Gobbins Cliff Path to reopen at end of June

The Gobbins. Pic by Stephen Hamilton/PressEye
The Gobbins. Pic by Stephen Hamilton/PressEye
  • Council spends around £500,000 on maintenance to date
  • Gobbins will operate seasonal opening in future
  • Small section at end of path will be unable to reopen in June

The Gobbins Cliff path is to reopen at the end of June after Mid and East Antrim Borough council spent around £500,000 on maintenance to date.

The council originally opened the £7.5 million Gobbins in August 2015, but closed it after five months when a landslip caused by heavy rainfall caused damage to parts of the access path.

The path reopened over the 2016 May Day weekend, but closed again on June 20 for essential maintenance to prevent rock falls.

The local authority is now set to reopen its flagship tourist attraction following just over a year of maintenance work, in time for its second summer season.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Councillor Audrey Wales commented: “Council had budgeted around £2 million for its maintenance work, which included work to restore the access path following Storm Frank in 2015.

“We have spent about a quarter of that budget to date, so this next phase to get The Gobbins open represents a significant investment in growing the local economy in Mid and East Antrim through the creation of sustainable jobs and tourism.

“The Gobbins is an outstanding natural and sometimes unpredictable attraction and the only guided adventure walk of its kind in Europe.

“We were very disappointed last year to miss our first peak season due to the unavoidable closure.

“Our visitor figures had already well exceeded our targets for the period and our feedback worldwide had been, and continues to be, extremely positive.”

While Cllr Wales said that the “majority” of maintenance work at the Cliff Path was complete, she warned that a section of the path would be unable to open by the June deadline, and that The Gobbins will operate “seasonal” opening times in future due to annual cliff maintenance work.

“Over recent months we have been working to dislodge loose rock through scaling and the majority of that work is complete,” she explained.

“We have been looking at options for the areas around the ends of the bridges, to ensure that they aren’t damaged during the scaling process and we will now move to complete that element of the maintenance work.

“We will be unable to open a small section at the end of the 2km path in time for June because of the environmental sensitivities within this area and the associated Planning restrictions, but we will work on those areas during the off-peak season later in the year.

“Seasonal opening will be a feature of The Gobbins going forward and will be necessary in order for Council to carry out its annual cliff maintenance work off-peak.”

Despite the difficulties the attraction has faced since it first opened, Cllr Wales described the Gobbins as “so special within Europe.”

“It sits with in an Area of Special Scientific Interest on account of its wildlife and habitats,” she stated.

“It is one of the only mainland sites in Ireland where puffins nest and as such we will always be restricted by the bird nesting season.

“We’re very excited to have a re-opening date confirmed.

“Booking lines will be open again early in May and we look forward to bringing people back to The Gobbins and to Mid and East Antrim for an exhilarating and exciting raw experience with nature.

“Mid and East Antrim has a fantastic range of tourist attractions, from Carrickfergus Castle to Slemish mountain and we have been committed, together with our partners in Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland, to promoting all our assets on a world stage.”