A Fun Way To Discover The Cliffs of The Antrim Coast
The Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland has long been a tourist magnet due to its gorgeous cliffs. A few miles west of Ballycastle, a simple but well located rope bridge has become a popular attraction and a must-see on the Causeway Coastal Route.
Carrick-a-Rede is not only about this simple bridge, there is a stunning coastal path along the wild cliffs to follow until you actually reach the bridge. This walk alone is well worth the visit!
Carrick-a-Rede is actually the name of the small island that the bridge is linking to the main land. And unlike what we may think, it has a long history and at first it was not at all made to be a touristic attraction.
By the way, what does this strange name mean? It comes from the Scottish Gaelic language, and its translation would be “The Rock In The Road”. And this name is linked to the history of this place.
The first rope bridge was erected here as early as 1755 by Atlantic salmon fishermen, in order to easily reach the Carrick-a-Rede Island without having to go for an inconvenient and dangerous boat ride. The name “Rock In The Road” illustrates the fact that this island represents and obstacle for the salmons in their migration, as they intend to enter a river mouth in order to reproduce.
These fishermen had a very hard life and a dangerous work. Over the decades, the environmental conditions have seriously declined and so have the salmons. They are not fished anymore since 2002.
However, the rope bridge remained and was opened as a tourist attraction, enabling increasingly more visitors to get a close up view of this magnificent cliff environment, and the thrill of walking over the ocean.