A PUBLIC path running along the Antrim Coast could be an “iconic” tourist attraction, a report prepared for councillors has suggested.
A report prepared by ‘Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland’ for Mid & East Antrim Borough Council says a feasibility study should be commissioned to assess potential.
At the moment the Antrim Coast Road is a popular driving route.
And sections of the road don’t have footpaths.
Although there are some sections of dedicated coastal path at places like Black Head near Whitehead there is no distinct path along the whole of the Antrim coast.
The reports says: ‘With approximately 90 kilometres of dramatic coastline in the Borough, stretching from Garron Point in the north, around the cliffs of Islandmagee and through the Victorian seaside town of Whitehead, it is not surprising that consultation highlighted a desire for a coastal path, both for the benefit of residents and a significant potential tourism attraction’.
The report said such a route suited the development of long-distance walk trail itineraries and the whole of the path could be completed in a week.
The path could link with high-profile destinations like The Gobbins cliff walk in Islandmagee.
The report acknowledged engagement would be needed with land owners.
It stated: ‘Running through an AONB (Area of Natural Beauty) the Antrim Coast Path is an iconic project due to offering the visitor exceptional natural beauty and coastal landscapes that are unique and instantly recognisable to the Borough.
‘Whether it is a bracing clifftop ramble, a gentle stroll on a beach or a fun day out with family and friends the Antrim Coast Path would provide lots to enthral visitors and locals alike.’
The report says stories of smugglers, shipwrecks, battles, storms and links with Scotland could be highlighted.
It added: ‘The creation of the Antrim Coast Path has the potential to set MEABC (the Council) as a destination of choice for outdoor recreation rather than a thorough-fare to the Causeway Coast.’
The report said access issues, the level of investment required and the time required to complete such a path could be stumbling blocks.