North Coast, Northern Ireland, walking

Sunshine on the North Coast

Saturday 8th April 2017 – Carrick-a-Rede to Ballintoy Harbour (5.2 miles)

What a difference a day makes (or in our case 3 weeks). After experiencing a rather damp St Patrick’s Day walk we were blessed with an amazing day of wall to wall sunshine!

Our walk started at Carrick-a-Rede and, with the good day, we knew this popular visitors attraction would be busy! However we timed it well & managed to visit this iconic rope bridge before the tour buses arrived with their hoards of tourists.

The 1km walk to the bridge is relatively straightforward, although there are a couple of sets of steep steps to negotiate, before reaching the entrance to the thrilling rope bridge. However, with amazing scenery & views to take in, you are well rewarded for your efforts.

Visitor numbers have increased dramatically since 2016 so the National Trust has recently introduced a new timed ticket system to help manage the queues crossing the bridge & this seems to be working well.

Carrick-a-Rede is Scottish Gaelic for ‘the rock in the road’ and was the route the migrating Atlantic salmon took when they were returning to spawn. For over 350 years local fishermen erected a rope bridge so that they could access the Carrick Island & the numerous salmon to dodge their nets! I wonder what they would make of the numerous people now visiting their island & crossing the bridge for fun!

The bridge sits 30 metres above the water, spans a distance of 20 metres & is constructed of wooden planks 18 inches wide! Compared to the original bridges it is a solid structure. However, despite this, it is still a thrilling walk over & back!

It is enlightening to become ‘a tourist for the day’ and view our beautiful coastline through fresh eyes. While having our lunch in the sunshine we watched the world go by (quite literally with all the different nationalities & languages we were observing!)

Part two of our walk took us past the old limestone quarry at Larrybane, on to a 2 mile section of the Causeway Coast Way & toward Ballintoy Harbour. The grassy path was less busy & within 45 minutes, after descending the narrow twisty road, we reached the quaint picturesque harbour.

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Again a once busy harbour has long seen the departure of the local fishermen, now replaced by numerous visitors to the North Coast. More recently, with the popularity of ‘Game of Thrones’, fans are flocking to the harbour to experience where scenes from the show were filmed! Whatever your reason for visiting it is a magnetic place which attracts you down in & which you struggle to pull yourself away from.

With the sun shining & ice cream to reward our hike we found ourselves relaxing and enjoying this special place before retracing our steps back to Carrick-a-Rede.

A very pleasant, leisurely walk and, although we only covered a distance of 5.2 miles, with the steps and a steep descent thrown in it felt like we’d walked about 8 miles!

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