Last weekend hubby and I got the chance to escape to a gorgeous little cottage for the weekend. Situated deep in the hills of County Down, it was the perfect base to explore this lovely part of the world and while we were there we stopped off to take a walk along the beach at Murlough.
The beach is part of the Murlough National Nature Reserve – a 6000 year old sand dune system which has been owned and managed by the National Trust since 1967. It is located just outside of Newcastle, one of Northern Ireland’s main seaside resorts and is approximately an hour’s drive from Belfast. Up until now, though, I had never actually visited Murlough, despite having driven past the signpost many times before !
The beach is accessed via a boardwalked path through the sand dunes and I was to discover that the sand dunes at Murlough are the best and most extensive example of dune heath within Ireland. They are home to hundreds of species of butterflies and moths and as we observed, full of rabbit warrens (although the rabbits were very shy that day and we didn’t see a single one!)
Perhaps the loveliest discovery, though, was the panoramic view that awaited us when we reached the beach..that of the Mountains of Mourne sweeping down to the sea in the distance. Even on a greyish Sunday morning, it was really rather stunning.
We enjoyed a good long walk along the beach, taking in the view and getting some much needed sea air. Plenty of other people had had the same idea, but as this is the longest beach in County Down there was more than enough room for everyone including the dogs !
Feeling sufficiently weather beaten and having overdosed on sea air, we returned back to our car along the boardwalk. The yellow gorse you see in the picture below is out in abundance everywhere at the moment, and it’s lovely coconut smell was hanging heavy in the air as we walked by.
As it turned out, Murlough was a lovely spot to visit. We paid £5 to park at the on site car park which is of a good size. And you receive a handy map which gives you details of the different trails you can follow and things of interest to look out for. There are also toilets and a lovely cafe. Dogs are welcome too so long as they are kept on a lead – always a plus point in my book. For more information, you can visit the National Trust website.
ps More to follow on the beautiful cottage we stayed in …I think you will like it as much as we did !