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“Wonderful Experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Blackhead Path

Blackhead Path
Old Castle Road, Whitehead, Northern Ireland
028 9335 8000
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Ranked #2 of 16 Attractions in Whitehead
Type: Trails, Outdoors
Attraction details
Edmonton, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Wonderful Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2012

We stayed at Blackhead Lightkeepers House for a week in May 2009. We soon found this incredible 100 yr old concrete pathway which went from our doorstep down the cliffside, through some amazing caves, and then onward about 3 miles into Whitehead. This walk along the shoreline of Belfast Lough was so beautiful that it kept us from some of the other sights. We long to return...

Visited September 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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32 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
Belfast, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“A place to create memories with your grandchildren”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2012

Blackhead Coastal Path is a hidden secret along the Antrim Coast. I particular find it the best children’s playground around for my grandchildren; I’m talking the natural type. From Blackberry Picking to going on a coastal safari at the Wren’s Eggs (leave the car park and walk towards the lighthouse; at the large stones on the sea shore called the Wren’s Eggs there are loads of rock pools at low tide).

Likewise, the grandchildren love heading into the Magic Forest (throw a derelict garden wall on the land-side of the Wren’s Eggs which leads into a small enchanted wood)s that even Enid Blyton could have used as a background for her Adventurous Five books.

My 5 year old loves the challenge of the circular path around the lighthouse especially when she gets a treat afterwards (cosmic from the Post Office) for completing it. Though, she still needs to hold my hand through the caves and not quite old enough to climb onto the Submarine Rock.

I like to start the walk by parking in the car park at the centre of the town of Whitehead (Balmoral Avenue), walk to the railway station, past the Fire Station and turn right onto the promenade. My reasoning is simply because I finish near the cafes. Alternative start points are Quay Lane (just left of the main Belfast Road before entering into the town) making it a 5 mile round trip and taking in the Nature Reserve, the Yacht Club on the promenade or the Blackhead Car Park.

Except the circular path part around the light house, this path is suitable for wheelchairs.

Visited August 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Belfast
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Spectacular walk and views”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2012 via mobile

I walk along this path every single day. It is so beautiful no matter what the weather. If the sun shines the blue of the sea is superb, if it rains and blows a gail (as it usually does) the crashing of the waves against the rocks is even more superb. It really is a most for any keen walkers.

Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Belfast, United Kingdom
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Blackhead Path”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2012

An excellent spot for a walk, particularly good for dog walkers and parents with young children. Although the path is not well maintained, it is eminently usable for folk of all ages and physical abilities due to the level nature. The closed section encompasses the area below the cliff which offers fantastic views of Scotland on a clear day and can be spectacular fun when the wind and sea is rough. I would thoroughly recommend it to all. Hopefully, if funding can be found, the path might some day be linked up as it was in Edwardian times and enable walkers access all the way to the Gobbins.

Visited August 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carrickfergus, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
245 reviews 245 reviews
147 attraction reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
617 helpful votes 617 helpful votes
“A century-old adventure”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2012

Whitehead once thronged with tourists coming to walk the Blackhead path. A century ago it had more visitors than the Giant’s Causeway! You can still see this local wonder today.

If you want to see wildlife, sea caves, a great view of Belfast Lough and Scotland, or if you need exercise and fresh air, come here.

Drivers can start the walk from the seafront car park. Walkers can start anywhere from Whitehead’s promenade. The path runs northwest along the shoreline.

What’s to see? Perched on the headland is the shining tower of Black Head Lighthouse, which first shone in 1902. Today it is automated, unmanned. Adventurous souls strolling in the evening will be rewarded by the sight of its beam sweeping the mouth of Belfast Lough.

I like to watch wildlife. Walking the path I have seen the huge fin of a basking shark out to sea, terns dive-bombing into the water, cormorants, oystercatchers, bullfinches, nesting fulmar, patrolling gannets, hovering kestrel and even a peregrine falcon. In the flowers and bushes around you may be singing robins and wrens, or seasonal butterflies. People I know have spied exotic creatures like a lizard, or killer whales from the path. You sometimes see hooded crows doing a trick with shelled seafood they find. The crows fly up with it to drop it on the rocks, trying to break the shells open.

Many people go fishing at the foot of the cliff, below the lighthouse.

If you bring the kids, there are great spots for beachcombing. Beyond seashells and pebbles of every hue there are always a few crab shells for anyone who looks long enough to find them. (They’re clean, emptied things; the crabs shed their armour regularly so they can grow bigger.)

There are sea caves you cross on concrete bridges. One odd highlight in the first, biggest one (Smuggler’s Cave) is the Schoolmaster’s Bedchamber. A teacher used to sleep there, back in the nineteenth century.

I know almost nothing about plant life. I can recognize the flowers of scarlet pimpernel, and love the yellow blooms of gorse bushes.

If you’re brave enough to venture out late on a summer evening you’ll have moths bashing into you, and see bats flittering above. I’ve even joined crowds at night at the start of the path who were watching meteor showers. The spot was so sheltered from artificial lights that we could see the Milky Way. (Please never go there alone at night. Please do TELL someone every time you’re going on this cliff walk, for safety’s sake. If that sounds alarming, know that many people walk this path weekly, and even daily in total safety. I just think it's sensible to tell people where you're going.)

Many people use the route to walk dogs. There are some of those dog mess bins here and there. Cars use the path to reach the few houses on the coast; pedestrians then have to step aside for a moment.

If the weather turns bad, or you want to sit for a while, there are several brick shelters spaced out along the route. There are also benches to sit on.

There are two ways to start the path. From the top of Old Castle Road one way goes into the bushes and runs along behind the back gardens of Donegall Avenue. This way has not been well maintained, and can be very muddy after rain. I love it because it’s a great stretch for butterflies and birdsong in the greenery. It comes downhill to meet the main path just past the first brick shelter.

Below, joining onto the seafront car park is the main, wide concrete path. Most people go this way. You’ll see signs warning you that the path could be slippery, there may be falling rocks, or railings are dangerous. Another sign declares the path closed. People just walk around that sign and continue up around the path on the cliffs. Crossing any road is more dangerous - the chances of the cliff falling the moment you’re beneath is astronomically small. For a tiny risk you'll be rewarded with the sights, sounds and smells of a remarkable stretch of the Antrim Coast.

Visited August 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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