Monday, 31 August 2015

Ulster’s white knuckle walk re-opens

A CLIFF FACE walk in County Antrim, #Northern Ireland, designed and built more than a century ago has been re-opened to the public.

The #Gobbinscoastalpath in #Islandmagee was the brainchild of Irish railway engineer Berkley Deane Wise. It opened in 1902 and soon became famous as a white knuckle walk. Edwardian-era visitors were able to have close encounters with waves and wildlife.

The path, which is carved into black basalt cliffs, was an engineering triumph: it's connected by a network of walkways and bridges, the most iconic of which was a tubular bridge. Post-war austerity meant decline for the 1.5 mile walkway; it was closed to the public in the 1950s.

A £7.5 million restoration project began in 2013, replacing bridges, hand rails, and constructing a new visitors centre.

Before starting the walk, visitors are given a safety briefing and a hard hat in the visitors centre.

The walk is described as strenuous and is not suitable for everyone. No-one under the height of 3’ 9” will be allowed to take the walk, and visitors with cardiac, respiratory, asthmatic, or joint conditions are urged not to attempt it.

Groups of 10 to 15 will be guided along the bridges which cling to the cliff face just feet above the sea. The route allows visitors to see coastal birds such as Puffins, Guillemots and Kittiwakes up close. It's also possible to spot porpoises off the coast.

Tours should be booked in advance and the costs are £8.50 for adults, concessions £6, and a family rate of £23.

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Picture Credit: Wikimedia 

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