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Adorable Chick

UK & IRELAND diary : Day 18 - 24th April 2017

Ballintoy is a small village which lies on the coastal side of Northern Ireland, same as that of the Giant's Causeway. The village is so small that it is said to have had a population of just 170 people in early 2000's. It is known for its picturesque Ballintoy Harbour, the Kinbane castle and the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, all of which lie at short distances from each other. These form the main places of tourist attractions around this area. The main roads strategically run closer to the wonderful coastline, making it easier to get to these attractions. The journey to get there is therefore always a feast to one's eyes. It is a quiet village with deserted surroundings, cuddled purely by nature all around. It takes less than an hour to get there from the Giant's Causeway.

The WILD ROVER Bus glided down the clean roads, covered on both sides with vast lands coloured with a rugged mixture of various browns in certain parts and yellow fields with scenic green overall. They lay low, though sloping, and, were also quite vacant. We soon got to the village and headed to the "CARRICK-A-REDE rope bridge experience". We got off the bus and took a leisurely pace around for some time, while the tour company made arrangements for our tickets and permission. The long walk upto the bridge was one of its kind. Breeze blew on our faces as we queued up & slowly yet steadily moved in line, on the jagged pathways & stoned stairs that ran up & down hilly mounds of land. The view in front of us was extremely alluring. Our cameras couldn't stop clicking. The vast bluish-green ocean never seems to disappoint, no matter where it lies. At the entrance to the " Rope Bridge walk ", there were staff explaining to the participants on the do's and don'ts. Only 8 people were allowed at a time on the bridge.

The sight of the hanging rope bridge amidst two high hillocks sent shivers down most of our spines. What you see in the picture here is the entrance "door" to the bridge. The lady in red is the staff. She was strict and ensured she wouldn't allow any extra person, even if they were close family members. As we got closer, we heard people screaming from somewhere below the entrance. It was then that a realisation dawned, about the upcoming twenty, almost vertical stairs, to get to the bridge. We were caught unawares. Until then we were only battling our goose bumps while looking at the people on the "shaky" bridge. Now it seemed worse. We then began to contemplate on whether or not we should make the brave move at all.

Tidy Desk

We witnessed many senior citizens ahead of us, who seemed to be easily getting across the bridge without seeking any help. That instilled some confidence in us. One of our group members decided to back out. He turned "photographer" for us instead. Soon came our turn. I came face to face with the "climb down". The breeze blew uncontrollably. The 30- 35 degree angle of the stairway made me dizzy. The "red" lady held my hand and said "don't worry, you ll be fine, now hold on to this ", gently putting my hand on the railings. It was a metal ladder type stairway that was hanging on to the cliff. I was one of those few who couldn't climb down easily, facing the world in front of me, like the others. The "What if I fall" thought never left my side. I decided to turn around to face the stairs instead and start my descend. I could hardly see, as the strong winds ensured that my eyes were shut. I didn't feel shy to let out a scream or two. I felt like I was dangling on to the stairs with nothing around me but air. The pictures don't seem that scary as the reality did. I couldn't even peep downward. I couldn't turn around. All I did was to feel the next step with one of my legs. I tried to keep myself steady, before letting go of my grip from the railing and grasping the next part of it below. The 20 steps felt like 20 hours. Also, the lady in red was calling out and asking me to get down as soon as possible to make way for the next person.

In matter of minutes I reached down. Then came the next challenge. At just a few steps ahead, began the rope bridge. It looked longer due to fear. Later on I learned that it was 20 Metres in length. My brain was completely blank at that time. There was no way out , I had to keep moving. I could hear the gurgling of water down below. The bridge had a wooden plank laid out as flooring , covering its entire length. That was the silver lining. Holding on to the rope as tightly as possible , I began to walk. After a few steps, it finally seemed to be a fun thing to do. A sudden jolt at the rope by one of the person behind me, threw me off my grip and the bridge began swinging slightly. I screamed out. Soon it got steady again. Almost at the centre of the bridge, I stopped for a bit and quickly ran my head from side to side to catch a glimpse of the beautiful view. There I was standing on a rope bridge connecting two hills, right above the ocean water. The wind was still strong. It was a ecstatic feeling, a feeling of achievement. I completed the entire length without much trouble after that. My companions were already there at the other end greeting me with laughter. We had the option to go around the other hill now. There were stairs leading all around that hill. We just walked a few steps around to get a good up close view of the ocean. A few pictures of ourselves against this unbelievable background was the highlight. We had around 15 minutes to ourselves on this other side. We then made our way back. The return walk on the bridge seemed easier. We were more experienced to handle it :)). The 20 stair climb up to the mouth of the entrance yet again, seemed not so tough. In the end, we came out triumphant. The tour was well worth the money. We enjoyed every bit of our time here. We walked back to our tour bus and got back on track.