Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ireland, Day Four - Giant's Causeway

Dena said, "I promised you our days would be jam packed."  So on this Saturday we had to get up early again, get on a train, and then a tour bus out to Northern Ireland - Belfast, Bushmills, and eventually the Giant Causeway.

Kathleen prepared us for the "Line of Demarcation" when we got to Northern Ireland because we would see the Union Jack flying.  She seemed disappointed that our tour through Belfast did not include the murals depicting the challenges as the Catholics and Protestants fought for years in Northern Ireland.  We drove quickly past the shipyards where the Titantic museum now stands and we just caught a glimpse of the memorial that resembles the size of the historic ship.

We ate our dinner at Old Bushmills cafeteria.  I enjoyed my Guinness pie and orange cheesecake!  Yummy.  Had to buy samples of this famous whiskey for Dale, Don, and me!  One of the travelers on our bus told the tour guide, "it tasted terrible."

The Giant's Causeway, renowned for its polygonal columns of layered basalt, is the only World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Resulting from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, this is the focal point of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has attracted visitors for centuries. It harbours a wealth of local and natural history.
The formation of the Giant's Causeway was due to intense volcanic activity. Lava welling up through fissures in the chalk bed formed a "lava plateau". Three periods of volcanic activity gave rise to the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts, and it's the Middle Basalt rock which forms the famous amphitheatres of hexagonal columns in the Causeway.
The Giant’s Causeway is steeped in myth and legend. Some say it was carved from the coast by the mighty giant, Finn McCool who left behind an ancient home full of folklore. Look out for clues of the existence of the mighty giant, Finn McCool – including Giant’s Boot, The Wishing Chair, The Camel, Giant’s Granny and The Organ. On a clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of Finn’s Scottish opponent, Benandonner’s homeland of Scotland.
Sea birds can be seen off the coast around the Causeway, with species such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank guillemot and razorbill being frequently observed. Rare and unusual plant species including sea spleenwort, hare's foot trefoil, vernal squill, sea fescue and frog orchid can be found on the cliffs and nearby rock formations.

Amazing rock shapes
Basalt columns - much like those along the Palouse River

I think these are wild primroses!

Karen and I walked all around this beautiful sight while Kathleen and Dena headed to the gift shop to rest and have some tea.  We got our best exercise of the trip while being awed by the gorgeous views!  I think we slept most of the way home on the bus, arriving back at the hotel at 10:30 PM, but happy we could sleep in tomorrow.

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