The Mountains of Mourne

3. Oct, 2018

Next morning we continued our drive north back to Ulster and the pretty little fishing port of Annalong, on the coast of County Down with the Mourne Mountains behind. Our site was a very smart park of static caravans, but with a dozen touring pitches right by the shore.  Being a bank holiday weekend it was very full, but there was still plenty of space.  

After lunch we walked along to the harbour and watched the boats for a while, before driving along to Newcastle to get some food in.   

That evening we went to Lesley's cousin Alasdair’s for a very nice meal, followed by a trip to his local pub for some Guinness. 

On Sunday we drove up to Lisburn to fetch Aunt Helen, then back to Newcastle for lunch with Alasdair and Sarah at a smart little café called Niki’s.  Cakes to die for – more inches on the waistline! After lunch we went for a drive up into the mountains, in search of a spot Alasdair and Helen had once been to,  called Windy Gap.  Every gap seemed windy to me, but we eventually found the right one, where the views were magnificent.  The Mountains of Mourne on one side and the coastal plain almost to Belfast on the other.  We walked up to the little sanctuary dedicated to the Mother of the Hill then back to the car for a flask of tea and cake that Alasdair had brought with him.

In the evening we all went to a pub in Dundrum for a first class meal.  From the outside the pub looked a bit humdrum for Dundrum, but inside it was smartly furnished.  Judging by the edible foam and twirls and the presentation of the food they are looking for a Michelin Star, but behind the fancy frills was a really well cooked tasty meal.

After we had driven Helen back to Lisburn we returned to the camp site for what was to be our stormiest night this trip.  The rain was lashing down and the wind was buffeting the caravan.  The caravans were rocking so much that our neighbours reported that his kids had fallen out of their bunk beds!
  
Monday was our last day in Ireland, and the morning was dull and wet.  Lesley went for a windswept walk along the shore, but did not stay out long.  What a contrast the sea was to the previous couple of days, from a flat blue to a rough grey and white.  It was a bit worrying as we would be crossing that sea the next day. 

In the afternoon it brightened a bit so we drove up to Tollymore Forest Park and walked down through the Azalea walk to the unusually named Shimna River.  We walked up the woods following the course of the torrent, hoping to cross at the stepping stones, but these were flooded.  Fortunately there are a number of bridges and we were able to cross further up and return on the far bank.

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