Assateague is a skinny island just south of Ocean City in Maryland. Where Ocean City was all tourist attractions and (probably) trucked-in sand, the beaches along Assateague are natural and wild. The northern part of Assateague Island is in Maryland and hosts both Assateague State Park and Assateague Island National Seashore. The southern end of the island is in Virginia and hosts the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
Assateague is perhaps best known for the wild ponies that roam it. I’ll share some pony photos soon, but for now, just enjoy the beach.
It’s a wobbly, undulating bridge of rope and wire binding planks of Douglas fir, 100 feet in the air, connecting the Northern Ireland mainland to the island of Carrick-a-Rede. Similar bridges have crossed this span for more than three centuries.
Margaret and I found the bridge to be sturdy and its swaying to be gentle. We had no troubles crossing it. Yet every year several people are spooked enough by it that they can’t cross back over and must be removed from the island by boat.
The bridge and island haven’t always been a tourist attraction. Rather, fishermen originally set salmon nets off the island and used earlier iterations of the rope bridge to reach their catch. The current bridge dates to 2008. Salmon stopped swimming through here a long time ago, and so the National Trust took over the site and made it a tourist attraction. We were glad they did: the views are stunning!
This was the first place we visited on our trip. Little did we know it would set a precedent: we would see lots of cliffs and ocean as we followed the Irish coast in the coming days.
Our day began with typical early-September Irish weather: overcast and spitting rain. But shortly the clouds parted.
It’s a maxim of photography that changing light changes the subject. But we were consistently startled by how much of an effect the changing light had in Ireland over anywhere in Indiana, where we’re from.
Just check out these two photographs, made maybe 15 minutes apart, of the same subject before and after the clouds parted.
The sunshine made colors pop everywhere we turned.
We stayed on the island longer than we intended simply because we wanted to re-photograph in the light everything we had just photographed under dense clouds.
Carrick-a-Rede is considered one of the best places in Ireland for stargazing, so it’s too bad we couldn’t come back and experience that kind of light.
But onward we went from here, to Giant’s Causeway, to see more cliffs and more ocean. We never tired of either.