Heading along the coast from Newcastle in a northeasterly direction, we come to a narrow channel leading into Dundrum Bay. The route takes in Murlough National NatureReserve owned by the National Trust. A boarded walkway leads to a wide sandy beach backed by dunes, with sensational views of the Mourne Mountains. The animal life on the reserve includes rabbits and pigmy shrews, and common and grey seals can sometimes be seen hauling themselves onto the beach.
The small town of Dundrum lies on the west shore of the bay, which is dominated by the ruined Dundrum Castle. The castle is believed to have been built in 1177 by the Anglo-Norman knight John de Courcy, just after he invaded Ulster. A National Trust car park to the north of Dundrum marks the start of the 2.5 Km Dundrum Coastal Path, which follows a disused railway line and forms part of the longer Lecale Way. The path takes in a variety of habitats supporting birdlife, for example saltmarsh and marshy tall herb stands. Dundrum Inner Bay is visited by wildfowl and waders in winter, while Green Island in Dundrum Inner Bay attracts oystercatchers, lapwing, redshank and curlew.
The S. S. Great Britain, which we last met in her final resting place in Bristol, ran aground in Dundrum Bay in 1846 during one of her voyages to New York, an accident which caused her engines to be ruined. She was refloated, but the expense of the operation forced her owners to sell her to Gibbs Bright and Company, who put her to work on the Australian run.
|Murlough Beach. Photo by Laureljade, via Wikimedia Commons|