The Gobbins cliff path has been on my list of places to visit for some time and we were lucky to find some early availability in the newly opened season. The Gobbins is a rugged, coastal cliff path, sitting on the same coastline as the Giant’s Causeway it resides near Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
The Gobbins visitors’ centre is approximately a forty minute drive from Belfast. The staff at the centre are exceptionally welcoming, helpful and knowledgable on the history of the area. Also, and as important, the cafe at the Gobbins centre is definitely worth a visit before or after your tour.
Following all the essential safety information and checks we embarked on a 2.5- hour fully guided tour of the dramatic coastline. The tour covers geographical, geological and historical information as well as unscripted visits from nature including grey seals and a number of porpoise.
Originally opened in 1902, the path has been radically restored while retaining much of the original pathway. Weaving its way along the basalt cliffs of the famous Causeway Coast, the path takes you across suspension bridges, through a tunnel as well as passing several caves.
The path was part of the vision of Berkeley Deane Wise, Chief Engineer of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway Company, to use the recently expanded railway line to attract visitors to this spectacular part of Ireland.
With the arrival of the steam train in the 19th century it became possible to move large amounts of people and goods in relatively short times. Not only did the railways turn cities like Belfast into industrial powerhouses, they opened up remote beauty spots to a new kind of industry – tourism. Thus the Gobbins was a popular location during the boat building 1900s with the site’s viewing gallery even being a view point for Titanic’s testing.
The Gobbins Experience
It’s not an easy walk by any means. The Gobbins Path is an arduous trek that is often narrow and uneven, accessed by a very steep pathway. Due to the nature of the rugged coastal location suitable outdoor clothing and walking/hiking boots with thick tread and ankle support are essential. The centre does have a limited supply of boots for hire but please don’t rely on them having a pair in your size.
Without exception, all guests must wear a safety helmet whilst experiencing The Gobbins. Footwear etc are checked prior to leaving the centre and helmets are provided as part of the package. To enjoy The Gobbins a good level of fitness is needed. You must be fit enough to climb 50 flights of stairs and walk a very steep 1 in 5 gradient. On a plus, cameras are allowed if they can fit into pockets or are securely safely around your neck.
Northern Ireland has some of the most stunning scenery and landscapes. I highly recommend adding the Gobbins on your list of ‘must places to see’. We already want to return this summer as different seasons offer differing experiences in terms of wildlife and natural environment. The tour is definitely excellent value for money, the guides are exception with visitor safety and satisfaction their key priorities. Book early.