One of Northern Ireland's most popular tourist attractions has been forced to close due to vandalism.

The world-famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge on the scenic Causeway coast was damaged last night, the National Trust said.

It is understood an attempt was made to cut down the bridge.

The vandalism was discovered during a routine safety check on the narrow wooden walkway that links the Co Antrim mainland to a small coastal island.

It hangs 30 metres above the waves below.

With the trust saying the bridge will be closed for the "foreseeable future", one of the region's top visitor stops is set to be off-limits for a significant part of the busy summer season.

The incident is being investigated by police.

Max Bryant, from the trust, said: "We were very disappointed to discover that the bridge had been damaged overnight and to have to close it as a result.

"This closure is very disappointing for visitors and the local economy, as well as for the National Trust, especially leading into what will be an extremely busy weekend.

"The National Trust would like to advise that, while the bridge remains closed, the overall site is open and visitors can still come and enjoy the wildlife, coastal walks and take in the stunning views whilst enjoying refreshments in the tearoom."