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Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope suspension bridge near, Ballintoy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny Carrick Island. The site is owned and maintained by the National Trust, spans twenty metres and is thirty metres above the rocks below. Today the bridge is mainly a tourist attraction, with 227,000 visitors in 2007. The bridge is now taken down every year in late October or early November, depending on weather conditions, having been put up in March.
Carrick-a-rede means 'rock in the road'. It is thought salmon fishermen have been erecting bridges to the island for over 350 years. It has taken many forms over the years. In the 1970s it featured only a single handrail and large gaps between the slats. A version of the bridge, tested up to ten tonnes, was built with the help of local climbers and abseilers in 2000. The previous design was engineered in 2004 and offers visitors and fishermen alike a much safer passage to the island. The current wire rope and Douglas fir bridge was made by Heyn Construction in Belfast and erected early in 2008 at a cost of over £16,000. Although no one has fallen off the bridge, there have been many instances where visitors, unable to face the walk back across the bridge, have had to be taken off the island by boat.
It is no longer used by fishermen during the salmon season, which used to last from June until September, as there are now very few salmon left. In the 1960s, almost three hundred fish were caught per day, but by 2002, only three hundred were caught over the entire season. The salmon return via the area to spawn in the River Bann and the River Bush.
The area is exceptional in natural beauty with stunning views of Rathlin Island and Scotland. The site and surrounding area is an Area of Special Scientific Interest, with unique geology, flora and fauna. Underneath large caves are visible, which once served as home for boat builders and as shelter during stormy weather.
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