First opened to the public in 1902, The Gobbins was created by Irish railway engineer Berkeley Deane Wise. At the time, the cliff path drew international admiration, but the costly upkeep and the onset of World War II meant the attraction fell into disrepair and eventually closed.
With Wise’s experience engineering tunnels and bridges, as well as his interest in tourism, it seemed only natural that he would undertake an engineering feat of this magnitude. His vision was also behind the stunning nearby coastal walk from Whitehead to Blackhead lighthouse.
Attempts to reopen The Gobbins over the years were met with either engineering difficulties or treacherous weather. Work finally began in 2011 to restore the path and once again open it to the public. Funded by Larne’s borough council, the local government, and EU grants, it took over six years of construction and renovations to ensure the path was safe. It was then re-established as a tourist attraction.
The multi-million-pound restoration included a series of 15 new bridges and six gallery structures that traverse the steep coastal cliffs along the original route. The original Victorian tubular suspension bridge was replaced and given a fitting modern update.
The path is not for the faint-hearted. Although the walk itself is not strenuous, the heights, slippery rocks, and weather can be daunting but well worth the adrenaline rush. Look out for the Dragon’s head, witches cave, and natural aquarium along the route.
The attraction is unbelievably overlooked as one of Northern Ireland’s top tourist attractions, but gains more visitors by the year. Wise had initially planned to extend the path several miles north to Heddles’ Port. Although his vision was never fully realized, hopefully one day visitors will be able to walk the full path as Wise intended.
Know Before You Go
The visitor center is located nearby Ballystrudder. The facilities include a café, exhibition space, and car park. The path can be affected by bad weather, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly. Tickets and group bookings are available online.