Carrick-a-rede is a famous footbridge located near Portrush on the North Coast of Northern Ireland.
The name Carrick-a-rede is from the Irish Carraig a’ Ráid meaning “rock of the casting”.
The footbridge connects a tiny rock island called Carrick-a-rede to the mainland, therefore, earning the name Carrick-a-rede footbridge.
Carrick a rede has had a bridge for over 350 years ago, initially built at the start of each fishing season with slates of wood strung up with just one guide rope.
No one lives on the island; however, there is a small bothy and workshop previously used by the local salmon fishermen who used it for shelter and to land their catch. For many years the sole function of the bridge was to transport men on and off until the salmon population dwindled to a point whereby it became unviable to make a living from fishing. Sadly 2002 was the last season (which runs from June to September) that was commercially fished, where the annual catch was just over 300, which was the average catch per day in the 1960s.
The current bridge is now owned by the National Trust and was built by Heyn Construction in 2008 at a cost of £16,000 ($21,000). Whereas the original bridges were made of rope and wood, the current bridge is built of steel wires ropes and Douglas Fir wooden slats along the path. In terms of dimensions, the new bridge is 66 ft long and is suspended 100 ft above crashing waves and rocks. The bridge can support up to 10 tonnes of weight…..more than enough to support the 8 visitors limit that the wardens allow at any one time.
If the weather is turbulent, the gates will be closed off for safety purposes, therefore, before visiting the area check on the weather. You can also check on the dedicated Twitter (@NTCarrickarede) site for the most up to date information. Most tourists tend to avoid it during the rainy and windy days, so it may the best time to go if you want it all to yourself.
From speaking to the local guides, occasionally visitors go over and they are afraid to come back across the bridge due to the wind swaying the bridge. Therefore, their only option is to be ferried back from the island to the mainland via a boat. There are the people who land on the island using helicopters, but this is a rare occurrence happening once or twice in a year.
If you want to get an alternative view of the Rope Bridge, there are sailing and kayaking tours that will take you under the bridge. When the tide is unusually low, you can even walk under the bridge.
These tours are ideal for exploring the rarely seen caves, which were made famous in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Sunset at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in County Antrim this week. Photo by Tim Johnston. pic.twitter.com/LO2t9O4Ogx
— Barra Best (@barrabest) 4 May 2017
The journey to the bridge is not ideal for people with mobility issues, not because of the bridge itself, but the path leading up to the bridge is essentially an uneven gravel path…and then there are the steps at the end.
If you can master the courage to descend down the steps and walk across the bridge, which only takes a few minutes, you will be rewarded with spectacular views. From the island, you will be able to see Rathlin island, Ireland’s only inhabited offshore Island, and even Scotland. You will also get to enjoy the flora found on the island and breathtaking views of a clear blue sea.
When you arrive in the area, there is a car park, and if you feel a bit chilly after hiking your way to and from the bridge, then there is a tea room where you can have some of the best tea in that part of Ireland.
How Much Does it Cost?
Carrick-a-rede is open all year round and is free for those who just want to walk along the coastal path see the bridge close up or, however, if you’re going to cross onto the island you’ll need to purchase a ticket.
As the bridge can get very busy at times (it had over 450000 visitors last year) the National Trust has started to operate an online timed ticketing service. Visitors are able to purchase tickets from 09.30, with the latest ticket sale at 18.15 during peak season.
Adult Ticket £9.00
Child Ticket £4.50
Family Ticket £22.50 (2 adults and up to 3 kids)
National Trust Members and Touring Pass holder are free…but still have to book.
You can book online here
Carrick-a-Rede on Film and Tv
The HBO Fantasy series based on Goerge R. R. Martins Novels, Game of Thrones, has filmed a number of their scenes on the island. Most of the scenes are in the second season.
Carrick a rede was the land referred to as Storms End located in Stormlands. The land had one of the strongest castles in the realm and was under the control of the House Baratheon. In the game of thrones, the producers made storms end the regional capital. Carrick at rede island featured in season 2 episodes below.
Episode 3: What is dead may never die – this is when Catelyn Stark arrives in Baratheon’s camp during a tournament that was won by Brienne of Tarth. Later Baratheon shows off his army of 100,000 strong men willing to fight to the death for him. You can see the Larrybane Quarry next to Carrick-a-rede and the making of that episode here
Episode 4: Garden of bones – this is when Little finger arrives at Renley Baratheon’s camp as a political envoy to try and gain his trust
- King Stannis also arrives at stormlands and heads to Renley’s Baratheon’s camp to ask Renley to relinquish his claim to the throne and serve him
- Ser Davos takes the red priestess via boat to some caves near Renleys camp where she gives birth to a shadow creature
Episode 5: The Ghost of Harrenhal – this is when Renley Baratheon is killed by the shadow creature born by the high priestess and his army divides after his death.
Carrick A Rede island is one of the best examples of a volcanic plug in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Erosion by the Irish Sea/Sea of Moyle has exposed the neck of this old volcano.
The violence of the molten rock punching its way through the soft chalk 60 million years ago can be seen through the presence of geological evidence such as Tuff, Explosion breccias, explosion bobs and grey volcanic ash in the layers of the rock of the Island and surrounding.
Along the whole North Antrim coast, that forms much of the Antrim plateau, the characteristic Ulster Chalk is topped by basalt cliffs. At Carrickarede, the ancient volcanic pipe has left dolerite, a more robust rock than basalt, which erodes more slowly. Behind the dolerite, to the south, the vent is filled with pyroclastic rocks that break down more easily, mostly a coarse tuff agglomerate. The combination of the hard rock out front and the softer rock behind, with long-term erosion by the waves, has eventually left this small island.
The island has Large caves which can be seen best during low tide. It is assumed that at some point the caves were used to serve as boat builders homes. They also provided shelter for fishing vessels during stormy weather.
The natural sea surrounding the area has blue waters that sometimes turn green making it an area of particular interest. Unique flora and fauna cover the island. It has a lot of bird colonies that play an essential role in the area’s ecology. Example, Razorbills are birds that live the island and only come back when it is time to mate and nest. The cliffs of the island are covered with birdsfoot trefoil and thrifts that give the island a paradise-like look.
How to Get To Carrick A Rede
There are several routes you can take to get to the National Trust Carrick a rede rope bridge. It’s important to note that the bridge opens at 9:30 am, and the ticket sales stop at 5:15 in the afternoon that’s 45 minutes before the closing time. In some circumstances, the closing time may be changed due to tourist traffic. In the summer the closing time is extended to 7:00 pm because it is the peak season while in the winter the closing time can be as early as 3 in the afternoon, this can be due to the severe weather conditions or lack of tourists wanting to cross the bridge.
Carrick a rede is located only 15 miles (around 20 minutes) from Portrush and 60 miles (around an hour) to the north of Belfast. For ease, most tourists are guided to the area by a tour guide at a small fee.
Bus – visitors who are not familiar with the area can head out on the bus from Dunluce Avenue and take the 402(a) or 172 also known as the causeway Rambler. A timetable for this can be found here. From Belfast, visitors can take the 218 Goldline Bus (or the train as they stop in the same place) to Coleraine and then get the 402 or 172 Bus as above.
Car – Carrick-a-rede is only a short 15 mile or 20-25 minute drive along the stunning Causeway Coastal Route (A2)from Portrush, passing the Giants Causeway, The Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle. Driving from Belfast will take around 1 hour 10 minutes depending on the traffic to cover the 60 miles. First, you will have to take the M2 route, then switch on to the A26 until Cloughmills and then switch over to the A44 (Drones road which switches onto Maghermore in Capecastle) to arrive at the park.
If you have a bit more time, then we recommend you take the Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast to Portrush. This is one of the best driving routes in the world. You can find out more about it here.
The fastest way to access Carrick-a-rede is by using one of the airports around Belfast.
Belfast International Airport (BFS) – this is an international airport approximately 20 miles away from the Belfast city centre. From the airport take the 300 Airport Express Bus to Belfast City centre, the journey takes about 40 minutes. You can also hire a taxi.
George Best Belfast City Airport (BHD) – this is situated two miles away from the Belfast city centre. It is a relatively small airport that deals with domestic flights. From the Airport take a cab to the Belfast city centre where you can choose one of the causeway rambler buses.
The best-known way to get to the bridge from Dublin is by driving yourself, it will take around 3 and a half hours from the city centre. If you don’t fancy driving or want to take the opportunity to see as much of the scenery as possible, then it is best to take one of the many tours that operate daily from Dublin.
You can find out more details about them here
Well, that’s it, our guide to Carrick-a-rede Ropebridge, we hope you find it useful in planning your trip. If you have already been let us know how it went and if there is anything that we have missed. We will continue to update this page as we get more information.