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Northern Ireland::North Antrim Coast — Day 16

Sunshine in Ireland

Sunshine in Ireland

As promised, the sun was shining this morning. Sarah, the host of Drumcovitt House, thought it would be a good day to visit the Antrim Coast. Our plans were to visit the Giant’s Causeway, then walk over the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and then drive down and visit the Glens of Antrim. Unfortunately we got a late start and the walk to and wait at the bridge was longer than we expected, so we didn’t get to the Glens of Antrim. It’s a pity because it looks like they are lovely.

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle

We drove north to Portstewart and drove along the coast, stopping for a few minutes at Dunluce Castle. We also stopped in Bushmills for some reason — perhaps to buy drinks for lunch (and no, we skipped the whiskey) — then carried on to the Giant’s Causeway.

Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway was formed when the Giant, Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill) built it to fight the Scottish giant Benandonner. When he saw the size of Benandonner he ran back to Ireland and jumped into a pram. Benandonner chased Finn into Ireland and when he saw Finn in a carriage he thought, “If that’s the baby, I don’t want to meet the dad.” Benandonner then ran back to Scotland and broke up the bridge.

Some people, however, say the causeway was formed by a volcano.

A column of columns

A column of columns

It is unique in that it is made up of tens of thousands of mostly six-sided basalt columns that form stepping-stones that eventually fade into the sea. This is one place I never thought I’d go in my lifetime, so it was pretty special that I was finally there. On our visit to Scotland a few years ago I especially wanted to visit Fingal’s Cave becasue I figured it was the closest I’d get to anything like the Giant’s Causeway.

It looks like the setting of a movie that takes place on Mars — that’s how alien the landscape is.

Scotland

Scotland

After walking around the causeway, marveling at the sight, snapping photos of the columns and even seeing Scotland in the distance, we were hungry for lunch. One of our guides to Ireland mentioned a picnic area atop a sea cliff just down the road, so we drove there and ate a picnic lunch of our usual bread, cheese, fruit and soft drinks.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

After that we drove back a bit to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge.

Over 300 years ago fishermen strung a rope bridge between the mainland and a tiny island about 65 feet off shore. They would use this bridge to get to the island which was where the salmon came round the coast. The fishermen don’t use this anymore, according to Wikipedia, but lots of tourists do. I’d first heard about this when Andrew’s rugby team went to Ireland — they were scheduled to cross the bridge. I thought he’d like to do it this trip, but I was not planning on going with him. I knew Clare’d get a kick out of it too, and suspected Dean would want to go.

On the bridge

On the bridge

When we got to the bridge, after a small hike through beautiful landscape, I decided, why not? The bridge was not as long as I thought, and I’d heard there were some interesting birds on the island. We stood in line for a bit, then we each went across — the sign said no more than 8 people on the bridge at a time. I would have liked to cross alone because other people made the bridge bounce.

on the bridge

on the bridge

It was pretty darn scary. Really. I never looked down — the kids said they did. I just looked straight ahead while the wind buffeted the bridge and the folks on the other side watched us walk towards them.

When I got to the other side my first thought I had was, “Joy! I made it!” my second thought was “Crap! I have to do that again to get back!”

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of someone crossing the bridge. They weren’t afraid to look down.

Sat on the grass

Sat on the grass

We walked around the island – it was very beautiful and we saw a few birds — razorbills, shags, gulls, guillemots, and other sea birds I couldn’t identify. Clare and I lay down on some soft tufts of grass for a while. I tried to not think of the journey back.

Finally we decided to get in line to go back. The wait was not so bad because I watched a shag or cormorant dive in the sea below us.

The walk back -- into the wind

The walk back -- into the wind

When it was our turn to go, we noticed that the wind had picked up and the people ahead of us were being blown more than before. The trip back was worse than the trip to the island and sea spray reached us from below. Clare and Andrew thought I was funny, being scared and all — but Dean said he was too. It was definately the scariest thing we’d done on the trip — even worse than the boat ride to Skellig Michael or Dean’s driving the first day.

We opted to head back to Roe Loft and explore the grounds instead of going onto the Glens of Antrim.

Dean and I went to a pub in Feeny before picking up some carryout for dinner while Andrew and Clare explored Drumcovitt House grounds again.

Fairy Glen Trail video on Vimeo

More Day 16 photos on Flickr.