numerous excellent views of the Irish coastline on one side and expansive views of inland Irish farmlands on the other side.
The pathway takes the walker through heath that is a mix of heathers and gorse more typical of southern England. This was my first up close and personal encounter with gorse and it deserves any nasty reputation that it might have. At some points it definitely provided an impenetrable barrier to anyone wanting to stray off of the beaten path. Those who follow my travels know how much I like to travel off of the beaten path :-). Add in a bit of giant hogweed and you have a really nice mixture of nastiness. Enough to even keep me on the straight and narrow!
The path itself is well traveled and easy to follow.
On the land side, the surroundings are quite pastoral, but for those daring enough to venture closer to the cliff edge, the views of the cliffs and seashore salt marshes is quite spectacular.
A walk along the upper path provides the walker with an opportunity to view first-hand a variety of very different habitats. Along the seashore itself, there are some small areas of saltmarsh, while the cliffs provide a maritime cliff habitat with grasses and heathers clinging to the sidewalls of the cliffs and up on top there is a unique blend of heathers and gorse not normally found in Northern Ireland.
At a certain point along the upper pathway, every walker will be faced with decision time. You can continue the upper path along to Dunseverick Castle or you can take the stairs down to lower levels. We didn’t have the time to walk the significantly further distance to the castle so, with the outline of the Giant’s Causeway and its interesting geological structure beckoning, we headed downward.
The staircase itself is solid but quite steep. With no hurry to get anywhere, I could afford the luxury of taking shots of a flower or two along the way.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Should we continue down to the Giant’s Causeway or follow the cliff-side trail that continues out of sight around the edge of the cliff? Of course, no real decision to be made. Any path that goes to some out-of-sight destination attracts me like a nocturnal moth to a lamp, so off along the trail we traveled past the Giant’s pipe organ and his heart.
Then our progress along the coastline came to a grinding halt!
Well it was interesting while it lasted but we still had the actual Giant’s Causeway formation to visit and a few other stops to make so we turned around and headed back along the coastline.
Having read the warnings and information about the dangers, I joined the hundred of other tourists walking (not climbing! 🙂 ) over the Giant’s Causeway formations.
Unlike the creature in the small pools waiting for the next tide to come in, we had to move along and reluctantly leave the Giant’s Causeway. The area certainly offers many unique geological formations to ponder about.