Newry to Newcastle
Real mountains at last! This is a stunningly beautiful stage – The Mountains of Mourne rise from sea level to dominate the landscape of South Down. There is no easy way to traverse this part of the County. These were the first mountains since I set off from the One Stones on Mount Leinster so I looked forward to more hardship on this 48 kms long stage!
The options are to take the coastal road all the way around but that is unnecessarily long; take the road to Mayobridge and Hilltown but this road is narrow and busy or try find a route through the hills with little traffic.
The best option was to take the coast road out through Warrenpoint as far as Rostrevor and head straight up Church Road onto Kilbroney Road and after just less than 1km take a right onto another local road for another 11 kms. Take a right at the t-junction on the Hilltown to Spelga Dam road. There is a fair pull for the next 5 kms to Spelga but at least you avoid the busy main road – and you get the most spectacular views. Take the next left and this road continues for about 7 kms where it joins the main Hilltown to Newcastle road. Bonus is most of this is downhill!
I made a mistake on the day I was doing this section – weather was miserable and I just kept pedalling so didn’t quite follow the description above!