Belfast’s best rocks

Sometimes the best rocks you’ll see haven’t been mined, cut, polished and set in a mount. Sometimes rocks are best just left where they are.

The Giant’s Causeway: far side of the pavement in a rare crowd free moment.


Cliffs around the Giant’s Causeway


The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s big visitor attraction. It’s about an hour’s drive from Belfast, three miles northeast of the town of Bushmills, and its very easy to arrange a private or organised tour if you don’t have your own transport.

Officially, the Causeway is a formation of around 40,00 basalt columns, interlocking to form a range of coastal features. The Causeway itself resembles a path out to sea, but the surrounding cliff faces are just as spectacular if not more so.

But what the guides don’t tell you is that the the Giant’s Causeway does not go that far out to sea! And they don’t tell you about the masses of people clambering all over the basalt columns, the intrusive bright green busses that move the hordes from the ugly National Trust visitor centre to the Causeway, and the wave upon wave of tour buses from both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic that bring the crowds to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

OK, so the crowds got to me. But there is an escape route. Stay on top of the cliffs and you’ll avoid (most of) the crowds, get plenty of space to take dramatic pictures and enjoy the view out to see. The cliff-top path goes on for miles: enough for a full day’s hike should you be so inclined. Or just walk for long enough to feel you deserve a pint of creamy Guinness at The Nook, a charming little pub cannily perched near that ugly visitor centre.

The Giant’s Causeway had been on my bucket list for years; and, having been there, I must confess to a sense of disappointment and anti-climax. Hopefully you’ll go there on a quieter day than I did.

Let me leave you with a picture of The Giant’s Causeway in all its glory.

Limestone pavement, Giant’s Causeway. No crowds.

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