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, old ropes, and nets still visible.
Now a major tourist attraction offering an exhilarating coastal 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.
Distance 0.7 miles
OS Map Sheet 5
Terrain Gravel paths, stone steps
Nearest Town Ballintoy
Route Shape Linear
Grid Reference D051448
Route Type Coastal, Hill
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 and 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 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 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. It is essential to book in advance to ensure you have an allocated slot. Check on the National Trust website for details on how to book. *
Rope bridge, coastal views, porpoise and dolphin spotting
Carrick-a-Rede is on the Causeway Coastal Route and is located 5 miles west of Ballycastle (B15).
Translink – journeyplanner.translink.co.uk
Opening times early season 10.00 am to 5.15 pm (with summer opening hours 10.00 am to 6.15pm).Car park, Toilets, Picnic area, Interpretation, Tea room & Viewing platform all available. National Trust staff on duty March-October. For all enquiries please contact the National Trust Office – tel: 028 2076 9839. The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility: – Café (wheelchair accessible) – Shop (wheelchair accessible) – Disabled toilets – Wheelchair available.
- The path may not be hard and firm in all weathers with loose stones (not bigger than 10cm) with occasional tree roots and pot holes and will be at least 80cm wide for its entire length.
- The path gradients and cross slopes will be greater than 6°.
- Obstacles such as steps or stiles are to be expected and surface breaks may be larger 75mm in width.
- There will be a clear head height of greater than 2.10m for the entire length of the route.
- Passing places and rest areas may not be formalised or provided.