Less than 2 hours northwest of Belfast is Giant’s Causeway. It was formed by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago resulting in 40,000 or so interlocked basalt columns. These mostly hexagonal columns form stepping stones leading from the bottom of the cliff into the ocean. It was made an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. Legend has it that the causeway was built by an Irish giant who was challenged to a fight by a Scottish giant. The Irish giant discovered that the Scottish giant was much bigger than himself and hid. The Irish giant’s wife decided to dress him like a baby and tucked him inside a cradle so that when the Scottish giant came, he thought if the baby is already so big, the father must be enormous. The Scottish giant decided to flee back to Scotland destroying the causeway along the way. Nice little story :)
Enroute to and from the Causeway, we visited many of the beautiful sites used in HBO’s Game of Thrones series such as Cushenden Caves, Carrick-a-Rede bridge, Dunluce Castle, and Dark Hedges.
We stopped by the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge near Ballintoy. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It is about 20 meters long and 30 meters high. It is believed the first bridges to the island were built by salmon fishermen. Nowadays, mostly tourists come to visit and there are always some who are unable to face the walk back across the bridge and have to be taken back by boat.
Dunluce Castle is a ruined medieval castle located on the edge of a basalt not far from Giant’s Causeway. It is isolated from the coast by a 20-foot chasm. The castle was abandoned in 1639 after one evening when the kitchen, along with the kitchen staff, all fell into the sea. This was House of Greyjoy in the Game of Thrones.
My favorite was the Dark Hedges which was the backdrop for King’s Road in the Game of Thrones. These beautiful beech trees were planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family designed to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their mansion Gracehill. I love the mysterious air of these tree tunnels.
After a wonderful few days in Northern Ireland, we took the aircoach bus for a 2-hour ride to Dublin to continue our journey in Ireland. Stayed tuned!
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