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Walking in Northern Ireland by Northern Ireland. Tourist Board

By Northern Ireland. Tourist Board

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The proposed canal had to climb a ridge just south of the village of Scarva, which acts as a natural watershed, rivers to the south flowing to Carlingford Lough and those to the north flowing towards Lough Neagh. This ridge lies some 24m above sea level. An intricate system of 14 locks was eventually installed, and a lough near the watershed maintained the water level in the canal. It was a feat of groundbreaking engineering, and the canal is the first summit level 25070 MAKEUP 28/2/07 08:25 Page 45 walk… Newry Canal Above left: Moneypenny’s Lock, Portadown Above right: Mouth of Newry Canal, looking toward Warrenpoint and the Mournes A short distance outside Portadown the path brings you to the Point of Whitecoat, where the Rivers Bann and Cusher merge.

It’s not far now to the village of Dundrum, dominated by de Courcy’s Castle. The final stage takes you into Murlough National Nature Reserve, a 5,000-year-old dune system of international importance. There’s a choice of routes through the reserve; you can either follow the paths through the extensive heath and grassland, or stay on the beach. The reserve is a great place to visit in its own right for a couple of hours of walking – see page 23. The Lecale Way finishes by taking you along Newcastle Beach, with the magnificent dome of Slieve Donard and the promenade of Newcastle town beckoning you on to the finish.

The coastal path ends near St Patrick’s Well, which is marked by a wooden cross and enclosure. Quiet roads then lead into Ardglass, a lovely fishing village founded by the Normans and still centred around a deep natural harbour. Ardglass, or the village of Killough a short distance further along the coast, make a perfect place to stop for the night. From Killough the Lecale Way heads south along the Killough Coastal Path to reach St John’s Point, resplendent with its striking black-and-yellow-striped lighthouse.

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