Mind the gap

IMG_0362Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is a tenuous tether crafted by fishermen 350 years ago to bridge the gap between Northern Ireland’s mainland cliffs and an island just offshore the namesake town, which happened to be the best place to fish for migrating salmon.

I timed my visit here far better than that to the Giant’s Causeway; no tour buses in the parking lot, no crowds. Even better, no souvenir shops. Parking is free, but it costs a few pounds to walk the walk and cross the bridge, if you wanna talk the talk later.

It’s about  1 k  out a well-kept cliff-hugging path to two sets of worn, uneven rock steps that descend to the bridge. Earlier in the morning, another guest at our B&B labeled the walk “arduous.” I didn’t find it so. I enjoyed the walk and the views over an almost Caribbean-blue sea.

A monitor punches tickets at the bridge. Crowds back up here because only eight people are allowed on the wobbly rope-and-plank bridge at a time. Most folks stop traffic for photos, and there’s no passing lane. So expect it to take a while to cross over it and then, after exploring the island, to return.

If you simply want to see the bridge and snap a few shots, you can do so from the Portaneevey pullout and viewpoint a few kilometers east of the actual bridge (binoculars will help). Actually, if you’ve got a decent lens, that’s a great spot for photos. Note: If you’re fearful of heights, enjoy this from the distance.

The bridge location, a National Heritage Trust site, is also home to a tearoom serving light lunches, sweets, soup, and other goodies (we shared a scone and a bowl of soup, both quite good). From here you can also see an old lime kiln and across the water to Larrybane, site of an AD800 Iron Age fort.

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