One of the most breath-taking and precarious attractions in Northern Ireland
Carrick-a-Rede ropebridge is situated between Ballycastle and Ballintoy, connecting a small island rock to the mainland.
Originally a practical link to allow fishermen access to Carrick Island, a spot favoured by salmon, the bridge is now owned by the National Trust. In 2004, some 140,000 vistors made the 18m walk across the narrow, swinging bridge, which is suspended some 24m above the sea.
Originally constructed out of rope and planks, the bridge was rebuilt in 2002. Taken down in the winter months it is re-erected in spring each year. The process begins with a specialist abseiler lowering himself down the cliff face, walking across to the facing cliff at low tide and climbing up the far side.
Once there, he attaches lines to the bridge anchors on Carrick-a-Rede island and a pulley system is used to pull three steel ropes across the gap. Though not vastly different from its predecessor, modern materials and safety measures ensure a slightly more pleasant crossing.
Certificates are available for those brave enough to make the journey. A traditional salmon fishery is also located at Carrick-a-rede, meaning ‘rock in the road’. The channel provides fertile fishing ground as it obstructs migrating salmon, and the bridge has been used for the transportation of fish for over 200 years.
Farmers also used to carry sheep across to graze during spring and summer.
By Danny Carson