BUSHMILLS, NORTHERN IRELAND - On a cold, blustery October day, with a raw wind whipping off the North Atlantic, I arrive at the entrance to the famed Giant’s Causeway, a place so magical it has inspired many artists to capture its unique beauty on canvas and tempts more than 300,000 people from all around the world to visit here each year.
It’s almost a rite of passage that every one of Irish decent make the pilgrimage here to pay homage to the Giant — a collection of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns stretched along the jagged Atlantic coastline that experts claim was the result of an ancient volcanic eruption millions of years ago.
The Irish disagree, of course. They tell me the Giants Causeway was created by the legendary Irish warrior Finn McCool as stepping-stones that allowed him to walk across the sea — without getting his feet wet, of course — so he could engage his Scottish rival Benandonner in battle.
Above: Dancing on the Causeway is a memorable moment.
A tall tale, indeed, but one that is far more romantic than a geological event.
As I stand at the entrance and look down on the dramatic rock formations that stretches into the icy ocean, I’m struck by the beauty of everything surrounding the Giant’s Causeway — the rolling green fields that drop off into the Atlantic surf are a little greener here and the sky much bluer than I’ve ever seen it before.
Above: The Giants Causeway is a great place to reflect.
As I start making my way down the long path that leads to where the Giant is stretched out, a light mist hangs over head and the freshness of the sea air takes my breath away.
With my ear firmly pressed against the mechanical storybook (audio guide) they gave me at the entrance, I listen to the mythical stories surrounding certain rock formations as I descend — the Honeycomb, Granny’s Rock and the Wishing Chair are the ones with the best legends attached to them. The Wishing Chair was where Finn McCool supposedly rested and now it’s where visitors like me sit and make a wish.
Because it’s so late in the year, there’s far less tourists balancing on the hexagon-shaped rocks that actually do look like they’ve been carved by hand — maybe the Finn McCool legend is true, after all.
I pause on one of the smooth-faced rocks and look out to sea — I hear voices but there’s no one in sight. The wind carries sound a long way here. Very eerie!
The child in me comes out as I playfully hop from one uneven rock to another — the slick surface makes it hard to keep my balance. Every rock looks different. Each has its own distinct design — they’re like stone snowflakes.
I’m having so much fun that I don’t notice the sun has started to drop into the sea — it’s time to leave.
After dropping off the audio guide, I have time to take a few more pictures to record my visit to the Giant, a stone legend that will live forever in my mind.