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Beyond the Bridge

119a White Park Road, Ballintoy, Ballycastle, Antrim, BT54 6LS
Beyond the Bridge

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Warming your hands by a turf fire in an 18th century fisherman’s hut, you learn of the men who once earned their living here, on this deserted island beside the precarious Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Experiences don’t get more authentic, or more memorable, than this.

The adrenalin rush of crossing the rope bridge, suspended 100ft above sea level, attracts visitors from around the world. It wasn’t always like this. From the mid-1700s until the early 21st century, it was a pathway to a salmon fishing industry that sustained generations of local families.

Meeting your guide on the mainland, you walk along the cliff path and cross the spectacular bridge, waves crashing below you. You’re about to become one of the few who have stepped beyond this bridge into the fishermen's cottage, on the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede.

You follow in the footsteps of the fishermen down to a whitewashed, stone-built fishermen’s hut ("bothy"). This is unchanged since the last fishermen left here decades ago.

There’s no electricity, no running water, and no signs of modernity. It’s where they took shelter, tied nets, stored their oars and fishing rods and told stories, and you can do the same.

With the distinctive scent of peat from the fire, Mark might recite a few lines about turf-cutting from the Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

You’ll learn about the fishing industry here, tie knots and lift an old sack filled with sand to feel just how heavy it was when filled with freshly caught salmon.

Salmon, once in plentiful supply here, began to decline as a result of fishing pressure at sea and pollution. The last fish was caught here in 2002. There’s a sense of sadness at an industry now gone, but also an admiration for the men who worked here, in all weathers, to make a living.

Fully guided experience. Outdoor clothing and sensible footwear recommended.

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