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Pocket Guide: Ballycastle Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge Hotels

Antrim is a small town which sits just 18 miles to the west of the Northern Irish capital of Belfast. The simple fact of the proximity of Belfast, with strong road and rail links meaning it is only a short journey away, is enough to draw many thousands of visitors to Antrim year in year out, but it would be a shame to think that this is all Antrim has to offer.

The town of Antrim itself is rich in history and nature, having been settled as long as 1,500 years ago and still bears the architectural hallmarks of its development over the years, such as narrow, winding 18th century streets, a ruined castle and a central square which has held weekly markets since 1665.

Around Antrim

Not only is Antrim itself a town worth exploring, but it also boasts a location ideally suited to exploring some of the finest scenery in Ireland. The largest lake in the UK, Lough Neagh, sits immediately next door to the town, where the local Six Mile Water River joins the larger body of water. Drive in any direction into the countryside and you’ll find forests, mountains and unspoiled villages, and it is this combination of history, nature and access to Belfast which helps to make Antrim so popular.

Accommodation in Antrim

The range of reasons why people might choose to visit Antrim is reflected in the variety of accommodation on offer in the town. Students keen to sample the bright lights of Belfast will probably need nothing more than a room in a basic bed and breakfast, while holidaymakers might want one of the larger family-friendly hotels. Whether you’re seeking a guesthouse, a country inn or a lakeside lodge and spa, you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for. Stay in accommodation on the outskirts of the town, close to the road link of the A26, and you’ll be ideally placed to set off and explore attractions further away, such as the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

Reaching the Rope Bridge

The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is located on the north Antrim coast, close to the village of Ballintoy. It can be reached from Antrim by taking the A26 and M2 north before turning off on the A44 to Ballycastle. On the outskirts of Ballycastle, take the Whitepark Road left for five miles until reaching the turn off for the rope bridge itself, where parking is free.

The rope bridge

The rope bridge is owned by the National Trust and takes the form of a 65 ft bridge which stretches from the mainland to Rocky Island, at a height of 100 feet over the wild waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The bridge was originally built 350 years ago by salmon fishermen but is now mainly used by bird watchers and tourists keen to see if they dare take the swaying, rickety crossing. There is a small charge for crossing the bridge, and facilities at the site include a gift shop selling souvenirs and a tea room offering traditional homemade snacks and drinks.