Rainy Day at Giant’s Causeway

Sometimes it rains when traveling. While far from ideal, when the dark grey clouds move in, the wind picks up, and everything feels damp and dark and depressing, there is really nothing the poor traveler can do but make the best of a disappointing situation.

As most of our travel occurs in the (far) off season, when locals in the countries we visit are leaving for warmer weather and customs agents greet us with confused looks as we try to enter their country, we have faced plenty of less-than-perfect days. Days with poor visibility, unbearable humidity, and torrential downpours are just part and parcel of making your way around the world. If we made it a habit to wait for perfect weather we’d still be sitting in Iceland waiting for a clear and rain-free day. None of the bad weather we’d encountered on our previous travels could have prepared us for what we experienced during our visit to the British Isles this February.

Northern-Ireland---Giant's-Causeway---Red-Telephone-BoothNorthern-Ireland---Giant's-Causeway---Suspension-Bridge---HillsideA few years ago, with the invention of Pinterest, and the resulting end of my social-life, I first stumbled onto a picture of the Giant’s Causeway. One of Northern Ireland’s most beloved treasures, the Causeway is a natural formation of hexagonal basalt columns that form what appears like stepping stones from the steep shoreline cliffs into the sea. While the formation of these unique rock columns is attributed to volcanic activity in the area 50 to 60 million years ago, at the time all I knew was that it looked beautiful and I needed to see it for myself.

After years of dreaming about visiting Ireland and the Giant’s Causeway, Travis and I found ourselves aboard a discounted flight to Belfast, and my dreams of visiting the causeway began to come together. Unfortunately, there was one aspect of our visit that we couldn’t account for – the weather.

Spoiler Alert! It rained during our visit - a lot

Spoiler Alert! It rained during our visit – a lot

As we were visiting during winter it only makes sense that the weather at the causeway would be less than desirable; however as we set out from Belfast the sun was peaking out from behind a few scattered clouds and we crossed our fingers that the rain would hold. A couple hours later we found ourselves staggering across the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, a stones throw from the causeway, with only a few scattered clouds. We spent about 30 minutes hiking along the cliffs near the bridge and even had time to make the nerve-wracking 20 meter walk across the bridge itself. Set nearly 100 feet above the crashing waves below, salmon fisherman used the bridge, which only had one rope railing at the time, to transport their daily catches back to the mainland for over 350 years.

Northern-Ireland---Giant's-Causeway Northern-Ireland---Giant's-Causeway---Rope-BridgeBy the time we reached the Giant’s Causeway, just a brief 30 minutes after leaving Carrick-a-Rede, the wind had picked up and fat raindrops were beginning to fall. What happened next nearly blew us away – literally. Harsh winds made it increasingly difficult to stand atop the hexagonal rock columns of the causeway, enormous waves over ten feet high smashed against the shore, and heavy rainfall soaked the poor visitors fully exposed on the rocky shoreline – including us!

carrick-a-rede-cliffs Northern-Ireland---Giant's-Causeway---Rocky-ShoreThe rain was so severe that my camera struggled to focus at times, and after clearing the water from my lens I raised it up to only have more drops collect before I could even snap a shot. Needless to say we didn’t return home with many photos, and the ones we did manage to take are covered with blurred water marks.

Northern-Ireland---Giant's-Causeway---Rainy-Blur Northern-Ireland---Giant's-Causeway---Hexagonal-StonesAlthough our visit to the causeway was a bit disappointing, after waiting so long to visit it was saddening we couldn’t really explore the stones and venture out further towards the sea, in the end we were still able to see this beautiful site and fulfill another of our travel dreams.

Here’s a little snippet of our stormy day at the causeway.

Logistics: Reaching the causeway without a car is nearly impossible and as we didn’t want to drive on the left side of the road, we opted to join a bus tour with Paddywagon Tours. The tour includes a stop at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

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