Following rain the night before that interrupted the shooting at Giants Causeway, I headed back out there for the morning. As luck would have it I was able to get a few shots in before the rain started coming down heavy yet again.
In the grass further up the hill they use erosion mats in the grass that are made up of little octagons to match the basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway. The information center also looks like a modern fortress built into the hillside.
The little Dacia Duster strutting its stuff on the beach. It seemed small by Canadian standards but I had no troubles finding it in parking lots. It was still about 30% larger and taller than most of the vehicles in Ireland. It made driving on narrow roads on the right side of the car a bit of a unique learning experience.
I can’t take credit for the crisp sand drawing though. I stumbled across it as I was heading along the beach.
The Mussenden Temple perched above the cliffs of the North Atlantic. I wasn’t able to actually view it up close as most of the attractions in Ireland open around 09:00 – 10:00 so it doesn’t match up to an early start very well. From the photos I’ve seen of the Downhill House and Mussenden Temple it does look like it is worth stopping into.
Hiking along the beach I saw what looked like a dark opening in the cliff face. After some bolder hoping, I quickly learned there is considerable tidal movement as a few big waves isolated me on a couple boulders! With a bit of a quickened heart beat I made it over to the mouth of this cavern.
It started off large as a subway tunnel but quickly reached what appeared to be a dead end. Inspecting the rock face there was a small cavity that appeared to continue further on. I wasn’t quite dressed for it at the time but gave the local caving expert, Michal, a call to get a run down on what I was missing here. Turns out it does go in for a little bit of a ways but then ends.
On the way back to the Duster, I came across a fisherman fishing for some kind of fish. If you have ever wondered how they keep the beach clean, they pull a big unit behind a tractor as he drives down the length of the beach.
It was time to head underground in the Marble Arch Cave. It is a tourist cave so no special equipment is required short of a jacket to stay warm. It is definitely a place to visit in my opinion as they have a plethora of stalactites, stalagmites, and flow stones to see firsthand!
They normally have a small river entrance that takes you in on a small boat which follows the path the initial explorers took. Due to all of the rain we were getting that portion of the cave was flooded and it was unable to be taken.
The second photo is of an impressive flowstone called "The Castle" formed by the trickling of water over head. The top base of this was over a meter and half!
There is one section you actually walk below the water line. An ingenious solution was drafted up to connect a further area of the cave to allow the tours to go in deeper. It was only a recent addition a few years ago to extend the tours. The water was just an inch or so away from the lip and this area was also closed recently due to the rains.
If you ever forget how stalagmite and stalactites work, just remember that the Mites go up when the Tights go down!
After the Marble Arch Cave I still had a little bit of time before the next adventure which I was actually quite excited about …but first …sheep! You will find them everywhere, roads, cliffs, hills, mountains, blind corners, everywhere… The camera was still adjusting to the change in humidty at this point.
Pollnagollum Of The Boats but due to the rain, it was also flooded.
Instead, we headed off to the White Father Cave which is an active underground river. The increased water flow had its own unique challenges. Due to being an active stream, the third cave sumps at the end which means that during periods of heavy rain you might actually get trapped inside. It also can flow rather quickly at times which can be dangerous on its own. Be sure to never venture into a cave on your own as there are true hazards that exist, there is no safety net.
We dawned the wet suites and gear and headed in. As the cave is formed by an active stream and there is consistent water flowing throughout the growth of the stalagmites and stalactites was truly remarkable to witness. There were curtains upon curtains!
Photography inside the cave was a challenge. The high humidity meant there was trouble with keeping equipment and lenses dry and the lack of safe areas prevented the pelican case to even be put down in most places. The riverbed was also not smooth so you were constantly stepping up and down through holes and rocks that were not visible thanks to the brown tea that is Irish water.
I don’t believe there was one section of the cave that was not exciting. Start to finish it was an amazing experience.
The last section of the cave requires you to swim back out against the current. In heavy rain, as we were having for a few days, it forms a sump and you might actually get trapped inside. It makes you feel wonderful as it the current pushes against you and inches you ever closer.
As the water got deeper and the flash guns started to die we started getting some humidity issues as well. We ended up turning around and started to make our way back out.
With what I learned after shooting my first wet cave, I would love to go back one day and shoot it with a tripod and larger steady burn lamps. The textures and various shapes are breath taking.
On the way out Brian spotted a little bat hanging from the ceiling. I would like to extend a big thank you for the patience of both these guys and putting up with standing around in the cold water!
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