Warrenpoint to Newcastle
Day two of your travels through Slieve Gullion and the Mourne Mountains will see you explore the stunning Mourne Coastal Route. Beginning in Warrenpoint and ending in the popular coastal town of Newcastle, this trip will take you through the heart of the Mourne Mountains while also enabling you to explore Northern Ireland’s rugged South East coastline.
Begin in Warrenpoint
Begin the Mourne Coastal Route in the seaside town of Warrenpoint, where the Clanrye River and Newry Canal open into Carlingford Lough. Previously it served as a busy harbour town with a thriving timber port, Warrenpoint has one of the busiest ports in Ireland, while the town itself offers amazing views of the towns of Omeath and Carlingford, and the wider Cooley Peninsula.
On the outskirts of Warrenpoint you will find Narrow Water Castle dating back to 1568. Take a walk along the towns promenade finishing up in the town square a popular place for markets in the past. Head deeper into Mourne country as you enter the town Rostrevor next, home of Kilbroney Forest Park.
Entering the Mournes at Rostrevor
Situated along the shores of Carlingford Lough is the quiet village of Rostrevor. There is no shortage of walks to stop off and enjoy as you drive along the Mourne Coastal Route, with Rostrevor Forest and Kilbroney Park both worth visiting. Indeed, Kilbroney Park is home to Northern Ireland’s biggest and best mountain bike trails, and attracts adrenaline junkies and mountain bike enthusiasts across the year. The highlight of the calendar is the annual Red Bull Fox Chase, so if you’re into your mountain biking, be sure to stop by at Kilbroney. You can hire bikes and cycling equipment in the forest.
Other highlights in Rostrevor include the Cloughmore Stone situated high up in Kilbroney Forest, St Bronagh’s church which dates back to the 6th century and Giant Murphy’s Cave. From Rostrevor, you can drive through part of the Mournes and head to the small village of Hilltown, or continue along the coastal road towards the town of Kilkeel.
The fishing town of Kilkeel
The busy fishing town of Kilkeel is worth a visit, especially if you can get along early in the morning to watch the freshly caught fish being unloaded of the local fishing trawlers. While in Kilkeel look out for Kilfeaghan Dolman a Neolithic portal tomb believed to be 5000 years old. Its capstone is said to be the biggest in Ireland.
If you wish to learn more about the local fishing industry then call into The Nautilus Centre and Mourne Maritime Visitor Centre located nearby.
Located around the Mourne Mountains, granite plays a big part in another popular industry within the town. The coastal route and Mourne Wall (in the Mourne Mountains) have been crafted over the years by skilled stonemasons, showcasing the wonderful granite synonymous with the Mourne area. The stone ditches along the coastal and country roads provide a great backdrop for many wonderful photo opportunities as you drive the Mourne Coastal Route.
When leaving Kilkeel look out for Cranfield beach, a great spot for an afternoon stroll with views overlooking the neighbouring Greencastle. There is also an 18 hole golf course situated in gorgeous parkland grounds in Kilkeel. Next stop, the popular village of Annalong.
Stop off in Annalong
Annalong is a picturesque village, and like Kilkeel has a deep heritage as a local fishing hotspot. Enjoy the stunning coastal and mountainous scenery as you enjoy this beautiful part of Northern Ireland countryside. The villages Marine Park offers a unique combination of facilities to enable visitors to have a comfortable and relaxing day out. Annalong’s Cornmill is now central to the village’s thriving tourist offering with tours and sessions at various stages of the week.
The Cornmill was built in the early 1800s and operated until the 1960s. Before closing, it was one of the last working watermills in Northern Ireland. The building contains many of the original features and components and is open to the public to view the inner workings that benefited many farmers at the time.
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down by the sea
The day ends in Newcastle at the foot of the Mourne Mountains. Famous in a song from Percy French, the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea in the popular seaside town of Newcastle. Whether you want to take some time exploring the Mourne Mountains and climbing Slieve Donard (Northern Ireland’s highest mountain), or teeing off at one of the worlds best golf courses at Royal Co. Down, Newcastle is a hub of activity and events across the year. One of the tourist hotspots in County Down, Newcastle is home to many popular events across the year, so be sure to check out what’s on before planning your trip.
Take a walk along the towns promenade as you walk up towards the harbour. You’ll have plenty of opportunities along the way to stop in for food and drink, and Newcastle is also a town with a bustling nightlife. A great way to call it a night with views of the Mourne Mountains and the sun setting over the Isle of Man as you look out at the Irish Sea.