Restoration of The Gobbins – Antrim

Feb 19, 2014

The Gobbins is a Victorian coastal pathway in Co. Antrim which once attracted more visitors than the Giant’s Causeway. The Gobbins is an area of basalt sea cliffs, up to 60m in height, on the eastern coast at Islandmagee, just north of Whitehead in County Antrim. The name comes from the Irish, An Gobain, meaning 'the points of rock'. The cliffs command panoramic views across the North Channel, from the Outer Hebrides in the north to the Lake District and the Isle of Man in the south. Legends associated with the Gobbins include mythical figures such as Gobbin Saor, a terrifying giant who lived in the cliffs.

In 1902 railway magnate Berkeley Deane Wise constructed half-a-mile of paths, steps, bridges and tunnels running high along the outcrops, spanning waterfalls and plunging to within a few feet of the Irish Sea. In its Victorian heyday the walkway was one of the most popular attractions in Ireland. But by mid-century maintenance of the route had come to a standstill and over the years nature took its toll. The path closed to the public in 1954.

One of the walkways which led visitors over the Gobbins.

A group led by Larne Borough Council is investing £6m to restore the walkways to their original splendour and once again promote the walkways as a key tourist attraction for the North. The new walkway will feature around 15 bridges, including innovative tubular bridges and impressive cable stay structures. Construction will be difficult and its anticipated that some of the bridges will be lifted into place using helicopters.

Byrne Looby’s Belfast office are geotechnical designer on the project and are advising on rockfall strategy, landslip avoidance, geological inspections, foundation design (assisted by both London and Dublin offices) and other support structures.

Other members of the project team includes:
Client – Larne Borough Council
Contractor – McLaughlin & Harvey (Mallusk, Newtownabbey)
Bridge Designer – Doran Consulting
Geotechnical Designer – Byrne Looby Partners (UK) Limited

The project is expected to be open to the public by June 2014.