Belfast Telegraph

National Trust members hit out at four-hour waits at Carrick-a-Rede

By Linda Stewart

The National Trust has come under fire from disgruntled members, who say they face frustrating waits of up to four hours at the popular Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

The Trust, which manages some of Northern Ireland's most popular visitor attractions - such as the Giant's Causeway and Portstewart Strand - has recently introduced a new hourly ticketing system to tackle the crowds at the iconic spot.

But some National Trust members are angry at the way the system operates, saying it favours corporate visits over local members who are facing long waits.

One member said that only bus tours are allowed to book timed tickets in advance, and for everyone else it is 'pot luck' as tickets can only be bought on arrival.

"I had travelled 90 miles with my family for three hours using a combination of trains and buses, only to get a three-hour waiting time to cross the bridge once we got to Carrick-a-Rede.

"This would have meant not being able to travel back home on public transport the same day," the member said.

"As a member of the National Trust paying over £100 per year in family membership, I took the tickets, hoping the attendant at the bridge might exercise some common sense.

"There were only three other people looking to cross in front of us and about 25 people walking around on the other side. Despite explaining our situation, she wanted us to wait for two and a half hours to cross, in a truly jobsworth fashion."

The National Trust says visitor numbers at the site, which was a location in HBO hit Game of Thrones, have surged from 279,000 in 2012 to a record 425,000 last year and this has resulted in challenges with respect to visitor management in and around the attraction.

"A set number of tickets are allocated per hour to cross the bridge and this allocation is evenly split between coach groups and independent visitors. While independent visitors currently purchase tickets on arrival, it is the Trust's aspiration to offer an online booking system and options are currently being explored."

The Trust said visitor numbers to the site increase significantly during peak periods and the timed slots may book out early, so staff encourage visitors to explore the wider site and other nearby attractions.

"Updates are also posted on the Trust's social media channels to inform visitors when all tickets have been allocated," he said.

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