When it comes to exploring a country, the more hands-on and unique the experience the better, which is why I constantly rhyme off coastal route road trips like the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route when I’m recommending people things to do.
There’s no need to meticulously plan out the trip – just follow the signs and you’ll stumble across more breathtaking scenery than you’d imagine possible.
If you have your sights set on the Antrim Coastal Route, or if you’re visiting Belfast and considering taking a spin outside the city to soak up some mesmerising coastline, then stick the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge into your travel itinerary.
What it’s all about
You’ll find Northern Ireland’s much loved rope bridge on the North Antrim Coast road, nestled between Balintoy and Ballycastle.
A tourist favorite, the bridge proudly sits on the pages of many popular tourist guides and has thousands of roaring reviews on TripAdvisor.
Best to avoid it when it’s raining, though (if possible).
About the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
The name, Carrick-a-Rede, comes from the Scottish Gaelic ‘Carraig-a-Rade’ which means “The Rock in the Road” – an obstacle for the migrating salmon, who have been fished at Carrick-a-Rede and Larrybane since 1620.
For those afraid of heights – and for those seeking an adrenaline boost – the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge hangs over 25 foot above the chilly waters below and is a cosy one meter wide.
The journey from one side to the other is more a casual stroll than a daring quest so, if you do struggle with heights, you can take the journey at your own pace and enjoy the views.
The History of Antrim’s rope bridge
Although fishing at Carrick-a-Rede began around 1620, it wasn’t until 1755 that the first rope bridge between the mainland and Carrick-a-Rede Island was erected.
During the 19th century, many fishermen frequented the waters around the bridge, with catches of up to 300 salmon common until the 1960’s.
The little island provided the perfect platform for casting nets off into the icy waters below.
Over the years the link to the island has experienced many facelifts. That was until 2008 when a construction firm from Belfast erected the current wire rope bridge which stands firmly under those who cross it today.
These days, the bridge poses more of an attraction to tourists than it does fishermen, with people from every corner of the globe making the journey from one side to the next.
The years of salmon fishing in the area are a distant memory due to fishing pressure at sea and river pollution. The last salmon caught here was way back in 2002.
Views from the bridge
We all love a good photo to make the folks back home jealous and the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge delivers just that.
The bridge boasts breathtaking coastal scenery with unrivaled views of Rathlin and the Scottish Islands.
There’s plenty of photo opportunities at every point of the experience – so pack a well-charged camera with lots of memory!
Crossing the bridge
For those who fancy crossing the bridge, adult admission costs just £5.90 while kids can access for £3.00. There’s also a family pass for £14.80.
Keep in mind, the bridge’s opening depends on the weather.
What you’ll need to make the most of your journey
Footwear: While the walk up to the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is certainly no Everest, you should pack some comfortable footwear with plenty of grip – especially if its been raining.
You’ll ended up walking a decent stretch if you want to explore the area fully and if you’re visiting in the colder wetter months then a warm jacket and hat are essential. It gets windy. Very windy.
Oh, and wet.
Food/Drink: While there’s a cafe mainly visited by those on their way out – you’re best off taking a rucksack with a bottle of water and something to eat with you.
Advice for parents: Keep a close eye on the little ones. While the rope bridge is completely safe and there’s been no recorded injuries, many parts of the cliff are unfenced on the other side of the bridge.
Where to find it
If you’re planning a trip, you’ll find the bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Only an hour and fifteen minutes outside of Belfast, the bridge can be coupled with the Giants Causeway which is less than 20 minutes away.