Whitehead’s five-star rated walk beset with safety issues

Blackhead lighthouse sits majestically on top of the cliff face   CT37-476RM
Blackhead lighthouse sits majestically on top of the cliff face CT37-476RM

Campaigners have long sought the full restoration of Blackhead Path at Whitehead.

Earning a five-star rating from TripAdvisor, the path - on which restoration work is to commence in June - also features on WalkNI.com, a guide to walking in Northern Ireland.

Friends of Blackhead Path hand a petition to then Carrick Mayor Billy Ashe in 2012.

Friends of Blackhead Path hand a petition to then Carrick Mayor Billy Ashe in 2012.

Overlooking the route, of course, is Blackhead Lighthouse. It features in the Lighthouse Tourism Trail project, which was officially launched in 2013 by then Tourism Minister Arlene Foster and then Irish Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar.

A number of petitions have been drawn up over the years with residents and visitors putting their names to the drive to see the whole of the famous walkway secured for future generations to enjoy.

The most recent was almost at its target of 5,000 signatures just two days after going live in 2017, helping add fresh impetus to the fight to see Blackhead restored to full glory.

Blackhead Path Preservation Society’s Facebook page provides regular updates on the campaign.

Signs warning walkers of the dangers (archive image).

Signs warning walkers of the dangers (archive image).

The path has had severe subsidence issues and rock fall risks for decades. A health and safety report presented to the legacy Carrickfergus Council forced its closure before the formation of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The latter has committed itself to a multi-million pound project and has been working with geologists and the Health and Safety Executive since MEA Council’s inception in 2015 to monitor subsidence and start repairs.

Fences and signs alerting the public to the risks have been put up, but some people have ignored them. Fence posts and locks have been removed with metal saws and council has issued repeat warnings to people of the serious risks of using the path in its current state.

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Cracks forming on the surface in 2007.

Cracks forming on the surface in 2007.

Blackhead Path restoration work to commence in June

The path has had rock fall issues for decades.

The path has had rock fall issues for decades.

Some people have ignored warning signs.

Some people have ignored warning signs.