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Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge reopens after vandals tried to cut through ropes

The National Trust yesterday said the Carrick-a-Reed Rope bridge would be closed "for the forseeable future". Picture by PA

The National Trust has reopened Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge following vandalism.

The National Trust yesterday said the bridge would be shut "for the foreseeable future" after vandals had attempted to cut through one its ropes. 

The vandalism was discovered during a routine safety check on the narrow wooden walkway that links the Co Antrim mainland to a small coastal island. It hangs 30 metres above the crashing waves below.

"At some stage last night  [Tuesday], someone cut one of the ropes on the bridge," National Trust's Frank Devlin told the BBC.

"It's not cut the whole way through, but it's cut significantly that we have had to close the bridge today and we can't allow anyone to cross.

He added: "We're hoping to open it tomorrow [Thursday] as long as we don't encounter any further problems."

Hundreds of people were turned away from the visitor attraction, near Ballintoy, yesterday as safety inspections were carried out at the bridge. Police are also investigating the damage.

"During a routine safety check of the bridge before opening it was identified that the bridge was damaged overnight by an act of vandalism. This is now under investigation by the police," a spokeswoman said.

"The National Trust is engaging with structural engineers to assess the damage caused, however, as the safety of visitors and staff is of paramount importance, the bridge will remain closed for the foreseeable future until all necessary repairs and structural assessments have been carried out.

Max Bryant, general manager for the National Trust on the north coast, said: "We were very disappointed to discover that the bridge had been damaged overnight and to have to close it as a result.

"This closure is very disappointing for visitors and the local economy, as well as for the National Trust, especially leading into what will be an extremely busy weekend.

"The National Trust would like to advise that while the bridge remains closed, the overall site is open and visitors can still come and enjoy the wildlife, coastal walks and take in the stunning views whilst enjoying refreshments in the tearoom."

Visitors to the tourist attraction now receive an allocated time slot for when they are allowed to cross in a bid to preserve the area and to manage crowds.

The bridge itself is 18 inches wide and can only accommodate eight people at one time. It is Northern Ireland's sixth most popular tourist attraction and was visited by 354,000 people in 2015.

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