Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Published July 29th 2020
Sway with the wind on this thrilling bridge walk
Australians have long been great travellers and adventurers. However, thanks to COVID-19, many of our overseas travel plans have been put on hold indefinitely. But that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy having adventures! We may not be able to leave the airport to have them, but at least we can still dream about them and imagine them and plan them for a time when our world will get back to some kind of normal.
Late last year, I was very, very lucky to fit in a European adventure before we had even heard of Coronavirus. In this series, I will share with you some of the more interesting places I visited, places that you might just want to add to your post-Coronavirus overseas holiday list if you haven't been there already.
Are you ready? Then let's head out to Northern Ireland, along the famous Causeway Coastal Route. Our stop is the electrifying Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge!
Swaying more than 30 metres above the Atlantic ocean is a very famous suspension bridge that connects a tiny island with the County Antrim mainland. The bridge is now a major focal point along the spectacular Causeway Coastal Route, which winds its way from Belfast to Londonderry. But it's also the latest reincarnation of many other bridges that have hung between the mainland and the island of Carrickarede for hundreds of years.
Welcome to the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge!
Carrick-A-Rede Carrick-A-Rede is Scottish Gaelic for "rock in the road." The island is certainly a rock in the road for the migrating Atlantic salmon who hope to return to the rivers in which they had been born. Thanks to all that salmon swarming in the ocean, fishermen have been making their way to the island since at least 1620. But it wasn't until 1755 when the first rope bridge between the mainland and Carrick-a-Rede was constructed to reduce reliance on boats to reach the island. In the nineteenth century, fishing was a flourishing industry for the island and the parish of Ballintoy on the mainland. Catches of up to 300 salmon a day were common until the 1960's. However, fishing pressure at sea and river pollution led to a decline in salmon. The last fish was caught at Carrick-a-Rede in 2002.
The swaying bridge The days of salmon fishing are now a distant memory for Carrickarede. But the site has reinvented itself as a tourist attraction. Now owned and operated by the National Trust, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is a major stopover along the Causeway Coastal Route. The current bridge was made and raised in 2008. And just like in the old fairy stories when trolls demanded payment for crossing their bridges, you also need to pay a small fee to cross the bridge to visit the enchanted island that is Carrickorede.
From the bridge and the island, you are surrounded by the wild beauty and magnificent views of the coast, the surrounding ocean, as well as Rathlin Island (Northern Island's most northernmost point) and also the coast of Scotland.
Depending on how you view things, the bridge walk can be either electrifying or terrifying. For both myself and my son, we found the bridge walk electrifying; my husband, however, found it terrifying! But I also found it somewhat frustrating when a few tourists suddenly stopped in the middle of the bridge to take selfies (even though they had been strictly instructed not to!), delaying those of us wanting to return to the mainland.
Getting to the bridge and the island is an adventure in itself. There is a considerable walk (about 1km) from the carpark and visitor centre to the bridge, and is therefore not suitable nor designed for people with mobility issues, as there are steep stairs descending towards and going up from the bridge. But if you can manage it, the trail itself is well worth the walk for the spectacular views of the coastline on one side and the lusciously green rolling hills of the mainland on the other.
The things you need to know Facilities at Carrick-A-Rede include a carpark, toilets, and tea room/souvenir shop. These are all located about 1km away from the bridge itself.
Tickets to walk the bridge must be booked via the National Trust beforehand.
Unfortunately at the time of writing, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is closed to the public. The car park, toilets, and tearoom shop are also closed. But if you are visiting the area, the coastal path is still open. And even if you can't walk the bridge, you can still take photos of it.
When the bridge finally reopens, timed tickets to cross the bridge will need to be booked. Please check here for updates.
Carrick-A-Rede Bridge is located at 119a Whitepark Road, Ballintoy, County Antrim, BT54 6LS.