The growth in the number of people visiting the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Co Antrim has prompted a new ticket system to avoid lengthy queues at the dramatic fisherman’s walkway.
Rather than queueing up, visitors will instead purchase a ticket with a time slot.
For example, a visitor who turns up and purchases a ticket at 11am on a busy day might be a given an 11.30am time slot. Rather than spending the intervening 30 minutes in a queue, they can instead go for a walk or relax before returning.
In theory this means a visitor might have to turn up, purchase a ticket and be forced to return hours later. However, a National Trust spokesperson told the News Letter yesterday this is an unlikely scenario even at peak times, and preferable to spending that time in a queue.
Frank Devlin from the National Trust explained the move: “As a conservation charity we are committed to preserving and protecting our special places and spaces for everyone to enjoy.
“With tremendous visitor growth to the site over recent years we were keen to identify solutions that will enhance the visitor experience; ensure that we are keeping everyone safe whilst also addressing the important conservation requirements.
“The introduction of timed tickets will enable us to manage the increasing volume of visitors to the Carrick-a-Rede island. All visitors will be required to present their tickets at their allocated time period, before crossing the bridge.
“The bridge itself is 18 inches wide and can only accommodate eight people at one time, however we are confident the new system, which will be reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout the season, will benefit those visiting the site.”
The National Trust are encouraging visitors to “make the most of their visit by exploring the natural beauty of this unique place when it opens in the morning or late in the afternoon. As an Area of Special Scientific Interest and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the iconic conservation site must be preserved to ensure that the habitat and wildlife are being looked after while being enjoyed by all”.
The tickets can’t be bought in advance or online and must be both purchased and used on the same day.
The new system will begin from Friday, April 7.