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Break for the border: Spectacular sights around the Mournes, Carlingford Lough and beyond

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Silent Valley in the Mournes. Picture: Tourism Ireland

Silent Valley in the Mournes. Picture: Tourism Ireland

Silent Valley in the Mournes. Picture: Tourism Ireland

Head east and feast your eyes on some spectacular sights around the Mournes and Carlingford Lough.

Visit Greater Newry’ is now promoting Newry City, South Armagh, South Down and Carlingford Lough as a combined staycation destination. Here’s why the area is worth checking out:

1. Historic sites

Half way between Belfast and Dublin, the Newry area is packed with castles and ancient monuments going back centuries. Walking in the footsteps of St. Patrick, centuries of Viking raids and Norman invasions, through to the Troubles and Brexit, the border landscape is fascinating. Make your first stop at Bagenal’s Castle for an authentic start to your journey; it also houses a Tourist Information Centre.

2. Still here

If you are looking for an authentic food and drink experience, Killowen is one of Ireland’s smallest distilleries, producing whiskey, gin and (legally made) poitin. Cooley has a distillery too – book a tour in advance. Whitewater Brewery, near Castlewellan, has a Tap House where you can taste its craft beer.

3. Shop well

Greater Newry is the perfect blend between city, coast and countryside. Shop at independent retailers or for big names visit he Buttercrane or The Quays shopping centres or The Boulevard near Banbridge. For nights out, there’s the Bridge Bar, Brass Monkey and quirky gin bar Ginger Janes. The interior is a work of art.

Coffee culture is alive and well with places like Finegan and Son, Grounded and Maya Café Company while vegetarian cafe Strandfield on the Cooley Peninsula is popular with walkers and cyclists.

4. Go coastal

Carlingford Lough offers one of the most scenic coastal routes on the island. The ferry service between Greenore and Greencastle creates a stunning loop drive which can include stop offs at Flagstaff Viewpoint, Omeath, Carlingford, Kilkeel, Newcastle, Cranfield Beach, Rostrevor and Warrenpoint, all in a day.

There are countless fantastic restaurants along the route including well-known names like the Whistledown Hotel in Warrenpoint, Fitzpatricks’ in Cooley and PJ O’Hare’s in Carlingford.

5. Natural beauty

The region has no fewer than three areas of outstanding natural beauty and numerous forest parks. For families, the Narnia Experience in Kilbroney, Giant’s Lair at Slieve Gullion, Tollymore and Castlewellan are must-visit locations. Silent Valley Reservoir is a top spot while the less well known Camlough Lake is a hidden gem in South Armagh.

6. Get active

Greater Newry offers so much for the active traveller. The Mournes, Cooley Mountains and Ring of Gullion are a paradise for walkers. If water sports are your thing, there are a host of options on Carlingford Lough including paddle boarding, banana boats, sailing and windsurfing. East Coast Adventure Centre in Rostrevor and Carlingford Adventure, including a Sky Park, have a range of activities to suit families, corporate trips and hens/stag parties.

For thrill seekers, Formula Karting has one of the largest, fastest and challenging race circuits in the world, and Rostrevor, one of the leading mountainbike trails in Ireland.

There are more than a dozen golf courses in the region to suit every golfer’s taste and budget, from the magnificent Royal County Down to hidden gems like Kilkeel and Cloverhill in South Armagh waiting to be played.

For further information, find Visit Greater Newry on Facebook

Belfast Telegraph