Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

20 Dec

During our FIE travels, we also went to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge during our weekend in Northern Ireland.  The bridge is located near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.  This bridge is located in the most beautiful setting; it connects the main land on the coast to a large rocky formation.  This rocky formation is the small island of Carrickarede, from the Irish: Carraig a Raid, which means “rock of casting.”  The bridge itself covers the sixty-eight feet between the coast and the island, and is ninety-eight feet about the water crashing into the rocks below.  It is truly a beautiful sight that looks like it could be straight from a page of a magazine.  The area is exceptional in natural beauty, and also boasts beautiful views of Rathlin Island and Scotland.  The bridge is mainly a tourist attraction (in 2009, the bridge had 247,000 visitors), and it is owned, like Giant’s Causeway, by the National Trust.

This bridge also has a rich history.  It is believed that salmon fisherman have been building different bridges to the Carrickarede island for over 350 years.  In the 1970s, the bridge was much less safe and had fewer safety precautions than it does, today.  At that time, there were large gaps between each slat of the bridge, and there was only one handrail on one side of the bridge.  This, obviously, was a safety hazard.  So, in 2000, a new bridge was built.  This bridge tested up to ten tons. It was built with the help of local hikers, climbers, and rappelers.  Another, even more safe bridge, was then built in 2004.  In 2008, the bridge that we crossed on our trip to Carrick-a-Rede was built.  This bridge was constructed out of wire rope and Douglas fir wood by a construction company in Belfast for the cost of 16,000 pounds (sorry I don’t have the pound symbol on my computer).  Though this bridge is incredibly safe, it still can be very frightening for some visitors.  There have even been instances where visitors have had to be taken off of Carrickarede island by a boat after being unable to walk back across the bridge due to their own fear.  This bridge is no longer used by fisherman during salmon season like it used to be, because there are very few salmon left in the water.  During the 1960s, almost 300 salmon were caught each day.  In 2002, only 300 salmon were caught in an entire season.      

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