Jeremy Ell­wood savours the de­lights of The Slieve Donard Re­sort and Spa right next to the fabled links at Royal County Down

Golf Monthly - - Gm Promotion -

The Golf – Royal County Down Cham­pi­onship: par 71, 6,878 yards An­nes­ley: par 66, 4,548 yards For many, Royal County Down rep­re­sents the very pin­na­cle of golf within these shores with its roller­coaster fair­ways, blind shots, beau­ti­fully nat­u­ral bunker­ing and ma­jes­tic views of the Mourne Moun­tains. It’s cer­tainly an ex­hil­a­rat­ing, and at times test­ing, place to play, as I re­dis­cov­ered on my fourth visit to the tight County Down turf. There’s al­ways an added fris­son of ex­cite­ment com­ing over the crest on the 9th and 11th to find out if your seem­ingly well-di­rected shots are, in­deed, okay. Don’t ne­glect the short An­nes­ley course ei­ther, as it’s now the proud owner of three quite stun­ning new holes in the dunes. Also play… the clifftop links at Ard­glass (ard­glass­golf­ 20 miles from New­cas­tle of­fers great views of the rugged coast­line. Ac­com­mo­da­tion – Slieve Donard On my lat­est trip I fi­nally got to stay in the el­e­gant, tur­reted red-brick build­ing that dom­i­nates the New­cas­tle sky­line. Slieve Donard Re­sort and Spa, right by the beach, started life as a rail­way ho­tel back in 1898 be­fore be­com­ing part of the Hast­ings Ho­tel group in 1972. Its Vic­to­rian grandeur and feel is now com­ple­mented by first-rate fa­cil­i­ties that in­clude a com­pre­hen­sive port­fo­lio of spa treat­ments. Din­ing op­tions range from the el­e­gance of the Oak Restau­rant to the in­for­mal­ity of the Light­house Lounge by the spa or the fa­mous Percy French Inn, named after the com­poser of the song The Moun­tains of Mourne. My only re­gret was that I only stayed for one night! Where else… switch your golf spikes for your walk­ing boots and im­merse your­self in the ruggedly spec­tac­u­lar Mourne Moun­tains (vis­it­mournemoun­ The el­e­gant Slieve Donard Re­sort and Spa

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