Cliff Climbs and Fun Times

It’s been a while since Explorer Beastie got out anywhere, hasn’t it? So, when we were offered the chance to get away for a day and see The Gobbins Cliff Path in beautiful Co. Antrim, we were both pretty excited! We’d heard a lot about this place from other people… and from other Beasties, too. BeastieBlog long-timers might remember Paddy and Plunkett paying the place a visit in its early days, back in 2015! The path has recently reopened after being closed for repairs and upgrades for a lot of last year, and we were champing at the bit to see this unusual attraction for ourselves.

But first – safety! Even adventurous Explorer Beastie was a tad unsettled when he read this…
Safety First! CrawCrafts Beasties
“Arduous?! I thought this was supposed to be fun!”
But a quick look around the exhibition perked him up again…
In the Gobbins Visitor Centre - CrawCrafts Beasties
…Especially when he found this part of the original walk named after a certain tangerine-hued world leader!
Trump Cave - CrawCrafts BeastiesGood spooky picture, too! So, it wasn’t long before Explorer Beastie was back to his usual carefree self.
No Climbing, Explorer Beastie! CrawCrafts Beasties
But let’s get on with the main event, shall we? We met our guide and hopped into the minibus, which brought us to the beginning of the trail. We were really lucky with the weather, and as we headed down towards the shore, it was so clear that we were able to see Scotland in the distance. Closer to home, we caught a glimpse of the Copeland Islands, which are just off the coast of Co. Down. Can you see them? They’re the three dark grey lines on the horizon in this photo:
The View From the Top - CrawCrafts Beasties
I spent some happy summer days there when I was younger… but what I didn’t know is that they were the inspiration for Laputa, the floating island in Gulliver’s Travels! Thanks to a trick of the light, it often looks like they’re hovering slightly above the surface of the sea.

Before beginning the cliff walk itself, we were able to take advantage of one of the newest additions to the Gobbins – a viewing platform that looks out over the sea, and gives you a bird’s-eye view of the starting point. It was amazing… but don’t look down!
At the Gobbins Viewing Platform - CrawCrafts Beasties
As we approached the entrance, we walked past hedgerows and cliffsides just bursting with beautiful wild flowers. This place isn’t merely a novelty attraction – it’s also an area of special scientific interest, with a huge variety of resident flora and fauna.
Cliffside Meadows at the Gobbins - CrawCrafts Beasties
And look, here we are at the entrance!
At Wise's Eye, The Gobbins - CrawCrafts Beasties
This is Wise’s Eye, the gateway to the Gobbins. The gap in the rock behind me was the official entrance back in the walkway’s turn-of-the-century heyday, and I would have had to pay sixpence to get inside! It’s named after Berkeley Deane Wise, the man who designed and created the pathway. He was an Irish railway engineer who, in order to get people to make better use of the rail networks, created numerous attractions and resorts around Co. Antrim that they would want to visit. The Gobbins Path was the most ambitious of these – a series of bridges, steps and tunnels cut out of the cliff face itself. Cut out by hand, I should probably add – which is perhaps why Wise’s Eye is so narrow!

One of the features that appealed to the first tourists to visit this area was the “unusual landforms” along this stretch of coast… Like this stony face that greets you as you round the corner from Wise’s Eye! Can you see it?
The Face in the Cliffs - CrawCrafts Beasties
Although most of the original pathways are actually still in use today, the bridges that were here when the Gobbins first opened all needed to be replaced. The new bridges have been designed to withstand the worst that the local climate can throw at them, and weather in such a way that they’ll gradually blend in with the landscape.
The Bridges at the Gobbins - CrawCrafts Beasties
Further along, the high cliff walls separate you from the rest of the land, so you feel completely surrounded by the smell and sound of the sea.
Between the Cliffs and the Sea - CrawCrafts Beasties
The water looks quite inviting, doesn’t it?

Another cool thing about this area is its geology. Here, we’re not so far from the world-famous Giant’s Causeway, and you can actually see similar (but smaller and less regular) columns of basalt rock in the cliffs!
Gobbins Geology - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd what’s Explorer Beastie looking at so intensely in the second picture? Well, he’s trying to find Gobbinsite, a mineral that was discovered right here in this very area. Deposits have subsquently popped up all over the globe, but it still retains the name of the place where it was seen first. What someone should probably tell Explorer Beastie is that Gobbinsite is one of a group of minerals that all look very similar, and can only be differentiated by looking at the crystals under a microscope… But the promise of poking around some Beastie-sized caves should probably distract him nicely from that small technicality!
Beastie-Sized Caves - CrawCrafts Beasties
There are human-size caves here as well, although we weren’t able to access them this time around. Apparently they were once used by smugglers, and I read that they were a popular destination for picnics and tea parties back in the day too!
The Old Path and Sandy Cave - CrawCrafts BeastiesIn the picture on the top right, you can also see the remains of part of the old path, which hugged the cliff line much more closely than the current one. But the most striking part of the walk is just around the next corner – the impressive Tubular Bridge!
Walking the Tubular Bridge - CrawCrafts Beasties
This is a reconstruction of the bridge that occupied this stretch of the original walk, and which quickly became the trademark of the Gobbins path. The updated version is twice as wide as its predecessor, but thanks to the fact that it’s made from stainless steel rather than wrought iron, it actually weighs less… And it no longer needs to be repainted every winter to protect it from the elements!

Unfortunately, ongoing maintenance works meant that the Tubular Bridge marked journey’s end for us this time around. Perhaps just as well, since a certain little woolly monster was starting to fall behind the rest of the tour group…
Getting Tired - CrawCrafts Beasties
Still, when you’re so small, it’s easy to hitch a ride home. And that leaves you perfectly refreshed to pose cheerfully with the sign on the way out…
Posing with the Sign - CrawCrafts Beasties
… And play on the beach for the rest of the afternoon!
On the Beach - CrawCrafts Beasties
We had such a great time exploring The Gobbins last week, and Mark, our guide, was friendly and super-knowledgeable! There are only a few days left in the current tour season, but the full path is due to reopen in the Spring, so be sure to book your tickets if you’re heading to this part of the world! Oh, and Game of Thrones fans will probably be interested to learn that the bus trip back to the centre takes you within Jon-Snow-stalking distance of Castle Black… Just sayin’!

Has anyone else headed to the Gobbins this summer? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! And we’ll have more monster fun for you next Tuesday, so we’ll see you then!

35 thoughts on “Cliff Climbs and Fun Times

    1. Yes, it was great fun… And nowhere near as physically tough as the safety info made out! Definitely worth a look if you ever find yourselves on the Causeway Coast πŸ˜€

  1. Oh, I’m so green with envy. THAT looks so interesting. And I think it’s kind of crazy that someone would carve out attractions from a rock in order to have his railroad used more often. It sounds very American … HaHaHa

    Thanks for sharing this awesome trip … it’s added to my travel list, as well.

    1. Ha! I didn’t think of it like that. It sounds like Mr Wise got a taste for carving apparently impossible routes out of cliffsides when he worked on the Dublin-Bray railway line early in his career, and he just never stopped! πŸ˜† Glad you enjoyed the trip, it’s definitely worth a look if you’re over on this side of the pond!

  2. You and your beasties have me jealous – I want to go there and to Giants Causeway! Explorer beastie was getting very close to the edge at one point.

    1. Yes, he’s a bit of a daredevil! πŸ˜€ This part of the world is definitely worth a visit – there’s so much to see! As well as this and the Giant’s Causeway, there are some amazing beaches and the beautiful Glens of Antrim, too. You’ll need at least a couple of days! Book now, you deserve a break πŸ˜‰

  3. Gorgeous! What a brave little Beastie…. I am shaking in my boots looking at some of those pics! Castle Black, you say??? I hope Explorer Beastie didn’t abandon you to take up with the Night’s Watch? It’s really not a good time to be hanging out around the wall….

    1. Indeed… Winter really is coming, you know! I managed to talk him out of taking the black pretty easily with the promise of a hot dinner. Beasties know where their loyalties lie!

  4. I was getting a little worried for Explorer Beastie…some of those walkways look like a monster could slip right through the grating. This looks like a GOB of fun, although I kind of wish (with the caves and all) it was called “Goblins.” I wonder though who had to count all the steps…and who would even attempt this is they have a fear of heights. Love the helmet, by the way….possible inspiration for a Gobbins Beastie, perhaps?

    1. Yes, I seriously considered a change of direction into fashion blogging after publishing this… I think my outfit here is definitely catwalk-worthy! πŸ˜‚ And one of our fellow adventurers did declare a fear of heights at the outset, but he seemed to enjoy the experience just fine. I’d be more worried about encountering goblins in the caves… Maybe that’s why they’re closed to the tours at the moment! 😱

        1. Sounds like a great idea! The Gobbins is closed now until spring, so they won’t even lose out on customers! πŸ˜€

    1. Alas, no! The closest thing to a goblin on the cliffs that day was a little blue woolly monster! But the group after us spotted a pod of dolphins swimming close to the shore if that counts? πŸ˜€

        1. Yes, we were all looking back over the cliffs to see if we could spot them, but they’d already moved on! Apparently they’ve seen all kinds of cool creatures pass by the shore though, including basking sharks and even orcas!

        2. I know… I couldn’t believe they’d seen orcas! I had no idea they ever visited our humble little island!

  5. Gobbins looks so cool!! I really need to get myself over to your neck of the woods more often for some exploring! I like the photo of you and the Beastie outside the sixpence cave πŸ™‚ I will admit, though, that I read this as “Goblin’s Hole” at first and it conjured up all kinds of childhood memories of The Princess and the Goblin–have you ever read this novel?? It’s wonderful and the Beasties may like it if they don’t mind a wee fright!

    1. Ooooh, l’ll have to look out for that… The Beasties and I love a little scare πŸ˜€ And I’ve actually been surprised how much good stuff there is to explore up in Co. Antrim… It’s a long time since I’d been there, and there’s so much more to it than just the Giant’s Causeway! Thanks for stopping by, Melissa!

  6. Absolutely marvelous and breath-taking views of the The Gobbins! Very dramatic, indeed. I would have been a little intimidated by the initial warning as well, but those beautiful views are so worth the hike. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to be surrounded by the craggy rock faces and the sea. And, I remember marveling at pictures of the Giant’s Causeway as a kid – how cool that similar formations are also found in this region. Lovely to see you at the gateway; looks like it was a beautiful day!

    1. Thanks, Shirley! Yes, we were very lucky with the weather… The groups before and after us both got rained on, but we got bursts of sunshine and some seriously dramatic skies! It’s actually a great way to spend an afternoon, so I’m looking forward to visiting when the repairs are finished and the whole path is open again. Thanks for dropping in, hope you had a nice weekend! πŸ˜€

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