It’s not that I’m afraid of heights. I’m not. But I like to have something solid under my feet when there is so much distance between them and the ground. I had vague memories of crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge on the north coast of Ireland but they were vague; so vague in fact that a second go, twenty years later, was the order of the day.
Faced with the problem of getting to Carrick-a-Rede island from the mainland, crossing a 20-m wide chasm that dropped 23 m to the sea, local fisherman came up with this rather innovative idea. And all to check their salmon nets. As I struggled to navigate the 70 or so rocky steps down to the bridge, I had visions of fit and feisty fishermen lugging their catch up home. Some days, working at a computer doesn’t seem half bad.
Back in the day, it had just one hand rail. Today, there are two. No more than eight can be on the bridge at the same time (which is comforting) yet the size of those particular eight doesn’t seem to matter (which is less than comforting). As we trekked the mile and a half or so to the bridge, I did stop occasionally to wonder whether it was worth it. But the view from the island is fantastic. You can see Rathlin Island, and on a clear day, Scotland.
The colours are gobsmackingly glorious and the remoteness of it all makes it very much worthwhile. Travel and Leisure notes it on its list of the world’s scariest bridges and I can see how some might be terrified (ahem, pH). But that fear is put on hold because it’s so beautiful.
There’s an old house down some steps that is probably a boathouse of some kind. It had me fantasising once again about living in the wilds, far from the mania that is the twenty-first century. But given that there would be a steady trail of tourists passing overhead all day every day, peace and quiet might not be as I might expect.
If you’re in the vicinity, it’s worth making the effort. And if you have kids with you (even big kids) they’ll love it.