A walk on the wild side

Ex­pe­ri­ence the Mourne Coastal Route for a fam­ily break to re­mem­ber

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL -

Even as win­ter gets into its stride, North­ern Ire­land abounds with chances to ex­plore, ap­pre­ci­ate and en­gage with wild and beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral places. So for fam­i­lies for whom clos­ing the cur­tains and curl­ing up at the fire­place is not an op­tion, it’s still very much game on this Jan­uary. Why not plan for some fam­ily fun around the Mourne Coastal Route? It’s a fab­u­lous place to climb hills, ride bikes, walk the beaches and en­joy na­ture what­ever the weather.

An ex­cel­lent base for ex­plor­ing the king­dom of Mourne will be the four-star Green Hol­i­day Cot­tages. Lo­cated just out­side the busy fish­ing town of Kil­keel, this newly ren­o­vated 18th-cen­tury corn and flax mill of­fers a choice of three lovely cot­tages sleep­ing from four to six. All have top-notch fam­ily-friendly fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing one built with wheel­chair users in mind. With your out­stand­ing place to stay se­cured, now it’s time to get out and about in this spec­tac­u­lar part of the world.

To get close to na­ture, it has to be the fantastic Kil­broney For­est Park, which you can en­ter 20 min­utes away in the vil­lage of Rostrevor. With miles of good walk­ing trails to try, the fam­ily can stroll the easy foot­paths along the Kil­broney River and through the Fairy Glen at the lower level, or un­der­take the worth­while climb to the Clough­more Stone, which sits 1,000 ft above Rostrevor. Ge­ol­o­gists ex­plain the pres­ence of this 50-tonne stone as a rem­nant from the last ice age. The lo­cals will tell you it was Finn McCool who threw it over from the other side of Car­ling­ford Lough. Ei­ther way, stand be­side this mas­sive rock and feel like a gi­ant view­ing the waters be­low, the sur­round­ing Mourne Moun­tains and the nat­u­ral world in all its splen­dour.

Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia writer CS Lewis spent a lot of hol­i­day time in the Mournes, and Rostrevor in par­tic­u­lar, al­low­ing him to imag­ine, dream and won­der. Per­fect for chil­dren of all ages, his Nar­nia sto­ries are brought to life in a short looped fam­ily trail through the wood­land at Kil­broney. Aptly, the trail be­gins by step­ping through a wardrobe.

Fam­i­lies can also break out the moun­tain bikes at Kil­broney for some high-oc­tane ad­ven­ture, al­lied to the stun­ning views and scenery. As one of the top spots in Ire­land for moun­tain bik­ing, there will be thrills aplenty for ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers. The less ex­pe­ri­enced can hook up with Clough­more Ex­treme Ad- RUGGED BEAUTY: ven­tures for some tai­lored MTB coach­ing ses­sions, or can also take on some dare­devil rock climb­ing, archery or even horse rid­ing.

For gen­tler cy­cling and walk­ing out­door ex­pe­ri­ences the fam­ily could ven­ture over to Newry and, be­fore or after ex­plor­ing the town, take in a stretch of the mostly flat and off-road Newry Canal Way.

After a day in na­ture, you can re­fuel with a well-earned fam­ily meal at the foot of the moun­tains in Rostrevor, where the Rostrevor Inn will serve up de­li­cious food in a charm­ing tra­di­tional bar and sta­bles area. Al­ter­na­tively, head back to Kil­morey Arms Ho­tel in Kil­keel.

Slieve Gul­lion For­est Park

They call Slieve Gul­lion a ‘moun­tain of mys­tery’ and mums, dads and kids will all en­joy the magic of this beau­ti­ful for­est park com­plete with gi­ant’s lair and ad­ven­ture play­ground. Awash with an­cient myth and le­gend, there is more than enough to keep the chil­dren en­thralled for hours, while the court­yard and cof­fee shop will please the adults.

The Mourne Moun­tains

Fam­i­lies will rel­ish a climb, hike, walk or leisurely am­ble in this vast nat­u­ral play­ground, build­ing mem­o­ries among the breath­tak­ing views and pris­tine air. A haven for all kinds With all of its seafood sourced from the town har­bour less than a mile away, a truly au­then­tic taste of Co Down awaits.

There is no short­age of things to en­joy on a drive around the Mourne Coastal Route. Look out for Cran­field Beach, great for a crisp Jan­uary af­ter­noon stroll. Also a few min­utes’ drive away is the Silent Val­ley. Lap up the peace and soli­tude on the scenic walks around the moun­tain park, then drop in to the res­tau­rant for a cof­fee and a look around. Pure nat­u­ral fam­ily fun time. Visit www.dis­cov­er­north­ernire­land.com of ad­ven­tur­ers and re­lax­ation seek­ers, the Mournes of­fer an ex­pe­ri­ence of the great out­doors at its most scenic.

War­ren­point Golf Club

Golf­ing mem­bers of the fam­ily will be drawn like a mag­net to this at­trac­tive 18-hole park­land course sur­rounded by the Mourne Moun­tains on one side and Car­ling­ford Lough on the other. It’s ranked one of the best in North­ern Ire­land and with three par fives within the first four holes, there are scor­ing chances early on. The well-stocked res­tau­rant and bar will be a wel­come sight after your round.

An­swer:

Not much, I’m afraid. First, a re­minder of what the Eu­ro­pean Health In­sur­ance Card (EHIC) pro­vides. The Eu­ro­pean Union says: “If you fall ill or have an ac­ci­dent dur­ing a visit to an EU coun­try, as an EU cit­i­zen you have the right to re­ceive the nec­es­sary pub­lic health­care in any EU coun­try un­der the same con­di­tions as peo­ple in the host coun­try.”

It also works in Iceland, Nor­way, Switzer­land and plucky Liecht­en­stein.

Treat­ment is “at a re­duced cost or, in many cases, free of charge”, says the NHS.

From 11pm GMT on March 29, 2019, when the UK ceases to part of the EU, Bri­tish trav­ellers will have no au­to­matic right to use the EHIC, and there is no cer­tainty about what may re­place it.

In the White Pa­per on the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with Europe, the Govern­ment says it wants “UK and EU na­tion­als to con­tinue to be able to use the Eu­ro­pean Health In­sur­ance Card to re­ceive health­care”.

Ques­tions and an­swers in the House of Lords on Novem­ber 1 pro­vided a few hints about what might hap­pen.

Lord Bates, a ju­nior min­is­ter at DfID, said: “The im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod means that trav­ellers can rely on ar­range­ments cur­rently in place un­til De­cem­ber 2020.”

So, if the UK ex­its with a with­drawal deal in place, it ap­pears the EHIC will con­tinue to pro­vide cover for a fur­ther 21 months.

What about no deal? As the NHS Eu­ro­pean Of­fice says, tech­ni­cal no­tices pub­lished by the Govern­ment for a no-deal exit do not cover “suc­ces­sor ar­range­ments to the EHIC or ar­range­ments for ac­cess to lo­cal health­care for UK ex­pats liv­ing or work­ing in an EU mem­ber state”.

But Lord Bates said: “The Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion has hinted that it recog­nises that it is in its in­ter­ests that (re­cip­ro­cal health care agree­ments) should con­tinue. The only thing miss­ing is a clear state­ment from the com­mis­sion that that is its in­tent, and that is what we want.”

In other words, we don’t know.

the Clough­more Stone, a 50-tonne gran­ite boul­der, lies on the Slieve Martin Moun­tain Ridge ap­prox­i­mately 1,000 ft above Rostrevor vil­lage, (be­low). Be­low right, the Silent Val­ley

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