Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Walk of the Week: Ring of Gullion — Marble Bridge to Forkhill

This linear route follows off-road trails and quiet country lanes around the volcanic landscape of the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Along its route ancient monuments and quiet villages can be discovered, offering walkers a chance to explore exceptional countryside rich in geology, archaeology, wildlife and folklore.

Directions

The Carrickdale Hotel is located approximately five miles north of Dundalk and four miles south of Newry, Co Down.

At the car park, turn right. A tunnel at the Carrickdale Hotel aids crossing the busy Dublin to Newry Road (A1). Continue uphill to the village of Jonesborough. Follow the Kilnasaggart Road for approximately 2km, where a detour can be made to visit the Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone and Moyry Castle.

The Ring of Gullion Way skirts along the Carrickbroad Road and the Carewamean Road to the forest section at Glendooey. From there, a series of disused paths and forestry tracks leads to the Tievecrom Road and the ascent of Tievecrom Mountain towards the ruined turret.

Cross the stile, follow the harvesting tracks to the junction with The Captains Road and turn right to the Carrickastickan Road. Waymarkers lead along Woods Lane across a footbridge to Urney Graveyard and Forkhill.

The backdrop

The Ring of Gullion is rich in folklore and mythology and Slieve Gullion has often been described as Ireland’s most mythic mountain. Stories of Finn McCool, Cu Chulainn, Oisin and the Fianna have survived for years. It was thought that the young Irish hero Cu Chulainn had his residence on the slopes of the mountain and in the most epic of all tales, Tain Bo Cuailgne (the Cattle Raid of Cooley), the infamous brown bull was captured there.

In more recent folklore, cures and pilgrimage have been attached to Holy wells and early Christian sites such as the St Moninna’s Well at Killevy, Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone near Jonesborough and Urney Graveyard near Forkhill.

The Ring of Gullion Way directly passes nine state care monuments and many other raths, graveyards and lesser-known monuments. A field guide to the archaeology of the area, entitled The Gap of the North, is available from local shops.

The pillar at Kilnasaggart is perhaps the oldest dated cross-carved stone in Ireland, having been inscribed some time around 700AD. An old Irish inscription on the eastern face has been interpreted as ‘this place, bequeathed by Ternohc, son of Ceran the Little (died 714-6AD) under the patronage of Peter the apostle’.

Lord Mountjoy secured the Moyry Padd in 1600 and erected a three-storey tower and surrounding bawn. The castle was completed in June 1601.

Jonesborough is a linear settlement with a range of community and retail facilities. The character of the area is strongly enhanced by features such as dry stone walls and distinctive field patterns.

Urney Graveyard in Dungooley is the last resting place of the poet Peadar O'Doirnan.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.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.

Walk Name: Ring of Gullion — Marble Bridge to Forkhill.

Area: Ring of Gullion.

Nearest big town to start point: Newry.

Distance: 13.8 km / 8.8 miles.

Terrain: Off-road trails and quiet lanes.

Access Restrictions: Care is needed on the A1 Newry–Dublin Road.

Refreshments: Refeshments, shops, car parks and toilets in Jonesborough and Forkhill.

Walk Developed By: This walk has been developed by the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN).

Map: Sheets 28 & 29 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk).

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