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Crossing the Giant’s Causeway

First suggested by Scouts NI
Follow the footsteps of giants, and work as a team to get everyone across the Irish Sea.

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You’ll need

  • Hoops (or ropes tied to create loops)
  • Something to mark lines
  • Device to show video/pictures (optional)
  • Access to internet (optional)

Running this activity on or around St Patrick's Day

This is a great activity to do on or around the 17 March for St Patrick’s Day. St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. Lots of people all around the world celebrate the day every year. It’s a celebration of Irish history and culture, and it’s a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  

St Patrick's Day started as a religious feast to celebrate the work of Saint Patrick, but it has grown to be an international festival celebrating all things Irish. People take part in parades, go dancing, eat Irish food, and enjoy firework displays. The day’s also famous around the world for people wearing shamrocks, dressing up as leprechauns, and wearing all green. 

St Patrick’s the patron saint of Ireland. He’s celebrated for bringing Christianity to the country. He trained as a priest, then travelled to convert thousands of people to Christianity. 

The exact dates of Patrick's life are unknown, but sometime after 431 AD St Patrick was appointed as successor to St Palladius, who was the first bishop of Ireland. 

He's traditionally associated with the shamrock, a type of clover and is often pictured holding one. The three-leaved plant, symbolic of Ireland and of St Patrick's Day, has an important meaning for Christians.  

It’s said to represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three leaves of a shamrock are also said to stand for faith, hope and love. A fourth leaf’s said to be where we get the luck from - you may have heard of 'lucky clover'. 

Legends say that St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland This is one of the most famous stories around St Patrick, but the chances are that it didn't happen. It’s unlikely there ever were any snakes in Ireland. However, the snake may be a reference to a serpent, which is a symbol of evil, and the driving out may be a reference to St Patrick's mission to get rid of non-Christian influence in Ireland.



Before you begin  

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely. 
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers 

Setting up the activity 

  • Decide what size of teams you want to use, as this will let you know how many hoops you’ll need. For each team, the number of hoops should be at least one fewer than the number of people in the team. For example, a team of five would use four hoops or fewer. 
  • You could also use pieces of A4 paper, instead of hoops, for groups to stand on. Again, limit the number of pieces of paper to make it harder. 
  • Set up or mark out a start and finish line at either side of the meeting place, with lots of space in-between.  
  • If you want to, you could print off some photos of the Giant’s Causeway before the session for people to look at. 

Exploring the Giant’s Causeway 

  1. Gather everyone in a circle. 
  2. Everyone can share anything they know about the Giant’s Causeway. Ask if anyone knows what it is, where it is or if anyone has been there. Let people share their answers.  
  3. Tell everyone that The Giant’s Causeway makes up one of Northern Ireland's most impressive coastal landscapes. The world-famous stones and coastline are a World Heritage Site. It’s made up of over 40,000 massive hexagonal black basalt columns of stones, sticking out of the sea. You can find this popular tourist attraction on the north east coast, in County Antrim. 
  4. People can look at or pass around some photos of the Giant’s Causeway. If you’re able to at your meeting place, you could do the  National Trust’s  virtual tour.  
  5. Now, ask everyone how they think the Giant’s Causeway was created? Let people share their ideas.  
  6. Tell everyone that the Giant’s Causeway is thought to have been created by volcanic activity, around 60 million years ago, with lava cooling to form the columns of stone.  
  7. Ask if anyone has heard any legends around The Giant’s Causeway. Again, let people share their thoughts and ideas.  
  8. Explain that there are lots of myth and legends surrounding the Giant’s Causeway, including the legend of a giant called Finn McCool. Read out, or ask a young person or young leader, to read out the legend of Finn McCool below.

The legend of Finn McCool

There’s a legend about an Irish giant called Finn McCool. He’s also called Fionn Mac Cumhaill. He’s said to have torn up huge chunks of the Irish coastline and hurled them into the sea. This was so he could create a path across the Irish Sea to Scotland to face his rival, the Scottish giant named Benandonner. 

Perhaps because Finn McCool was tired from all that hard work, or because he realised that the Scottish giant was much bigger than him, he decided he didn’t want to face his rival after all.  

Finn rushed back home to Ireland, so fast that he lost one of his boots on the way.  Finn’s wife then came up with a clever plan to trick Benandonner, by disguising Finn as a baby. 

Benandonner crossed the sea and came to Finn’s house to find him. He saw the huge ‘baby’. Because the baby was so big, he then thought the baby’s father must be huge - even bigger than Benandonner was.  

So, Benandonner fled back to Scotland in a hurry. As he ran, he broke up the pathway as he went, leaving the Giant’s Causeway that we see today. A causeway’s a raised path or road, across wet ground or water. 

You can watch the story in this short Legend of Giants Causeway animation.   

Play the game 

  1. Everyone should get into smaller groups and stand by the start line.  
  2. Show everyone where the finish line is. 
  3. Tell everyone that they need to cross the Irish Sea and the hoops are their rocks, just like the one’s Finn McCool threw into the sea to create the Giant’s Causeway. 
  4. Explain that each group needs to cross the space by only using and standing in the hoops, just like stepping stones. No-one can touch any of the floor that’s outside the hoop.  
  5. The person leading the activity should give each group several hoops. They’ll need at least one less than the number of players in the group. For example, for a group of four or five players, three hoops will work well. For six players, use four or five hoops.  For a larger team of 15, you could use 10 hoops.  
  6. If any member of the group who touches the floor outside the hoop falls in the ‘sea’. They have to ‘swim’ back to the start.  
  7. The rest of the group need to use the hoops and go back to the start line to get them, again without touching the floor outside the hoop. 
  8. The first team to get safely to the finish line is the winner, though you could also give out prizes or celebrate groups who worked well as team, communicated well or encouraged each other. 
  9. Adult volunteers and young leaders may need to help the groups work out how to get across the space with the hoops. 
  10. Once each group has tried to cross the ‘sea’, everyone should talk about their experience of the game and what it was like to work together. What was hard about it? How did you find a way that worked for you? 


This activity was about solving problems and learning to be a team player to get the whole team across the ‘sea’. Was it easy or difficult to get across the space? How did you find out the best way to cross the ‘sea’? What did you learn about working together in a team? 


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

Contact games and activities

Make sure everyone understands what contact is acceptable, and monitor contact throughout the activity.

Electrical equipment

Inspect cables for any damage before each use. A responsible adult should supervise people using equipment, and people should follow instructions on how to use them correctly and safely. They should be properly maintained and stored. Be extra cautious of trailing cables and water when using electric equipment.

You can adjust the number of hoops compared to the number of players. Use a fewer number of hoops or smaller hoops to make the game more difficult. 

If you want to make it harder, use pieces of A4 paper, instead of hoops, for groups to stand on. Again, limit the number of pieces of paper to make it harder. 

For an extra challenge, you could add objects along the route for the groups to collect. You could include things a giant might use, such as a boot to represent Finn’s boot in the legend. 

Some people might find it difficult to balance or move the hoops. If people have mobility or balance difficulties, they could referee the game if they wanted instead 

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Try out some more Irish themed activities [LINK] 

The teams should be encouraged to work out how to get from start to finish by themselves. Adult volunteers and young leaders should be ready to help the teams if theyre struggling.