Glen River Walk, Mourne Mountains, Newcastle, County Down.

On a perfect August bank holiday morning we set out from Donard car park in Newcastle at about 8am, intending to climb as far as the Mourne wall which sits just at the base of the imposing Slieve Donard. We had never been up here before, so didn’t really know what awaited us. I wouldnt say the climb was easy, but the scenery was just stunning and certainly made up for our wobbly legs.

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After the pretty stiff climb up through Donard Wood from Newcastle, you eventually come out here, where you see a strange stone building. This building was an ice-house, a primitive fridge of sorts, built by the Annesley Family (former owners of Donard Park).

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A little bumblebee who was sitting on a rock warming himself up in the early morning Sun, getting ready for a day of pollen collecting.

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So beautiful up here.

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Just to the left of the picture is early mist hanging over Slieve Donard. Still a long way to go from here though.

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A funny little tree fitting into the curve of the mountain.

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Almost, but not just, looking downhill from the Mourne Wall. Thats Newcastle very far away in the distance.

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Finally here, the magnificent Mourne Wall cutting Slieve Donard in two. We had climbed something like three miles mostly upward. Phew.

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After a bite of lunch, and a just as tough descent, we cooled our feet in this crystal clear pool of water in Donard Wood. Wonderful. For information on this walk see here: http://www.walkni.com/walks/462/glen-river/

Enniskillen, Fermanagh Lakelands, Lough Erne

It always amazes me how quiet and deserted the areas around the Fermanagh lakes are. It seems the only real hive of activity is around the bar on Lusty Beg island or in Enniskillen town center itself. But I guess that’s just the way people like it.

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Nothing but the sound of lapping water and a few birds for miles.

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View towards the Island Restaurant on Lusty Beg. You get the free ferry across to here from the mainland and the island has many chalets to stay in, with walks and some sports activities on offer.

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We took a walk around the signposted “nature trail” on Lusty Beg island, but it seemed as if no one really tended to it much as it was like cutting through a jungle in July.

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A little boat moored on the water. Continue reading

Groomsport & Donaghadee, County Down (August 2014)

Groomsport (from Irish Port an Ghiolla Ghruama, meaning “port of the gloomy servant”) is a village and townland two miles north east of Bangor in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is on the south shore of Belfast Lough and on the north coast of the Ards Peninsula. Donaghadee is probably best known for its lighthouse and harbour. For centuries, it has been a haven for ships, and the harbour has been there from at least the 17th century.

 

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I took this picture looking across a bay just before arriving in the town of Groomsport.

 

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Groomsport bay with its rocky outcrops, this was early on an august morning, almost no one around.

 

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Fading Summer 2014

 

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A gate to where? Groomsport beach.

 

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This old boat sits out of the water at Donaghadee harbour. Its days at sea have long since gone. Looks like the starlings have chosen it as a perch now.

 

 

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A boy fishing off the harbour wall at Donaghadee, beside the towering lighthouse.

 

 

Helens Bay & Crawfordsburn Park County Down

The Helens Bay area in North Down is stunning. Sitting just at the mouth of Belfast Lough, looking out onto the Irish Sea, there are some lovely walks here. In fact the walk from Holywood in the South all the way along to Bangor is a beautiful one (even further to Groomsport if you’re really feeling energetic) but in Autumn (when the visiting daytrippers have gone) a peaceful calm takes over. Thats when many like it best.

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Sunset on a November evening, just slightly South of Helens Bay. If you look really closely you can see one of the old World War 2 lookout posts in the picture. Theres also a great WW2 museum just behind here called Grey Point Fort. See here: http://www.greypointfort.magix.net/public/

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Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach, a feeling in the air, the Summers out of reach…

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Looking across Helens Bay, spoiled only a little by Kilroot power station on the far side of the lough in the distance.

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A small scene of Game of Thrones was shot around here when Brienne had Jaime Lannister prisoner.

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Underneath Crawfordsburn viaduct. The trains to and from Bangor go over this regularly. The walk around here is beautiful (see pics below). Including a waterfall which looks great on a day after rain.

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Deep in Crawfordsburn Country Park, which opened to the public in 1971. Even on a cold Winters day, many local families and visitors frequent the park, which includes a really nice little cafe for hot food and drinks.

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During Autumn, the park bursts with colour. Don’t forget your camera.

Granite trail, Newcastle, County Down.

The “Granite Trail” is one of the easier walks around the base of The Mournes that starts at the harbour in Newcastle. Theres a little sign across the road from the harbour pointing you to the start of the trail, so you shouldn’t get lost.

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This is basically the entrance to the start of the trail. From here you will climb up quite a bit through a wooded area, but there’s a few things to read and exhibits to see along the way.

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One of the old wagons use to bring granite down from the quarry

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This sign explains the use of a “slipe” (a sledge) that was used to move granite when a wheeled wagon couldn’t be.

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You might start to lose a bit of breath by this point, and if you’re tall you will have to duck under those branches like me.

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Nearly there. It gets easier once you get over the stile up ahead (turn right and follow the path).

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Interesting read on this sign, apparently the word “shoddy” (taken normally to mean untidy or badly made) was the name given to broken pieces of stone left over after making plinths etc

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We got a really nice day to come up here, I’m pretty sure that’s not too common, but climb over here and go right. The hardest part of the walk is over.

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Looking back to where you came from in those trees.

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A little pillar at the top points out what you “might” see.

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The quarry at the top. Theres an eerie effect here if anything is going on down the hill in Newcastle. The sound comes up the mountain, hits the wall at the back and you may think that voices or music, or whatever is coming out from inside the rock. Get close to the wall at the back and listen. You might get lucky. Spooky.

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An old abandoned bucket from one of the machines that used to work up here.

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This little stone hut was beside the quarry at the peak of the “Granite Trail”

Details of the entire walk can be found here:   http://www.walkni.com/walks/333/granite-trail/