Reopening date set for Gobbins

The iconic tubular bridge at the Gobbins cliff path.  INLT 33-682-CON
The iconic tubular bridge at the Gobbins cliff path. INLT 33-682-CON

The flagship Gobbins Cliff Path is set to re-open in just over a fortnight, according to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

A report presented to the council’s Economic Growth and Development Committee on April 14 revealed that the tourist attraction will be back in business on Saturday April 30.

Bookings are already being accepted for the reopening period, and a range of activities have been undertaken in preparation.

These include a rock fall management plan, which involves the development of a draft training programme for staff.

An exercise to review the site’s emergency plan took place on April 16, and a review of the emergency plan will now take place with external agencies.

In December, the £7.5 million path closed just five months after opening when Storm Frank washed away soil, stones and other material from the route, causing severe damage to the access path.

The council then began work to put in place a new drainage system to help manage this landslip and commenced repairs to the main path.

During the closure period, the report says that trade events such as the Launch of The Gobbins in the Nordic markets were facilitated.

In addition, Tourism Northern Ireland arranged Meet the Buyer events and visits were made to the Gobbins Visitors’ Centre, which remained open, by media and tour operators from across Europe.

The council report states that “discussions have taken place with a number of tour operators and group bookings are on the increase.”

It also reveals that staff have been trained in geology and wildlife during the closure period, with a presentation being developed for those who cannot walk the path due to health issues.

“The presentation has been developed as a marketing opportunity to walking clubs and to the Belfast Naturalist Field Club,” it continues.

“A recruitment and training exercise has taken place for the seasonal staff and they have been trained to meet with the needs of the attraction over its first full summer of operation.”

Addressing the educational potential of the Gobbins, the report says that an education programme will be developed for students studying GCSE Geography, Travel and Tourism and for primary school children, including the development of a mascot and activity pack.

Meanwhile, specialist tours have been developed for photography and plans are at an early stage for bird watching and wildlife tours.