Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Take a cycle around the stunning Ring of Gullion

By Linda Stewart

This route sets off from the historic city of Newry to connect with the Newry Canal Cycle Trail.

Once outside Newry it follows minor country roads, passing by a whole host of historic sites, archaeological monuments and stunning scenery within the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Directions

The trail starts outside Newry Town Hall between Sugar Island and Hill Street. The location can be accessed from the Trevor Hill and Water Street Junction, which is the main route running north-south from the Belfast Road to the Dublin Road. There is long-stay parking behind the Courthouse in New Street, which can also be accessed from Sugar Island. A short cycle will lead you to the Town Hall.

From Newry Town Hall cycle 30m along the west side of the canal and turn left on to Sugar Island. Follow on to Canal Street and follow the A28 using the cycle lane for one mile until the Five Ways roundabout. Turn left on the A1 and immediately turn right on to the Craigmore Road.

Follow the road for 0.8 miles until arriving at a T-Junction with Kidds Road. Turn left, passing over the crossroads with the B113 for 0.8 miles, until the T-Junction with Derrymore Road. Turn right and then left in to Derrymore after 100m. Continue on the off-road trail and turn left at the junction in front of Derrymore House.

This leads to the Newry Road (A25). Turn left and immediately right on to the Limekiln Road. Follow the road around until a T-junction with the Carrivekeeney Road. Turn right and follow the road for one mile on to Church Rock and in to Camlough. Turn left on to Keggall Road with Cam Lough on the right hand side for three miles until Murrays Corner.

Turn right on to Church Road until the T-junction with Ballintemple Road with Killeavy Church is immediately in front. Turn left and continue past Clonlum Cairn for one and a half miles to the crossroads with Wood Road. Here you will turn right in to Slieve Gullion Forest Park and the Courtyard, which is the finishing point for this cycle.

The Backdrop

The Newry canal connected Lough Neagh (via the River Bann) to the town of Newry and then through the Newry ship canal to Carlingford Lough and the Irish Sea. The canal, opened in 1742, had become largely derelict by 1939 and was formally abandoned in 1949.

The Ring of Gullion is a unique geological landform (a ring dyke) not found anywhere else in the British Isles. The heather-clad bulk of Slieve Gullion mountain lies at the centre of the Slieve Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which takes its name from the encircling ring of lower rugged hills.

Derrymore House, owned by the National Trust, is an elegant 18th-century thatched cottage with a peculiar gentrified vernacular style. The Act of Union between Britain and Ireland was drafted in the drawing room of Derrymore House in 1800. The Treaty Room is open for tours on very limited dates only — please phone the National Trust for details.

Camlough is a small, vibrant village on the outskirts of Newry. Amid these mountains is the beautiful Cam Lough, a glacial ribbon lake and Area of Special Scientific Interest.

Clonlum South Burial Cairn is located to the east of Slieve Gullion and believed to be the remains of an important megalithic tomb. The cairn shows signs of the transition between the court tomb builders and the portal tomb builders and is thought to date from around 2,000BC. It is also thought that this tomb depleted in the early 19th Century when its stones were used to build Killevy Castle.

Further information

For further information on cycling or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) tel: 028 9030 3930 or cycleni.com.

CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

Cycle Name: Newry to Slieve Gullion Courtyard.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Ring of Gullion.

Nearest big town to start point: Newry.

Distance: 10 miles linear.

Terrain: On public roads.

Traffic: Most of this route is on quiet country lanes. There is a cycle lane on the A28 out of Newry. Take care when crossing the busy A1 dual carriageway just past the Fiveways Roundabout and the A25 South of Derrymore House. The Newry Canal Towpath is a shared use path and can be busy at times.

Refreshments and Facilities: There are full facilities available in Newry, plus a number of shops, pubs and refreshments in Bessbrook and Camlough. |There are also refreshments and toilet facilities available at Slieve Gullion Courtyard.

Publications: Information Sheet — National Cycle Network Route 9 Newry to Slieve Gullion Courtyard

Cycle Developed By: Sustrans UK.

Map: Sheet 29 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk)

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