Tyrella Beach, County Down, December 28th 2014

Like most, we sat in the house over Christmas, eating, drinking, watching (terrible) TV, with some eating, and drinking (sorry, did I say that already?) and by the time the 28th of December came we decided we just had to get the hell out of the house as we felt like stuffed pigs. Luckily, the weather was amazing (though cold) so we headed off in the direction of Castlewellan (near Newcastle, Co.Down) to explore a little. After a few well needed coffees, and about a 40 minute drive, we followed the sign for Tyrella beach…

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Tyrella is situated in an “Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty” within Dundrum Bay. It is backed by a great sand dune complex with winding pathways where you can enjoy a sheltered walk.

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Our view from the car park as we arrived.

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Looking like Kilimanjaro, this is a relatively uncommon shot of Slieve Donard (part of the Mourne Mountains) sprinkled with snow on a blazing sunny day. It is the tallest mountain peak in Northern Ireland.

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A whole galaxy of rag worm sand casts at low tide Tyrella beach.

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The deserted sands at Tyrella, just 3 days after Christmas 2014.

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A rider and horse the only other living thing we saw that morning.

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A beautiful scene.

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Our final view before we headed back to our car for the trip to Castlewellan Forest Park, just a few miles up the road.

Gortmore and Binevenagh, County Derry/Londonderry

On a cold November day like this one, you’d better dress up warm for where we are going now. Taking the little twisty road up from Downhill beach (posting that soon) you climb through the wilds of Northern, erm, Northern Ireland to Gortmore and on along the Binevenagh plateau. Amazing views, and very, very, windy. Brrrr!

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The road to Gortmore, bleak, yet beautiful.

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Eventually you will come to this National Trust signpost (one end points to Castlerock, one to Limavady) and a carpark.

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Walk out along this path, and hold onto your hat!

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A panoramic shot of the view up here. Its not called windy hill for nothing.

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Some info provided.

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Gortmore Viewpoint is situated on the Bishop’s Road, on the Binevenagh Loop which is part of the Causeway Coastal Route. On a clear day views extend across to Donegal and the islands of Islay and Jura off the west coast of Scotland. Picnic facilities are available. In addition, a sculpture of Manannan Mac Lir, a sea God originating from this area can be viewed from this scenic viewpoint. The distant headland here is where we went next…

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Getting your bearings.

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Follow the road on from Gortmore through the glorious landscape then take the sign for Binevenagh forest (the lake isn’t very well signposted). Once at the lake above, park your car and set off on foot along the trail ahead. All pics above are full size by clicking (as ever).

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You’ll soon come to this. Prepare for the views and a rush of vertigo!

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Its impossible for any photograph to do this area justice. The height above sea level cant really be conveyed. If you have a fear of heights, get near the edge and youll feel sick haha.

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Like you’re on top of the world. Gortmore is almost 900ft up so I reckon this must be something the same. In the distance before you is Magilligan Point.

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Simply breath taking. And Binevenagh remains a place rarely mentioned in the tourist guides for Northern Ireland. Shame. We cant wait to return. It also proves that even in Winter, you can still get out there and enjoy the countryside.

Creightons Woods, North Down, County Down

Having lived in this area for over 10 years now, it came as a bit of a surprise to go for a drive a few days ago and discover a place Id never seen before, literally 15 minutes from my home. Theres almost nothing about Creightons Wood on Google in terms of information or location, and judging by the condition of the place it seems as if it doesn’t see many visitors these days. The sign at the entrance is badly rotting, and many of the trees have fallen over and are diseased. Such a shame, as on this mild November morning I had the whole place to myself and didn’t see any wildlife in there, not even a bird (which felt slightly weird!). The woods are hundreds of feet above sea level (which is at Belfast Lough below). As the wind blew that morning it made an eerie wailing noise through the trees, really fantastic stuff. There were many varieties of mushroom growing there too, none Id take a chance on eating however, as I’m not at all educated on all things fungi. But I hope to visit this abandoned and melancholy place again soon.

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The old sign into the woods. An old poster of a lost dog remains stuck to one leg of it. I wonder was he ever found?

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Trees tower high into the November sky. Not a sound but the wailing wind.

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Many trees have fallen over a long time ago it seems. Leaving big pools of dark water where their roots used to be.

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Strangely, parts of the woods seemed to be flourishing too however, with a stream here bursting with green leafy life even at the edge of an oncoming Winter.

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Another tree sits precariously after falling, and a green blanket of moss covers the foreground in Creightons Wood.

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A circle of mushrooms.

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Picture taken from the top of a big mushroom.

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A fungi giant. If I had know he was edible I would have taken him home.

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Looks like someone in the past had placed a piece of old picket fence to cross the stream.

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The roots and base of a fallen tree looks like some creepy witch figure here.

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No, not a six foot long piece of broccoli, but a little fallen tree covered in moss.

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Flooded land at Creightons Wood. November 2014.