Weekend Walk: Carrick-a-Rede and the rope bridge
Area: Antrim Coast & Glens AONB.
Distance: 2 miles linear.
Map: Sheet 5 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series available from Land & Property Services osni.gov.uk or nidirect.gov.uk/map-shop-information.
Nearest town to start: Ballycastle.
Facilities: There are toilets and a picnic area and cafe located at the car park.
Developed by: The National Trust.
Terrain: Coastal path with steps and inclines throughout.
Walk Description: How's your head for heights? This summer why not head north and make your way across Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge?
Connecting Carrick-a-Rede to the mainland, this disused salmon fishery,now draws visitors from all corners of the world to cross over the 30-metre-high rope bridge to take in the stunning coastal views out to Rathlin Island and the distant Scottish Isles.
From the car park, walk along the coastal path signed towards the rope bridge. You will soon notice the flower rich meadow grasslands on the cliff slopes. All along this path you will be treated to breathtaking views of the Mull of Kintyre across the North Channel. If you look down to the crystal clear sea below you can often spot porpoises, dolphins and basking sharks.
The noisy seabird colony of guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars, the main breeding bird species in this region, will become increasingly audible as you start the steep descent down the steps to the rope bridge.
The bridge originally consisted of a single-rope hand rail but has now been replaced by a sturdier two-hand-railed bridge – much more appealing to those who are maybe not as comfortable with heights. As you cross, get a bird's eye view of the clear, green water flowing around the caves and caverns below – if you dare to look down.
Once you've reached the other side, spend some time exploring the island's short, circular way-marked paths before heading back across the bridge to return to the car park.
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 leavenotraceireland.org.
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