Ski lift plan for Gobbins cliff path

The iconic tubular bridge at the Gobbins cliff path
The iconic tubular bridge at the Gobbins cliff path

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is to examine the possibility of introducing a ski lift at the Gobbins cliff path in a bid to boost visitor numbers.

The Islandmagee venue has proven to be hugely popular since its official opening to the public back in August, with the facility booked out well into October.

Not content to rest on its laurels, the local authority is keen to examine new ways to further enhance the attraction and draw in even more tourists.

This includes potentially expanding the site by connecting the upper and lower paths by way of a ski lift, with the aspiration of making the Gobbins a circular walking route.

Council officers will be seeking engineering solutions and funding opportunities for this mooted scheme.

East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons acknowledged the Gobbins has enjoyed a successful start, but added that further development of the site is possible.

The East Antrim MLA said: “I am delighted that the Gobbins has been so popular and I have no doubt that this success will continue.

“However, I don’t believe that the development of the path should be considered complete.

“I would like to see a link between the Gobbins and the Blackhead path and that would be another positive tourism achievement for the area.

“Additionally, there is scope for, and there has been some discussion about, the possibility of changing the visitor experience at the Gobbins by allowing visitors to walk down the path the to end and then, by way of a ski lift go up to the top of the cliff path and walk back that way.

“This would in my view enhance the visitor experience and importantly increase the capacity at the Gobbins.”

As part of its plan to further enhance the Gobbins, the council is to establish a new committee – comprised of elected representatives - with the aim of coming up with fresh ideas.

This group will replace the existing Gobbins Steering Committee, which focused on capital development of the project.

Alderman Gregg McKeen, who sat on Steering Committee along with Mr Lyons, told the Times: “Phase one of the Gobbins is now complete and it is important that we look to the future.

“We can’t just stay static or we risk the attraction becoming stale. We must look at ways to keep evolving the Gobbins, such as potentially having a boat link to the site from Ballylumford or Portmuck.”

Comprising a series of suspension tubular bridges and tunnels carved through the rock face, the Gobbins has been billed as a world-class tourist attraction.