This Rope Bridge Is So Popular You Need a Ticket to Cross
Dangling some 100 feet over the rocky waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the rope bridge takes visitors across cliffs where they can access the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede. Since it’s become such a popular attraction, the bridge has introduced a new timed ticket system to alleviate traffic.
As the new changes come into effect, Travel + Leisure takes a look back at the famous attraction's history and what makes it so beloved to visitors and locals alike.
To get to the bridge, make your way to Ballintoy in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim. From here, you can walk along the rope bridge, which connects the mainland to the small island of Carrick-a-Rede.
A Journey Back in Time
Dating back hundreds of years, the rope bridge was erected by the area’s salmon fishermen back in 1755.
The bridge allowed for the fishermen to rely less on boats to reach the island, with salmon fishing continuing in the area until 2002, when river pollution led to the last fish being caught at Carrick-a-Rede.
Braving the Heights
Though salmon fishing slowly became a memory of the past, the rope bridge continues to attract visitors today thanks to its adrenaline-pumping location and scenic views.
The bridge is suspended almost 100 feet over the water and can sway in the wind, making for a daring experience.
Though the rope is safe to cross, its height and movement can cause quite the thrill. That’s why some tourists who made the journey across will often make the cross back by boat.
Back in the day, the original bridge had just a single handrail, though the National Trust added two handrails for stability.
As you make your way across, look down to see the clear waters and caverns that reside below. Meanwhile, look around you and you’ll find lovely views of the Rathlin and Scottish islands.
Surrounded by Nature
It’s not uncommon to see basking sharks, dolphins, and porpoises in the water, while the skies are often filled with seabirds that include razorbills, kittiwakes, and fulmars.
There are also three different types of orchids that can be found in the location, along with an array of wildflowers to admire.
Over the years, the bridge has become one of the top tourist attractions in the region, according to the National Trust, attracting some 250,000 visitors each year.
Last year, the bridge attracted its highest number of visitors yet, leading to new measures on how you can access the site.
The New Process
As of April of 2017, visitors need to purchase timed tickets, which will be sold on that day and are valid for that day only.
Tickets will be available from 9:30 a.m. and run for one hour, though all group visits to Carrick-a-Rede must be pre-booked as of April 7, 2017.
Tickets start at 3.50 British pounds (about $4.50) for children and 7 British pounds (about $9) for adults.
Nearby Attractions to Explore
Once you’ve completed the cross, head to the Weighbridge Tea Room, where you can reward yourself with cakes and a warm drink.
There are remnants of the area’s salmon-fishing past that include lifting gear that was used to raise boats and fishing nets that sit on the island.
Visitors are also invited to take tours of the Fisherman’s Cottage, which is the only building on the island.
Tips from the National Trust
If you’re interested in heading to the bridge, the National Trust suggests getting there early in the morning on the day you want to book the ticket for.