The Carrick a Rede rope bridge, which literally means “rock in the road” from Gaelic, is the route for Atlantic salmon on their westward journey past Carrick Island. For over 350 years, fishermen have strung a rope bridge 30 metres above the sea to allow them to access the best places to catch the migrating salmon. Sadly the salmon took a different route over 40 years ago and do not pass this way anymore. Crossed regularly by local fishermen, the bridge now presents a challenge to thousands of visitors each year who come to enjoy the same views and high thrills.
The Antrim Coastline provides stunning views even on grey days, so as we approach this site and walk along the coast, keep your eyes and ears open. The closest and smallest island is called ‘Sheeps Island’ probably looks more like a turtle than a sheep but turtles are not native to this island. The next Island of note is ‘Rathlin Island’, the large landmass directly in front of you. ‘Rath’ meaning fort and ‘Linn’ meaning pool (the fort in the pool between the 2 kingdoms of the tribe) this was the great fort of the tribe called the ‘Dal Riada’, that were said to govern between Ireland and Scotland in the Iron Age. Beyond this Island is Scotland, just 12 kilometeres away, visible on a clear day.
Upon approaching the carrick a rede rope bridge, you will see a lime kiln, the large square stone building, where the Chalk would have been burnt to create Lime, a substance used on the land (spraying lime) or to whitewash buildings. The industrial use of this site was important locally up until the 1970’s. The Fishery and Quarry provided employment for up to 1,000 people in its day. Chalk also contains pockets of flint. This flint was used by the first tool makers in Neolithic times and evidence suggests that it was used and transported through-out Ireland in ancient times.
Beyond the square shaped Lime Kiln is a small log cabin. This is where the walkway begins to lead down to the rope bridge. Thankfully the bridge has been replaced since the days of the fishermen. You will have the chance to cross the bridge today, if you dare. Please, be advised the walk to the bridge is another kilometre and is not suitable for wheelchair users as it has many steps. It takes about 25 minutes to walk each way.
Be on the lookout for the large variety of nesting birds on the little island of which the Cormorant and the Guillemot birds would be the most popular. Cormorants do not have the natural oil layer that most seabirds have. You will see them sunning their wet feathers with their wings expanded against the islands rock to dry.
Experience this beautiful walk on our Giants causeway tour