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Ready to take a walk on the wild side?

For the first time ever, the owners of the famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in the North have decided to scoff at the wind and rain of a typical Irish winter and keep the daredevil tourist attraction open all year round.

It’s all in the numbers. Each year more than 231,000 visitors with a good head for heights have crossed the 90 foot deep chasm on Northern Ireland's north coast, and now that number is only set to increase.

There are other compelling reasons to keep the iconic rope bridge open too. Each year The National Trust faces the daunting task of packing away the rope bridge during the colder months but this year the Trust's general manager Max Bryant says visitors want all-year access to this top local attraction.

Said Bryant: “Obviously, with tourism becoming more to Northern Ireland and the north coast we're having more and more people who, when they come at any time of year, want to be able to go to the iconic sites, such as the Causeway, and the rope bridge is very much up there with that.”

The rope bridge is suspended between two high cliffs at Ballintoy and Rocky Island in County Antrim. But who would want to trust their lives to its rickety span in high winds and cold winter weather? “Given the summers we’ve been having recently there probably wouldn't be too much difference,” Bryant said.

Responding to questions about health and safety, and whether this is really a good idea after all, Bryant said: “Certainly we take health and safety very seriously and the bridge is only crossable when the wind is under a certain speed. So actually, in terms of what the crossing will be like, it will be very similar to how it would be in the summer.”

“We’re seeing a huge demand for access to places over the Christmas period and we think that the rope bridge will be ideal for friends and family coming to visit us at that time of year.”

The Trust hopes to run a profit or simply just break even with their unexpected move by serving hot soups and Irish stews to freezing cold tourists at the site.

A maximum of eight people are allowed to cross at any one time. Figures from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board showed that Carrick-a-Rede was the sixth most popular local attraction in Northern Ireland in 2008 with 241,291 visitors, up 8 percent on the previous year.

 

The famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland