Karen and Laurence visit ’The Gobbins’ - Northern Ireland’s fantastic new tourist attraction!
With many of you hopefully coming to the ‘Carrickfergus 2017’ gathering Karen and I thought we would check out Northern Ireland’s newest tourist attraction…the dramatic coastal walk of ‘The Gobbins’.
We have to say we did not leave disappointed. It is fantastic!
The Gobbins Path (Irish: Goban meaning tip/point of land or headland) located in Islandmagee, nine miles or so from Carrickfergus in County Antrim is a unique coastal experience. Having originally opened to the Edwardian public in 1902, it fell into decline due to damage caused by the pounding waves and lack of investment, before closing in the 1950s.
It has now reopened, a reimagined version of Northern Ireland’s ‘best kept secret’, a feat of modern engineering allowing one a fabulous and special encounter with nature on a two to three hour fully guided tour starting at the new visitor centre.
Whilst touring the walk exhibition in the centre, of course there just had to be a MacAulay connection! A display board tells one that despite the lack of safety measures only one serious accident took place on the old path, when a ten year old girl slipped through a gap and fell fifteen metres into the sea below. Two young men from Belfast, one of whom was Robert Macauley heard her desperate cries and quickly dived in to carry her to safety…ah, ”Danger is Sweet”.
The approximate two and a half mile walk follows a dramatic cliff face path, with it’s tunnels and staircases, clinging to the sides of sheer basalt cliffs a few metres above the sea. Numerous spectacular connecting bridges allow one to walk above the North Channel waves pounding the cliffs below. All along your well informed tour guide tells of the geology, fauna, nature and history
of the area through your personal radio link.
We visited in early November on a damp overcast day so couldn’t take in the beautiful views of County Downs Copeland Islands and Scotland’s coast with Ailsa Craig. Sadly, we also missed seeing the incredible seabird colonies, including the numerous puffins, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes that nest on the cliff face in early summer. We shall definitely return next year to witness them in the breeding season.
The walk is certainly exhilarating and if you like the wild outdoors not to be missed. As the tour leaves every half hour with only a maximum of fifteen persons allowed unfortunately we are unable to organise a special gathering outing in 2017. On the November day we visited the whole days tours were fully booked, so summer bookings shall be at a premium. We would therefore recommend you book online well in advance of your journey to Northern Ireland in 2017!
There are strict health and safety rules regarding the walk, such as wearing hard hats and the right footwear (hiking shoes/boots).
Clan MacAulay Gathering Carrickfergus 2017