Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – Visitor Guide 2024

Challenge your fear of heights

Take a walk on the wild side and visit the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Suspended almost 100 ft (30 m) above sea level this swaying bridge is certainly a challenge for those with a fear of heights. But you can always focus on the stunning scenery!

Practical info for your visit to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick a Rede rop bridge crossing
At peak times there may be a queue to cross the bridge as staff only allow a couple of people on the bridge at a time — worth waiting for., and what a view to take in while you wait
  • Opening times  Spring (from March) – 9:00am-16:30 with last entry at 16:30 plus 1.5 hours to explore before the car park closes at 6:00pm. Summer months –  9:00am–5pm with the car park closing at 6:30pm.
  • Tickets Off-peak charges are: adult – £13.50, child – £6.75, and 2-adult family – £33.75 / 1-adult family – £20:50. In peak season the prices increase to adult – £15.60, child – £7.75, and 2-adult family – £38.75 / 1-adult family – £23:25. Ticket prices include car park fees. (prices correct March 2024).
    If visiting several National Trust sites (Giant’s Causeway, Downhill Demesne & Mussenden Temple, Castle Ward) consider purchasing annual membership as it may work out to be more economical! Tickets should be bought in advance for a timed entry slot however, if you haven’t booked and you are passing by, you may be able to buy tickets at the entrance if there is availability.
  • Getting there:
    • By car: Carrick-a-Rede is located on the Causeway Coast Route between Ballycastle (10 minutes drive) and Bushmills (20 minutes drive), and close to Giant’s Causeway. Address – 119a Whitepark Road, Ballintoy, County Antrim, BT54 6LS
    • Walking: Carrick-a-Rede is on the Causeway Coast Way, so you can conceivable walk from Portrush or Ballycastle but that is a heft 25km challenge. However, if you like a good walk and want to see the major Causeway attractions, you could walk from Giant’s Causeway, passing through Dunseverick and Ballintoy ending at Carrick-a-Rede (about 15km), then catching the bus back, or vice versa.
    • Bus: Ulster Busses 171/ 402 / 402a run services between Coleraine (on the train line from Belfast) and Ballycastle, passing Portrush, Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede (5 minute walk to the car park, 20 minute walk to the bridge).  Use the Ulster Bus Journey planner for schedules.
  • Access: The bridge is a 700-meter walk along a gravel path from the carpark and there are steps.

* Peak season prices applicable from 4 March – 3 November, 2024.

What to expect when you visit Carrick-a-Rede

Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge looking down
Looking down at Carrick a Rede!

The bridge is a 20-minute walk from the car park along a gravel path running along the cliff top with great coastal views. There are steps and you may have to queue to cross the bridge as the staff (who will check your tickets) allow just a few people on the bridge at a time. On our last visit we had to wait about 10 minutes but there is plenty to look at while you do wait.

The small island is a volcanic plug with cliffs on all sides and a grassy plateau at the top where you could sit and rest a while. It’s nice to look down on the sea birds flying below and nesting in the cliffs.  There is also a small fisherman’s cottage on the island which is open on ‘selected weekends’. As the bridge is the main activity, to make the most of your visit I’d recommend bringing picnic so that you can sit a while and enjoy the view across to Rathlin Island and Scotland which is just 22 miles away.

Once you are done, there is just one way back – across the bridge. Once back over the bridge you can carry on up the steps and get a different view of the bridge from the path that loops up over the hill before joining the main path back to the car park.

Back at the car park a small kiosk sells drinks and light snacks and there are picnic tables where you can sit to eat.

Icecream kiosk and picnic tables at Carrick a Rede car park
Icecream happiness  kiosk and picnic tables at Carrick a Rede car park

The history of the bridge and island

Coastal path near Carrick a Rede
Pathway above Carrick a Rede Rope bridge and coastal views with the cliffs of Fair Head in the distance

The bridge was originally erected by fishermen over the 20m-wide gorge around 200 years ago to give them easier access to Carrick-a-Rede Island where they would run their salmon nets. For much of this time the bridge functioned with a single rope handrail and slats with large gaps between them. The current bridge, built of wire rope and Douglas fir, was raised early in 2008 and while it does bounce around a bit, you have two handrails to hold, and there is a central solid board walkway and nets to the side so you don’t need to worry about slipping through the gaps. See photos of the old bridge here.

Salmon fishing on the Causeway Coast

Although now gone, the salmon fishing industry had a long and bountiful history along the Causeway Coast. A Medieval castle was built to on the River Bann in Coleraine to ‘oversee the fishing’ and King James I & VI used the promise of salmon fishing to try to lure the Protestant London merchants to settle in Northern Ireland in the early 1600s. See Archive – Causeway Salmon. You will see small salmon fishing cottages dotted along the Causeway Coast, and often on precarious islets and promentories such as Carrick A Rede and Kinbane Head.

The salmon features in the stories of Finn McCool as Finn gained all the knowledge of the world when he accidentally ate a small morsel of The Salmon of Knowledge. You can see a sculpture of the Salmon of Knowledge, also known as the Big Fish, in Belfast. The sculpture was built to celebrate the return of salmon to the River Lagan in the 1970s!

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