Famous for its rope bridge, (unique in Ireland) – which connects the mainland to Carrick-a-Rede Island. The island until recently was an active salmon fishery, with an old fisherman’s bothy and old ropes, nets still to be seen. Now a major tourist attraction offering an exhilarating coast path and rope bridge experience from the cliffs to the rocky island, with stunning views of Rathlin and the Scottish Isles, as well as a noisy seabird colony.
On route to the island, the grassy slopes and rocky outcrops are awash with colour in late spring/summer (the site is an Area of Special Scientific Interest), on the basis of its flora and unique geology – being at the centre of an ancient volcano.
Point of interest:Rope bridge, coastal views, porpoise and dolphin spotting
OS map:Sheet 5
Terrain:Gravel paths, stone steps
Route: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. Along the coastal path to the bridge, you will notice flower rich meadow grasslands on the cliff slopes and occasional grazing cattle. All along the coastal path, the views of Rathlin Island and the Scottish Isles are breathtaking – the Mull of Kintyre is the closest part of Scotland & most visible, just beyond Rathlin. And immediately below the path, in crystal clear sea water – there is often a good chance of spotting porpoises or dolphins (even a basking shark in summer is a possibility).
As you start the steep descent to the island & rope bridge, the noisy seabird colony will become more and more audible by the step. Guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes & fulmars are the main breeding bird species (bird guidebooks & 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. On occasion if wind speed records exceed 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 safely, 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.
* Please note that National Trust entrance pricing applies for this walk. Please see the link below for details *
Facilities:The bridge & facilities will be open from the 1st March to the 2nd Nov 2008 (for all enquiries please contact the National Trust Office - 028 2073 1582). Opening times early season 10am to 5-15pm (with summer opening hours 10am to 6-15pm).
Car park, Toilets, Picnic area, Interpretation, Tea room & Viewing platform (National Trust staff on duty March-Oct).
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Accessible terrain:1 km walkway to rope bridge surfaced gravel path, with steep steps on approach to bridge. 0.5 km of pathway accessible for wheelchair users, with viewing platform for visitors with disability.
Publication:National Trust Walks information
Publication availability:Carrick-a-Rede Guide Book (£4-00)
Getting to the start by public transport:Carrick-a-Rede is on the Causeway Coastal Route and is located 5 miles west of Ballycastle (B15). By bus, the Causeway Rambler (Ulsterbus No 402) Bushmills to Carrick-a-Rede runs in the summer; or Ulsterbus No 252 is a circular route via the Antrim Glens from Belfast. Both stop at Carrick-a-Rede.