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Crossing Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge on the ‘Causeway Coast’, Co. Antrim

A panorama taken from the middle of the famous rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, on County Antrim’s gloriously unspoiled north coast.

The rope bridge here is one of a series of well-loved tourist attractions along the “Causeway Coast”, situated as it is just a few miles east of the world famous Giant’s Causeway. Combining stunning views with a certain frisson of excitement and risk, it’s highly popular. Many thousands of visitors to the National Trust-managed site traverse the rope bridge every year, high above the crashing waves and swirling currents which separate the rocky islet from the cliffs of the coast.

A rope bridge has been present on the site for hundreds of years: it was originally set in place to allow seasonal access for salmon fishermen. The island, a small volcanic plug, sits next to a fishing ground which was a major source of employment. You can still see the small, recently-restored fisherman’s cottage on the island.

Growing up in Northern Ireland, this was one of the key destinations to bring visitors I first crossed the bridge in 1990 as a gangly, fearless teenager, when it felt considerably less solid than it does now. At that time it was a seasonal attraction: however this iteration of the bridge, installed in 2008, is open all year round (weather permitting, of course).

I hadn’t intended to shoot a pano of the bridge until we pulled up at the nearby carpark; however with such wonderful weather and smaller crowds – as we were visiting midweek and out of high season – meant I brought my pole & pano head along after all. I don’t have a great head for heights so I waited my turn to cross, quickly stopping in the middle and shooting the photos needed for this while looking resolutely straight ahead and trying not to get distracted. I only got to admire the view of the chasm below once I was safely back on terra firma, stitching this together from the comfort of my home!

Since capturing this view I’ve found various panoramas shot around the bridge, including on 360 Cities, but think this may be the first shot on (or indeed a couple of metres above) the bridge itself. Hope you enjoy the view!

Inside the serpent: Alnwick Gardens

This is one of the water sculptures at the wonderful Alnwick Garden in Northumbria. I always enjoy capturing circular spaces in 360° shots, seeing elements distorted out of all recognition, so this item caught my eye…

The Alnwick Garden is a new addition to Alnwick… you can read more about it on their website… and is an ambitious and quite wonderful modern garden. I got there on one of the last days of the season, when the sun was low in a pastel sky, and the leaves were turning every shade of autumn.

The Serpent Garden was designed by Peter Wirtz, with a series of water features/scupltures by William Pye. When we visited it was mobbed by children, mostly attired in all-in-one outfits… obviously the parents had been here before and came prepared. This particular sculpture, with its curtains of cascading water, was situated a little away from the main attraction, and stood quietly surrounded by hedges, catching the light in its liquid sheets.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival

This is the ceremonial procession of the annual Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival, which I shot earlier today. The day was blessed by largely good weather, and the dancers, musicians, mummers and other handsomely-attired people made for an extraordinary spectacle.

“Rushbearing dates back several centuries to the time when rushes provided floor covering in the churches. Each year, the old, rotten rushes were thrown out and new ones were taken to the churches in carts. This gradually turned into a celebration and holiday involving revelry, music and morris dancing.

The modern Festival is the only one of its kind in Yorkshire. The focal point of the event is the sixteen feet high, two-wheeled, handsomely decorated and thatched Rushcart, which is pulled by sixty local men dressed in Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs. They are accompanied by music and five or six teams of morris dancers.

A team of young ladies take turns to ride on top of the cart. A very precarious position indeed. The colourful procession is an unforgettable spectacle as it winds its way through local villages over the course of the weekend.” (excerpts from www.rushbearing.co.uk)

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.