Walks: Bridge the gap, bask in scenery at Carrick-A-Rede

Crossing is an exhilirating experience.

Crossing is an exhilirating experience.

Our weekly ramble with Walks NI this week takes us to one of Northern ireland’s most famous beauty spots.

It’s a short walk by any measure, but where else but at Carrick-A-Rede could you cross a rope bridge from the dramatic Antrim coast to a deserted islet, with breathtaking views to Rathlin and Scotland?

The rope bridge – unique in Ireland – connects the mainland to Carrick-a-Rede island, which until recently was an active salmon fishery, with an old fisherman’s bothy and old ropes, nets still to be seen.

This major tourist attraction offers an exhilarating coast path and rope bridge experience from the cliffs to the rocky island.

Birdwatchers and photographers won’t want to leave, and nor will anyone else if they look down to the crystal clear sea, where there is often a good chance of spotting porpoises or dolphins. Even a basking shark in summer is a possibility.

On route to the island, the grassy slopes and rocky outcrops are awash with colour in late spring/summer.

From the car park, the route to the rope bridge passes by an information hut, where a small pedestrian charge is levied. Keep good care of your ticket, as you will need this as proof to cross the rope bridge.

All along the path, the views of Rathlin Island and the Scottish Isles are stunning. The Mull of Kintyre is the closest part of Scotland and most visible, just beyond Rathlin.

As you start the steep descent to the island and rope bridge, the noisy seabird colony will become more and more audible by the step. Guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars are the main breeding bird species. Bird guidebooks and binoculars are available for hire. You will know you are nearing the bridge, as there is usually a line of patient tourists waiting to cross, some nervously. Occasionally, if wind speed exceeds the recommended safety limits, the bridge has to be closed, and with a 30-metre chasm to cross, the site wardens have the final say!

Having negotiated the rope bridge, the island can be explored via marked paths (visitors are reminded to observe the signs and take responsibility for their own actions). On fully exploring the island, those nervous visitors have to once again build up their confidence for the return leg. Again, waiting times are usually in place to cross back over.

The return to the car park is by way of the same route, or a short circular detour which links back to the main path.

Visit WalkNI.com for more information on this walk and over 270 other quality walks across Northern Ireland including route descriptions, maps, transport and facility information.

RESPONSIBLE WALKING:

Please remember to practice the principles of ’Leave No Trace’ when enjoying the outdoors in order to minimise your impact on the environment.

For more information, visit www.leavenotraceireland.org

IMPORTANT: Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information. However, neither WalkNI.com nor Johnston Press NI can accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Where such are brought to our attention, information for future publications will be amended accordingly.