So near, yet so far

I’ve just returned from a few days visiting a friend in Northern Ireland. Whilst I was there, she very kindly drove me out to the north coast to visit the Giant’s Causeway (whilst getting considerable comic mileage out of accusations that I’d only condescended to visit her because she’d ended up living near some interesting rocks).

Unfortunately, the weather was rather uncooperative, and whilst torrential rain and strong winds might not have been enough to discourage me from a couple of hours poking at columnar basalts, it would have been beyond unfair to force such conditions on my companion. We briefly stopped at a small harbour a little way down the coast in where you can see some of the same basaltic lava flows, erupted during the opening of the North Atlantic about 60 million years ago, but instead of nice regular columns there’s a much more irregular jumble, probably thanks to the interaction of water with the cooling lava (as I’ve discussed before).


Fortunately, since the Bushmill’s Distillery is just down the road, the excursion was not entirely without its delights. And all this really means is that I’ll have to revisit Northern Ireland… to see my friend again, of course!

Has anyone else driven past cool geological sites without getting to see them?

Categories: outcrops, photos

Comments (8)

  1. Anon says:

    On a family vacation in which we visited all the biggies–Yellowstone, Bryce, Yosemite, the Grand canyon, and more (including stops in both Canada and Mexico–it was a long and wonderful trip)… we were all looking forward to seeing the Devil’s Tower, but none of us must have been paying attention when we zoomed right past the appropriate exit on the highway… Realized it some hours later.
    At the time, my mother taught high school Earth Science, so we stopped at some places where others might not have, and collected souvenirs that others might not have, like drill core samples from an asbestos mine.

  2. AnnaW says:

    My husband MrW is from Northern Ireland and has been promising to take me to the Causeway for some considerable time (11 years and counting). This has, despite multiple visits to the Province, never happened for various fairly pathetic reasons. The fact that you too were ‘prevented’ from seeing it merely confirms what I have long suspected – that the entire Causeway is simply a myth perpetuated by the NI Tourist Board.

  3. Simba says:

    By a lucky chance I managed to arrive at the causeway at sunset. Go at sunset, I don’t care if it means waiting 17 hours in a car on the side of a hill. It’s amazingly beautiful.
    Of course, as you may have noticed, I’m an NI tourist board shill. If you go at sunset, it gives you more time to get lost and perpetuate the myth of the giant’s causeway.

  4. Garry Hayes says:

    The very first international field trip I led was to Scotland to see some of the great geology, but especially some of the famous Hutton localities. We committed to the trip 1 1/2 years in advance, having no idea that hoof and mouth disease was about to be detected in the British Isles, including the farms around Siccar Point. So near, so far is so right! Access was impossible. We went to a campground about a mile north of Siccar Point and walked as far as we could along the beach cliffs to where we could see the point, but not the relationships (although we could pick up the associated rocks along the coast). The story is here:

  5. Sciencewoman says:

    Flooding kept me from seeing Kata Tjuta in Australia’s great red center.

  6. Lab Lemming says:

    Drove cross country in ’94 without stopping at that cinematic volcanic neck in NE Wyoming, or the badlands, or the black hills, or the Mississippi River.
    Seen the Mississippi in TN on a later occasion, though.

  7. Kara says:

    Several times, in fact on family vacations, when I simply could not convince my parents to let me look at another cool rock formation on the way to our our ‘real’ destination.
    Oh, and also on a couple of trips with my college geo classes. We wouldn’t have time to see them on the way to other formations, so we were forced to stare wistfully out of the van windows.

  8. Zuska says:

    These stories all make me very sad. I wish you all happy visits to glorious geologic sites now and in the near future and forever, as you all surely deserve!