Explore – Down
Seaside holiday? Historical Break? Family fun? Can’t decide which to chose? Well you’re in luck, County Down has it all! Discover historical houses, endless beaches, popular seaside resorts and exciting towns and villages set against the backdrop of the amazing Mourne Mountains.
Things To Do
Many of the towns and villages in county Down are excellent bases to explore the mountains where some activity centres can be found, including Bryansford and Tollymore.
Pony trekking, canoeing, hill walking and even mountainboarding are some of the activities available. A striking avenue of Deodar cedars will welcome you into Tollymore Forest Park. Here a walk will bring you along the River Shimna where you will find several bridges, grottos and caves. This is a romantic forest park where tree lovers can find numerous forest plots. Castlewellan Forest Park is another heaven for tree and garden lovers alike. In a magical location of sea and mountain, one of the best collections of trees and shrubs can be found. The Garden is a mixture of formal and informal design, with terraces, fountains, ornamental gates and flowers. In the forest park there’s a beautiful mile long walk along the lake where you will encounter some unusual modern sculptures.
Magnificent gardens can also be found at Mount Stewart House and Gardens. This famous gardens were planted in the 1920s and are of international importance. A visit through the gardens will bring you through formal gardens of clipped topiary, statuary and exhuberant colour schemes. From the Temple of the Winds enjoy breathtaking views of Strangford Lough.
At the heart of the mountains, visitors will find the Silent Valley Reservoir, where the River Kilkeel was dammed in 1933. There are scenic walks around the grounds, a coffee shop and an interesting exhibition on the building of the dam.
The Nendrum Monastic Site, an example of pre-normand monastery dates back to the 5th century and is believed to have been set up by St. Machoi The monastery consisted o 3 round enclosures, one within the other. Signs of industrial works can be found in the outer enclosure. A sundial, a church ruin, the remains of a round tower and graveyard can be found in the central enclosure. The middle enclosure has the remains of huts and workshops.
The Victorian seaside resort of Newcastle town is located at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and set on 5 km of golden sand. It sports a modern promenade, stretching for more then a km along the seafront, complete with modern sculptures and a distinct footbridge over the River Shimna. Golfers from around the world flock to the nearby Royal County Down Golf Course. The town is also a good base for exploring Murlough National Reserve and the Mourne Mountains. At the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains lies Ireland’s first nature reserve. Murlough National Reserve is a fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National TrustGolfers, with access to one of the best beaches in the county. This is an ideal location for walking and bird watching.
Located near Kilkeel town, at the entrance to Carlingford Lough, Cranfield West Beach is another amazing beach, This south facing, mainly sandy beach boasts the superb Mourne Mountains as a backdrop.
Who says you can’t have it all?
Places to Stay
Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses
Bed and Breakfast
The immortal line of Percy French ‘Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’ could well have been written from Tyrella’s secluded private beach. Located in the heart of picturesque County Down, with its necklace of pretty ﬁshing villages, Tyrella is a ﬁne 18th century house surrounded by glorious wooded parkland with its own Polo Ground and Equestrian, Cross Country Courses all used for major competions. After a day visiting The National Trust’s Mountstewart Garden or walking on the beach come home to Tyrella’s tranquility, open ﬁres and a delicious dinner cooked by David himself an accomplished cook; a perfect romantic getaway.