Hugely popular with visitors, events in the outside world conspired to sabotage the original path at The Gobbins.

The high cost of maintaining it became increasingly unattractive to a railway company whose profits were hit by both the Depression of the 1930s and the increasing popularity of cars.

With no spare manpower available to oversee it, the path was closed during the Second World War and fell into disrepair. In 1951, a section of the path re-opened, under the control of the Ulster Transport Authority. However a major landfall, soon afterwards, made it impossible to venture as far as Gordon's Leap. The path was closed in 1954 and finally abandoned around seven years later.

  • APhoto of the path in disrepair taken in the 1980s.
    Courtesy of the Lennon Family
  • BPoster from 1938, warning people that the path is closed.
    Courtesy of the Lennon Family
  • CThe old Tubular Bridge before it collapsed.
    Courtesy of the Lennon Family


By the late 1950's, Wise's path had dramatically deteriorated, but there were still many who shared his belief in The Gobbins as a potential world-class attraction.

Many local people worked tirelessly to try and get the path reopened. Antrim County Council, then responsible for the area, planned a major restoration. But, with the Troubles at their height, insufficient funding and concerns about visitor numbers prevented the scheme being realised - there were three further failed attempts. Then in 2011 Larne Borough Council made funds available from ratepayers to add to funding from the European Union's INTERREG IVA Programme, along with support from Ulster Garden Villages Ltd. to make the project a reality. The reimagined path was built in 2014.

Artist's impression of The Swinging Bridge on the new path before it was built.

Courtesy of Larne Borough Council

Our champion

One of The Gobbins path's greatest champions was the filmmaker, photographer, historian and lecturer, the late John H Lennon, from County Down.

He made numerous surveys of the old path; extensively researched methods to build new bridges and even made two films about it. So impressive was his work both the army and navy offered to help his proposed restoration.

Sadly, John died before the realisation of his dream but he lived long enough to learn of Larne Borough Council's exciting plans to reimagine the path he loved.

John Lennon braves the old tubular bridge.

Courtesy of the Lennon Family

A hidden gem

The closure of the old path did not end its appeal for all visitors.

Even though its remaining bridges and footpaths were now in a perilous condition, the spectacular location around the beautiful cliffs at The Gobbins was a magnet for all kinds of thrill seekers. Climbers, kayakers and abseilers were just some who enjoyed Wise's vision in this exciting, but unauthorised, way.

Larne Borough Council staff survey the cliffs, before that new path was built.

Courtesy of Larne Borough Council/Linda McCullough

Our Thanks....

The reimagined path at The Gobbins was made possible by the generous support of:

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The Gobbins path will be open for the summer season, Council Confirms.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has announced that the internationally-unique coastal path at The Gobbins will re-open at the end of June, just in time for peak visitor season.

The Gobbins closed unexpectedly last year, when extreme weather conditions caused higher levels of rock fall along the path. Council brought forward its programme of planned maintenance in the interests of visitor and staff safety, which it says are paramount.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim , Councillor Audrey Wales MBE outlined what has been happening in Islandmagee over recent months: “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 out feedback worldwide had been, and continues to be, extremely positive.

“The Gobbins is an outstanding natural and sometimes unpredictable attraction and the only guided adventure walk of its kind in Europe. Over recent months we have been working to dislodge loose rock through scaling and the majority of that work is complete. 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.

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

“The Gobbins is so special within Europe. It sits within an area of Special Scientific Interest on account of its wildlife and habitats. 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 will be unable to open a small section at the end of the 2 km 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.

“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” she said.


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