Carrick-A-Rede has growing popularity among visitors

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Eighteen years after the world’s oldest English language daily, the News Letter, was founded in 1737, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge was first erected.

It was put in place by salmon fishermen in 1755.

If people from that time, the mid eighteenth century, had been propelled forward in time and suddenly able to see life almost 300 years later, in this 21st century, the technological change would be so extraordinary that they would not imagine that a basic rope bride on the north Antrim coast would still be in place, let alone a tourist attraction.

But the rope bridge is not only an attraction, it is one of Northern Ireland’s most popular destinations for visitors.

The National Trust, which owns the bridge, is almost overwhelmed with numbers of people who want to cross the bridge and until recently tourists had to wait for an hour or so at busy times to get across.

Earlier this year a timed ticket system was introduced to help manage the crowds.

The bridge has simple appeal. It is an exciting way to cross the steep ravine over to a rocky island, at 100 feet above sea level.

The surrounding countryside and coastline is wild and unspoilt and beautiful.

Now the bridge is being replaced, which the Trust does every five years for safety reasons.

Tourism in the Province is thriving as a growing number of people around the world have the money to travel widely.

Maintaining or, when appropriate, improving our main tourist attractions is an essential part of the process of keeping those visitors happy.

One of the major appeals of the coastline between Ballycastle and Portstewart is the fact that planning controls are rigid, and so it has not been over developed.

This has preserved the rugged, windswept atmosphere that tourists seem to love as they move between highlights such as Carrick-A-Rede, Whitepark Bay, Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway and Portrush golf club.