Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Walk of the Week: The Granite Trail

The Granite Trail offers the chance to explore artefacts from the once thriving granite industry of Mourne.

It covers a short but steep stretch from coast to open moorland, and a host of differing natural habitats can be enjoyed as you walk through coniferous forest and mature woodland beside mountain streams and rivers.

Directions

There is a car park available at Newcastle Harbour, South Promenade, Newcastle. This is on the main A2 road from Newcastle to Kilkeel. Regular buses are available to Newcastle from Belfast and Newry. The Granite Trail commences opposite Newcastle Harbour.

Starting from Newcastle Harbour, the Granite Trail leads off to Bogie Hill and up onto King Street. A sign marks the direction to commence the trail. Here sees the start of the old Bogie Line, a cleared strip of forest on a steep incline up towards Millstone Quarry.

At the top of Donard Wood and over the stile, follow the path past Millstone Mountain Quarry and onto the viewpoint near Thomas’s Mountain Quarry.

From here proceed into Donard Wood until you reach a bridge on the Glen River — cross the bridge and head downhill to another bridge. Cross the bridge and proceed downhill on the right-hand side of river until reaching a third bridge.

At this bridge, track right through Annesley Demesne. The path continues through the woodland before coming out at the road opposite a school.

Turn right, passing the Gate Lodge and continue along King Street. After approximately 200m turn left down Bath Lane following the steep steps down towards the sea.

On reaching the Main Road once more, cross over the road and turn right, following the footpath along the sea wall. A short 400m walk takes you back to the start.

the backdrop

In 1824 John Lynn opened a quarry on Millstone Mountain and laid a mineral railway line to King Street. By 1859 the railway was diverted to the then more productive quarry on Thomas’s Mountain. The Granite Trail follows the route of this funicular railway, known locally as the ‘Bogie Line’. At its busiest in the late 1800s, tens of thousands of tonnes of granite were produced here every year. By the end of the Second World War, however, the line had fallen into disuse and was dismantled. All the metal, including the trucks (bogies) used to transport the granite, was taken to Belfast for the war effort.

The Granite Trail to Thomas’s Mountain is just over 1,100 metres long but because of the steep rise you should allow approximately one and a half hours to complete this stage.

An optional return route of approximately 4 kilometres via Donard Wood and Glen River Track is available and will take between two to three hours.

Along the route of the trail, there are stunning views over Newcastle and its harbour. Additionally, there are artefacts relating to the quarrying of granite in Newcastle such as ‘slipes’, ‘bogies’ and ‘shoddy huts’, as well as information panels explaining more about the route.

To maximise the experience you should proceed to Thomas’s Quarry, follow the path to Donard Wood and descend via the Glen River to Donard Park.

A viewpoint near Thomas’s Quarry offers spectacular views of Newcastle and Dundrum Bay. On a clear day walkers will have the opportunity to see as far as the Isle of Man, Scrabo Tower, St John’s Lighthouse, Slieve Croob and the town of Castlewellan.

The Granite Trail offers widely differing natural habitat and gives the opportunity to see a broad range of bird, plant and animal life. The ubiquitous wrens and robins populate the shrubs and trees, while fallow deer may occasionally be encountered hiding in the bracken.

further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please 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: The Granite Trail.

Area: Mourne and Slieve Croob Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Nearest big town to start point: Newcastle.

Distance: 3 miles, circular.

Terrain: There are some steep steps at beginning of walk with gravel and worn grass paths for the remainder.

Access Restrictions: This trail may close from time to time to facilitate forestry and other essential operations such as quarrying at Thomas’s Mountain. Contact Newcastle Tourist Information Office, tel: 028 4372 2222, for more information.

Refreshments: Wide range of eateries to suit all tastes in Newcastle.

Publications: The Granite Trail, Newcastle. You can pick up a copy of this at Newcastle Tourist Information Centre, tel: 028 4372 2222.

Walk Developed By: Down District Council in conjunction with Newcastle Harbour Area Community Association.

Map: The Mournes: Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, available from LPSNI Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk) or Mourne Heritage Trust Office, 87 Central Promenade, Newcastle BT33 0HH (Monday to Friday 9am–5pm).

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