Following the giants footsteps, Thursday 5 August

Written by Matthew

When visiting the Emerald Isle, one expects a certain amount of the rain that keeps Ireland lush and green. To be honest, there’s been a distinct absence of rain since we arrived – but that all changed today. The rain arrived in bucket-loads, which made our two-hour drive to the Giant’s Causeway fairly soggy.

When I was young I was occasionally allowed to stay overnight at Kathleen and Stuart’s house, they were close friends of my mum and Janet’s – a bit like non-biological aunt and uncle. Kathleen had made my mum’s wedding dress as she was an amazing seamstress. Stuart was into amateur dramatics and so their loft was full of fantastic costumes (heaven for a young gay boy with something of a fancy for musical theater!) I slept in Kathleen and Stuart’s back bedroom and there they had a shelf full of guidebooks to National Trust properties they’d visited. I was fascinated by these National Trust guides and I remember wondering if I would ever visit any of these wonderful places.

Fast forward a few years and here I am the proud owner of a National Trust membership card (courtesy of aunt Janet at Christmas – thank-you very much!) and we’re certainly making the most of our NT membership this week. We’ve already visited Castle Ward (a castle with a split personality, half gothic and half classical) and the lovely Rowallane woodland garden, but the Giant’s Causeway is once place that’s on both of our bucket lists, so rain or no rain, nothing was going to stop us.

Fortunately for us, the rain stopped almost as soon as we arrived at the Giant’s Causeway. The rain may have stopped but there was plenty of moisture around. Zoly’s first task at any pit stop is to empty the tank (and it’s a big tank), so no soon as we’d arrived at the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre, then MR Z’s leg was cocked and the floodgate opened. This reminded us that Zoly has weed on quite a few World Heritage Sites – Bath, Iron-bridge Gorge, Pontcysyllte and now the Giant’s Causeway!

Waiting for Zoly

We followed the longer red trail from the visitor centre along the top of the cliff, then descended the steps to the beach and the causeway.

Apparently there are approximately 40,000 mostly hexagon-shaped columns, but also some heptagon- and pentagon-shaped ones. The rain seemed to have kept the crowds away, as we were able to explore the site with ease. The rock formations are amazing and we were both overwhelmed by their beauty.

At the furthest point of the causeway, a hardy National Trust steward was stood to stop visitors going right to the end of the rocks. That didn’t stop one intrepid tourist (and their dog). ‘Excuse me Sir, no further please’ – said the steward, but it fell on deaf ears (as usual ). The misty eyed tourist, lost in the beauty and magic of the location had a camera phone in hand and nothing was going to stop him getting the perfect Vizsla holiday snap! ‘MIKE!!’ I hollered – ‘He says you can’t go there’. ‘Why not?’ he replied, disgruntled. ‘Because you can’t, people might drown’ I replied. ‘Well that would be their own fault’ he said. I pointed out that the National Trust might have a duty of care for their visitors, but he was not impressed. I think we can all be relieved that a certain Vizsla owner isn’t in charge of health and safety at the University of Bristol. Access restricted or not, he still got some lovely Vizsla shots – probably coming to a Christmas card near you soon!

This far and no further

On the way back to our cottage we made a little detour to Glenoe Falls in a lovely secluded glen near Larne – it’s 30’ or almost 10 meters high.

Can I go in please dad?
Heaven!

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