As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had the chance to escape to the country a few weeks ago, thankfully on a weekend when the sun shone pretty much the whole time ! I thought I would share some pictures of the beautiful place we stayed in, Birch Cottage, an off grid self catering cottage located on an organic smallholding near the Mourne Mountains in County Down, about 6 miles or so from the town of Castlewellan.
After an hour’s drive from Belfast, we arrived at the cottage late on a Friday afternoon. Pulling up into the driveway, we were greeted by a stunning view across the fields to the Mourne Mountains in the distance.
After quickly unpacking, we stepped outside to explore our immediate surroundings – beautiful countryside and peace and quiet – just the sound of birdsong from the hedgerows and the horses softly whinnying in the field adjacent to the cottage.
Next morning, I woke early, around 6:30 am or so, eager to take a few pictures as the sun came up. I made myself some coffee and opened the cottage door to say good morning to the horses and take in the beautiful views all over again. It was a cool, crisp morning..the grass covered in a light frosting, a haze resting over the Mournes. It was heavenly.
After breakfast we set out to explore the local birch woodland…just a short walk away and the source of wood fuel for heating both Birch Cottage and the owner’s home which is next door. Their woodland is part of an ethos of living sustainably and lightly on the land. The site generates all its own electricity, has a vegetable garden and is home to some lively chickens, as well as a dog and two cats.
Later that day we took a drive into Newcastle for lunch. With the sun shining, the town was packed with daytrippers and after a while, I was eager to return to the cottage to enjoy the peace and quiet and take a closer look at the vegetable garden.
I sat outside on the grass to enjoy a glass of wine and read my book where I was joined by one of the cats, who was quite happy to get a tummy rub and pose for some photographs.
While the cat and I were enjoying the sun’s rays on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, a willow class was taking place next door. All the participants were outside learning how to make willow obelisks – it looked like good fun and a chance to learn a new skill. Secretly, though, I think one or two of the ladies might have preferred chilling in the sun with a glass of wine like me !
The cottage is finished using natural, locally sourced materials and is kept warm by the power of the sun. In the cooler months, the heating needs a little boost from the wood burning stove and as the sun went down, we retired indoors where hubby lit the fire. The cottage is comfortable and cosy and we whiled away the evening listening to the radio (there is no TV) and enjoying a few glasses of wine.
All in all, a truly wonderful and inspiring experience, filled with fresh air, sunshine and beautiful scenery – a real chance to unwind, relax and recharge after the long winter months. I could not recommend this place highly enough !
For more information, you can visit the lovely Birch Cottage website which gives you more details about the cottage and things to do in the local area.