Cycling in County Down.
From mountain top to sandy shore, hidden gems proliferate around the highways and byways of the Mourne Mountains.
Roll up the magic road
There will always be magic in the Mournes, but for a little extra, stop your car on the enchanted road at Spelga Dam and let the handbrake off… it will mysteriously roll uphill. In defiance of the law of gravity, so will water, footballs and anything else that can revolve. Is it the fairies, magnetism or an optical illusion? You decide.
Get out on Carlingford’s waters
Enjoy a whole host of watery adventure on Carlingford Lough, from the quieter pursuits of angling, sailing, sea kayaking and canoeing to some raucous banana boating, jet skiing and pier jumping. You can also charter lough cruises for deep sea angling, bird-watching or for just taking in the scenery around Warrenpoint and Rostrevor, backed always by Mourne Mountain views.
Eat up the miles on a food and film cycle tour
Serve yourself some gentle downhill cycling, stunning filming location scenery and delicious artisan foods. The Mourne Foods and Films Cycle Tour pulls these three Mournes temptations together, with even a free shuttle bus to get you to the Spelga Dam start point and a bike pannier to carry anything you buy. Don’t miss the Mourne Honey or Dundrum Bay mussels.
Key in on Kilbroney
If you are anywhere near Rostrevor and Kilbroney Forest Park, you must climb to see the giant Cloughmore Stone and views of Carlingford Lough that will take your breath away. Or, if you have children, Kilbroney is lovely for the C.S. Lewis-inspired Narnia Trail. The author spent boyhood holidays in the area and said it was his idea of Narnia.
See Dundrum Castle
Leave plenty of time for a visit to Dundrum Castle, as you must also take in the shops and fine restaurants in the picturesque village. The medieval coastal castle stands on the top of a rocky hill commanding fantastic views over Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains. Explore, and then drop back to the village for lunch at Mourne Seafood Bar.
Venture into the Giant’s Lair
Mums, dads, little boys, girls, elves and fairies will all enjoy the magic of the Giant’s Lair and Adventure Playground in the beautiful Slieve Gullion Forest Park. The Giant’s Lair children’s story trail will keep the young ones enthralled for hours, and at the end there’s a huge park with excellent adventure play equipment – just for the children, you understand.
Mill around in Annalong
Stroll around the quaint Annalong fishing harbour and marine park, then take in Annalong Corn Mill to experience the Mournes of the past. Meet the miller, see the mill’s inner workings, and follow the progress of the oats through the milling process. There’s plenty more heritage to explore, including that of the famous Mourne granite and the men who worked it.
Find your County Down ancestors
Adventures down country lanes, pondering over old headstones and listening to yarns from yesteryear can all be part of a County Down ancestor search. Plenty of local places can help. Try Banbridge Genealogy Centre, which holds 750,000 indexed records, or Bagenal's Castle in Newry,which has a reading room for local and family history research. In Kilkeel you can explore local family names at collections in the town's Nautilus Centre.
Fuel up at Olive Bizarre
Fuel up before climbing into the mountains, or unwind after a stroll along the Newcastle promenade at the famous Olive Bizarre for a indulgent afternoon tea. This retro hangout is a delicious little spot for lunch, coffee or some peace and quiet. On a nice day, a table outside to take in the sea views is perfection.
Soak in a seaweed bath
Take the girls for a treat at Newcastle’s Seaweed Baths, spa, tea rooms and apartments. With the Mountains of Mourne literally in the back garden and the sea on the other side of the road, a more idyllic location would be hard to imagine. You can soak, soothe, sip and stay – all available individually or combined as part of the Soak group experiences.
Fix something fishy
Have fun learning to cook the freshest fish and seafood right on Kilkeel harbour, the home of Northern Ireland’s largest fishing fleet. Kilkeel is the seafood capital of the Mournes; Mourne Seafood Cookery School is its master chef. Learn to buy, handle and cook seafood – and be prepared for some very fishy stories.