Taking Giant Steps on Volcanic Rock in Northern Ireland
40,000 volcanic basalt columns spew from the earth to form the Giants Causeway. This wild landscape in the farthest reaches of Northern Ireland is the stuff of legends. Heroic poetry tells how the giant Finn McCool used these bizarre outcroppings to march right into the sea to the nearby islands and beyond to Scotland (where Fingal's cave awaited him—another basalt oddity). The effect is a helter-skelter honeycomb of perfectly formed, hexagonal stepping stones that lead into the crashing waves, some up to 40 feet high. While mere humans lack the mythological dimension necessary to hop, skip, and jump across the north Atlantic, it's still a fun time scrambling among the 60-million-year-old frozen lava jungle gym and hiking the many misty trails around the promontories and clifftops.