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!

Setting sun over the Giant’s Causeway

Having grown up in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway was the place you’d always take visitors. Internationally recognised, visually impressive, geologically distinctive, culturally neutral: even at the height of the Troubles when other places may’ve been off-limits , the Causeway was the tourist destination. Rightly so: it’s a wonderous and crazy-looking place, with hexagonal columns formed by basalt cooling rapidly. No wonder in the days before we had an understanding of vulcanology the locals believed it was built by the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill: a much more romantic explanation.

Trouble is, it’s (justifiably) extremely popular, and so viewing it without hordes of sightseeing visitors is nigh on impossible, except in publicity photographs. Apart from on a Friday night when there’s a World Cup match on, so most people are either glued to the telly or going out for the night. Result…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the bay around the main causeway look as magical. The sea was calm, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the sun slowly dropped towards the horizon, painting the vista with increasing saturated colours. With so few people around we felt like we had the place to ourselves, for which I was incredibly appreciative. Such emptiness made it easier to understand the scale and beauty of the natural features. Truly magical.

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.

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.

Early evening at Ballintoy Harbour

A perfect summer’s evening. While much of the country was listening to the England vs Algeria football match, we had most of the north Antrim coast to ourselves. I’d rather enjoy this view over a game of football any day…

Ballintoy‘s long been a family favourite: a wonderfully diminutive harbour, nestled between fantastical rock formations. I’ve always loved the eccentric detail of Bendhu house, the solid understated character of the parish church, and the limestone cliffs and workings.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, or see the location in Google Earth.

The Dark Hedges: along the Bregagh Road in County Antrim

The Dark Hedges, Bregagh Road, Armoy, Co. Antrim

These spectacular views are of the Bregagh Road, between Stranocum and Armoy in County Antrim. The ‘Dark Hedges‘, as it’s affectionately known around those parts, is a long avenue of beech trees running down the gentle undulations of this minor road. My mum had heard about this place – popular with couples getting photographed on their wedding day – from a friend who spoke vividly about seeing it in the moonlight as a child. Neither of us had been here before, and after driving about the area for a while we eventually found it with some help from Google Maps on my mobile.

The long lines of trees are incredibly striking, at this time of the year the leafy boughs arch across the road almost as far as the eye can see, creating a the impression of a vaulted canopy. The trees have become much more well-known in the last few years, their fame spreading as a result of their obvious attraction to photographers. Although it’s a fairly quiet road I had to abort several attempts at these panoramas due to cars driving slowly along the arched avenue… other folk were out enjoying the view too.

Since shooting here in 2010, the location has become even better known internationally, as it’s been featured in the hit TV show ‘Game of Thrones‘.

Look around the image above to explore the Dark Hedges in a panoramic 360° view.

Forgotten places: the empty workshop

Inside an old-fashioned outhouse workshop on a vacant farmstead in County Antrim, near the village of Cullybackey. The abandoned farm lies a short distance from the picturesque Arthur Cottage, the ancestral home of the 21st President of the USA, Chester Alan Arthur.

This is deep in prime agricultural country; the fields around are filled with new barley and potatoes. However farming life isn’t always easy, and while the fields look verdant and well stocked, derelict farms and cottages pay silent testimony to a time when more folk worked the land around here. Who knows what lives once lit up the walls of this building, and whose voices rang out across the farm?

The whole site seemed remarkably peaceful and undisturbed when I visited and captured this scene. I wanted to encapsulate this feeling of restful timelessness within the panorama, to let the space tell its own story with a thousand tiny details, so I took my time and shot multiple exposures to combine later. I think the results were worth it.

This was my contribution to the most recent Worldwide Panorama event, entitled ‘Forgotten Places’. The version on that site was enfused: I revisited the scene after submittingf that, and this version is based on a 9 exposure HDR set, then tonemapped.

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