Hailed as being the most dramatic walk in Europe, the Gobbins Walk in County Antrim is genuinely breathtaking. Here is everything you need to know about it.
Part of the spectacular Causeway Coastal Route is The Gobbins Cliff Path in Islandmagee, Northern Ireland.
Offering a thrill-seeking way to see the magnificent Antrim coastline, this 3.2 km (2 miles) route should be a must-do on everyone’s Irish bucket list!
The original path at The Gobbins was opened in 1902 and immediately became a popular attraction with both tourists and locals.
Designed by Berkeley Deane Wise, a railway engineer, at the turn of the 20th century, The Gobbins offered a unique way of exploring the undiscovered coastline.
Due to its exposed location and the effects of coastal erosion, the route required constant maintenance and eventually was closed down in the 1950s. The trail didn’t reopen again until 2015 after undergoing extensive renovations.
Today the Gobbins attracts 20,000 visitors annually. This exhilarating experience allows you to stand on steel bridges above the wild sea while also enjoying close-up views of the magnificent cliffs.
When to visit – check the weather before visiting
As you can only visit the Gobbins as part of a guided tour, pre-booking is essential. The numbers of participants on the tour will be limited, which means you don’t have to worry about picking a quiet time.
Those wishing to embark on this breathtaking adventure must partake in a two-and-a-half-hour fully guided walking tour.
Summer is a very popular time of year to visit, so make sure you’re on the ball when booking! It’s a beautiful sight to behold in the months of spring and summer.
Tours can be cancelled due to unsafe conditions caused by bad weather on the County Antrim coast, so look at the weather before booking to minimise this risk! When it isn’t raining, any time is the perfect time to visit The Gobbins.
What to see – best bits
The first part of your adventure along the Gobbins Cliff Walk is what is known as Wise’s Eye, named after the path’s creator.
You will have to pass through an oval-shaped hole, which is carved into the rock. Originally, it was where a toll collector would collect entrance fees.
Beside this rock is the original sign for The Gobbins, which is also cut into the rockface. This carved-out trail then continues to snake its way around the beautiful cliffs.
One of the most unique aspects of the Gobbins is the multiple bridges that traverse the cliffs. These bridges give you a unique view of the surrounding area both above and below.
The iconic Tubular Bridge is one of the most spectacular sights in the Gobbins. Just ten metres above the swirling seas, this bridge is exposed, so you may end up getting a splash or two!
There are various rock formations along the Causeway Coast caused by the constant sea swells that are dotted along the route.
The Man O’War is a sea stack that was formed from the cooling of molten lava. If you look at it closely, you will see that it slightly resembles a battleship.
As you are exploring the rugged coastline, there are countless opportunities to spot some wildlife. Due to the high cliffs and hidden ledges, The Gobbins is a hotspot for different types of birds.
There are razorbills, puffins, and even cormorants! Sometimes as you walk across the footbridges, you may even spot a seal or two in the waters below!
Things to know – handy tips
During the summer months, the Gobbins are extremely popular, so it is best to book well in advance. Tours can be fully booked up to two weeks in advance, so be sure to plan accordingly!
Bags and personal belongings are not permitted on the walk. For safety reasons, your hands must be free at all times. So, if you are bringing a camera, it must be hung around your neck.
Lockers are provided free of charge in which you can safely store your personal belongings while on your adventure.
As cliffs are known to bear the brunt of bad weather, it is best to dress accordingly in outdoor clothing. Wear waterproof jackets along with some warm layers as the wind has a chilling factor.
Sturdy walking boots must be worn, which can be rented from the tour providers. A hard hat will also be provided.
Restrictions – not for small children
The tour is unsuitable for those under 1.2 metres (4 ft) and for those with certain medical conditions.
For example, heart conditions could be exacerbated by strenuous exercise. A reasonable level of fitness is required as part of the walk is extremely steep and can be quite strenuous.
It takes two to three hours to complete the Gobbins Cliff Walk, so be sure to eat before your adventure, as you will need your energy! There is a café in the visitor centre where you can get some treats and coffee if required.
Address: Middle Rd, Islandmagee BT40 3SL, UK, Islandmagee BT40 3SX, United Kingdom
Other notable mentions
Otter Cave: A landslip cascading into the sea now covers the entrance to Otter Cave.
Puffin colony: The cliffs at The Gobbins are home to the only mainland colony of puffins in Northern Ireland.
FAQs about The Gobbins
Can I visit The Gobbins without a tour?
No. You must take a guided tour to visit The Gobbins as otherwise it is locked.
Can I get the bus from Belfast to The Gobbins?
Yes! You can take the bus from the Europa Station in Belfast to Larne Bus Station. From there, take the 170b bus to Ballystrudder. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the Visitor Centre.
How much time will it take to visit?
Allow around two to three hours for your trip to The Gobbins.