Looking for some quality time together this summer? You’ll find lots of inspiration and hidden gems in Northern Ireland. Why not explore the beauty and hidden gems surrounding the Mourne Mountains, uncover the brand new food trail, explore the magical Mountains that inspired CS Lewis’ Narnia, enjoy romantic beach walks and treat yourself to a 4* Hotel break. From the slopes of Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, the glorious Mourne Mountains are a giant’s carpet that really does ‘sweep down to the sea’. Check out our guide to taking a short break in the Mournes this summer:
No visit to County Down this summer would be complete without a trip to the popular seaside resort of Newcastle and walk along the stunning Murlough Beach at the foot of the Mourne mountains. Check into the 4* Slieve Donard Resort and Spa for a luxury break for two, enjoy some pampering treatments in the spa and tuck in to some top class cuisine in Resort restaurant. This Magnificent 115 year old Victorian Resort is the perfect spot for a couples break – and has the world class Royal County Down Golf Course right on it’s door step if you fancy a spot of golf.
On the shores of Carlingford Lough, the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails offer some challenging mountain biking where efforts are rewarded with incredible coastal views and exhilarating singletrack descents. With a mouth watering 27km red trail and a hair raising 19km black trail Rostrevor is believed by many to be the top spot for mountain biking in Ireland. When you add not just one but two purpose-built downhill trails to the mix, there’s no denying it… Rostrevor is a mountain bikers’ haven!
For food fans, why get to know all about the wonderful local produce on the Mourne Food Cycle Trail. The ‘Mourne Foods Cycle Trail’ has been devised by the Enniskeen Country House hotel, in association with local food producers to showcase the wonderful artisan food in the area and offer visitors an active way to explore a food trail. The Trail offers visitors a self-guided tour by bicycle, with gentle cycling either downhill or on flat ground – electric bikes are available too.
Hands on experiences
You’ll find plenty of hands-on experiences during your break, why not stop off at the in Kilkeel; the ‘Seafood capital of the Mournes’ for a cookery class in The Mourne Seafood Cookery School . The state of the art cookery school located in the Nautilus Centre, with panoramic views of Kilkeel harbour. For those seafood lovers this is an ideal way to learn more about what to look for when buying, handling and cooking seafood. It is aimed to be a fun, relaxed, learning experience. And not to mention the Festival of Fish, which is held in August, visitors can enjoy delightfully fresh seafood, menus with a festive twist, competitions and much more. The festival takes place in Annalong, Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie, all of which are character-filled little fishing villages making this festival a must-see for seafood fans.
Lose yourself at Castlewellan
Located in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, Castlewellan Forest Park is one of the most outstanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The garden is a mixture of informal and formal design with terraces, fountains, ornamental gates and flower borders. To walk around the forest park’s mile-long lake, encountering some intriguing modern sculptures on the way, is to enjoy a great experience of eighteenth-century landscaping. The forest park’s latest attraction, the Peace Maze, is one of Europe’s largest permanent hedges maze representing the path to a peaceful future for Northern Ireland. Planted in 2000 with community involvement, it is maturing quickly and visitors attempt to solve their way to the peace bell in the centre of the maze. This is definitely one for the kids – a great way to spend an afternoon.
County down is full of hidden gems and great stop off points. Why not explore the Mournes Coastal Route – a great way to see the sights and magnificent views of the area. The route covers many of County Down’s picturesque villages including Newcastle, the charming fishing village of Annalong, Warrenpoint, kilkeel where Northern Ireland’s biggest trawling fleet is based and many more. The route also takes you along the beautiful shores of Carlingford Lough. Why not finish off your scenic drive with a stop off in the quaint village of Dundrum for a spot of dinner the Mourne Seafood Bar. There’s plenty of picture perfect moments along the way – so don’t forget your camera.
Fresh Seafood, fresh air, Stunning Coasts and mountain views – what more could you want from a short break this summer! And you’ll find lots more ideas on what to do in the Mournes here: discovernorthernireland.com/mournes
Short breaks start from only £49 per room.