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!

Whitby Abbey: vampires optional…

This is the impressive ruined Benedictine abbey which sits on the hilltop above Whitby, the delightfully picturesque fishing town on the coast of the North Yorkshire moors. The abbey forms an impressively moody sight in its own right, overlooking the North Sea and the quaint fishing harbour below.

However it (and the town below) found literary fame after Bram Stoker set part of his novel ‘Dracula’ in Whitby. The fictional count preyed on Lucy on the East Cliff, just a few yards from this abbey. 120 years after Bram Stoker wrote his gothic masterpiece, Whitby has become a regular place of gathering for goths from across the country. We arrived there on one such weekend, the day after Halloween, and the site was dotted with impressively-dressed goths checking out the ruins. The spectral figures added to the sense of other-worldliness. The skies were exactly what one would hope for in a setting like this: turbulent and rolling clouds, with shafts of sunlight breaking out above the autumnal moorland. Very evocative…

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.

Golden sands at Bamburgh, Northumberland

Bamburgh was the seat of the Kings of Northumbria, and the present castle still exudes a solemn solidity and majesty as it sits overlooking the coastline.

We arrived at Bamburgh beach just as the sun was dropping over the horizon, lighting up the Farne Islands and the huge sandstone flank of the castle. It was a perfect scene: magic light, golden sands and feathery clouds on a pastel sky. I’d never have guessed it could be so still on the last day of October.

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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.

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The frozen fringes of Loch Leven…

On the Sunday we stopped off at Kinlochleven for a coffee, then followed the road along the north side of Loch Leven towards the bridge over the straits at Ballachuilish. Not far out from Kinlochleven, after passing a lot of Royal Marines on exercise, we spotted this inlet and parked up to investigate in more detail.

Loch Leven is a seawater loch, and seeing the edges fringed by ice is testament to just how cold it’s been in Scotland over the last few months. I’ve never seen frozen seawater before, and the matted seaweed poked out between thin slabs of pan ice and sparkling frost. As I stood and photographed, melting ice groaned and cracked, warming in the wan winter sunshine, while the loch reflected the mountains beyond. The scene was so still and tranquil, and the light was gloriously clear. The perfect place to spend an hour in the sun on a Sunday…

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash, or for more info in Google Earth.