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Visiting The Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge: Parking, Tour + History

Visiting The Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge: Parking, Tour + History

A version of the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland has been in place since 1755!

Back then, it was an actual rope bridge and it was used to facilitate salmon fishing.

However, while the bridge is now made of much sturdier materials, crossing it is still a thrilling experience and it is a stand-out attraction on the Antrim Coast Drive.

The current Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge now hangs 25 feet above the chilly waters below and it’s a cosy 1 one meter wide.


Some quick need-to-knows about the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

Although is a visit here is relatively straightforward, there are some important need-to-knows about the Causeway rope bridge:

1. Location

You’ll find the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge on the Antrim Coast near Ballintoy Harbour. It’s a 10-minute drive from Ballycastle and a 20-minute drive from the Giant’s Causeway.

2. Opening hours

The Carrick-a-Rede tour is back running but please note that it doesn’t run during strong winds. It’s advised that visitors book a ticket in advance to secure a slot (and to avoid having to queue).


3. Parking

So, if you’re paying to cross the bridge, parking is included in your ticket price. If you’re not paying to cross the bridge, you’ll have to pay a hefty £10. If you’re taking the tour from Belfast (affiliate link), you don’t need to worry.

4. Prices

The Carrick-a-Rede ticket prices are fairly hefty and they change depending on the season. I’ll put the peak season prices in brackets:

  • Adult £13.50 (£15.50)
  • Child £6.75 (£7.75)
  • Family £33.75 (£38.75)

5. How long you’ll need

You’ll want to allow around 1 to 1.5 hours for your visit. Less if you visit off-peak, when it’s quiet, and more if you visit during the busy summer months.


The story behind the now-famous rope bridge in Northern Ireland

the original carrick-a-rede rope bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, circa 1890-1900 in the public domain

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.

Interestingly enough, salmon have been fished at Carrick-a-Rede and Larrybane since 1620, and that’s where our story begins.


Once upon a time

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 built.

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.

The different bridges

Over the years, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge changed (imagine what the first rope bridge here must have looked like!).

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.


The last fish (and fishermen!)

A combination of pollution and fishing pressure out at sea resulted in a decline in the salmon population around Carrick-a-Rede.

It was in 2002 that hundreds of years of fishing came to an end and the last fish was caught. Alex Colgan, a fisherman from Ballintoy, was the last to fish at Carrick-a-Rede.

Things to be aware of before you cross Carrick-a-Rede

Carrick-a-rede from different angles

Photos via Shutterstock

Although the bridge is one of the more popular places to visit in Northern Ireland, many visit very unaware of what to expect.

Here’s some handy things to keep in mind:

1. Dress appropriately

The bridge couldn’t be more exposed. You’ll need warm (and probably waterproof) clothing if you’re visiting during winter.

Even during the warm summer months it can get incredibly windy here.

2. Be prepared to wait

So, loads of people don’t just cross the now-famous rope bridge in Northern Ireland all at the one time.

There’s a queue… On both sides. If you visit when it’s busy, be prepared to wait. On both sides…


3. Getting a photo can be tricky

When I crossed the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge last, I tried to grab a quick photo (and I mean quick!) on the way.

The lad manning the island side of the bridge shouted out me to move on, so keep that in mind.

4. It’s fairly high

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.

5. The crossing is short and sweet

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. It takes around 20 – 30 seconds to cross.


Places to visit nearby

Causeway Coastal Route Drive

One of the beauties of the Northern Ireland rope bridge is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Antrim.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the bridge:


Frequently asked questions

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge free?’ to where is the famous rope bridge in Northern Ireland.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long does it take to get through the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge?

The majority of visitors spend 1 hour and 30 minutes at Carrick-a-rede. This includes getting their ticket, taking the 15 minute walk to the bridge, queuing to cross and then walking back to the car park.

Do you have to pay to cross the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge?

Yes. It’s recommended that you book your tickets in advance. Adult tickets cost £13.50 in the off-peak season and £15.50 during the peak season.

Is Carrick-a-rede worth visiting?

Yes. I have visited the bridge on several occasions and have yet to leave disappointed. If possible, try and visit during the off-season as it gets very busy once summer arrives.

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