Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor Forest, Warrenpoint and Derrymore, Wednesday 4 August

Written by Mike

A quiet use-car-less, staying very local to our cottage and exploring the area day today – so lots of walking, some incredible views of Carlingford Lough, eating ice creams (doggies) and sorbet (humans) and a we came across a sobering memorial.

First stop Kilbroney Park near Rostrevor – an enormous area of mountain woodland overlooking Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Mountains. It was a country estate owned by the queen mother’s family – the Bowes-Lyons. Apparently, the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret holidayed here in 1937. Charles Dickens visited, too as well as Seamus Heaney and it’s rumoured to have been the inspiration for C S Lewis’ Narnia. Now it belongs to the local council, so we can all enjoy it.

We walked through the trees to find the Cloughmore Stone – it’s at 1,000 feet (300 m) and it’s a 30-tonne glacial erratic – probably carried in a glacier from what is now Scotland – that was left behind after the glacier melted. The views from the stone were incredible and we spent ages up there.

According to local legend the stone was thrown by a giant called Finn Mac Cool during a fight with another giant. The other giant made Lough Neagh when he picked up a handful of earth to throw at Finn Mac Cool, missed, and landed in the Irish Sea and it became the Isle of Man.

After we’d come down from the mountain, we walked along a lovely path beside Carlingford Lough into Warrenpoint – a pretty town with a big square and at least two ice cream parlours. Hard to resist. When we’d been driving on the road from Newry into Warrenpoint earlier in the week, we’d passed a ruined castle just outside Warrenpoint and we decided to get a closer look. It was a bit of a mistake – the main road wasn’t particularly nice walking and when we arrived at Narrow Point Castle it was closed… and we had to walk back.

Just by the castle a row of wreaths commemorating the Warrenpoint massacre, when 18 British soldiers were killed in an ambush by the IRA in 1979 – the deadliest attack on the British Army during the Troubles.

We went back for the car and went into Newry – we needed to find a printshop because Matthew had forgotten his parkrun barcode – which we’ll need on Saturday morning after we get off the boat. [EDIT: we didn’t need it – parkrun was cancelled ☹]. Just outside Newry was Derrymore Demesne – a lovely 1770s house and landscape owned by the National Trust.

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