The Coastal Path is hugely important for the access it affords visitors to an otherwise generally inaccessible coastline. The path runs from the rocky coastline of Dundrum Bay to the lower slopes of the Mourne mountains linking them to the sea.
The clear watered Bloody Bridge river, together with the mountains, make this a striking landscape.
Excellent views can be had across Dundrum Bay and, on a clear day, to the Isle of Man.
Distance:0.6 (One Way) miles
Point of interest:Views of Dundrum Bay
OS map:Sheet 29
Route:This path can be accessed from several points in the main car park but the best option is to leave the car park by its southern exit, walk along the pavement and pass through the pedestrian gate. Follow the well-worn track down the hill passing over a small foot bridge. Bear right and continue along the track for approx 1.6 miles long passing over a few stiles and foot bridges.
Observe the composition of the coast as you walk along the path, look out for the different substrates ranging from sand to pebbles and boulders. The terraces which follow the shoreline south of Bloody Bridge are outwash deposits of sands and gravels laid down by melt water from the retreating ice sheets.
These different substrates create the ideal conditions for unique communities of shoreline plant, invertebrates and birds. The shingle flora of the Mournes Coast is the best in Northern Ireland and includes some rare plants such as yellow horned-poppy and the oyster plant.
Look out for the ruins of St Mary’s Church along the route. The church is reputed to have been one of the first Christian churches in Northern Ireland. It was at one time referred to as the Ancient Church of Ballagh-a-Neir. This is one of the very few medieval relics of Mourne and all that remains today are the foundations of a nave and a small chancel.
Before you leave the car park have a look at the cliffs around Bloody Bridge as they provide nesting grounds for fulmars, black guillemots and herring gulls. Linnets and Stonechats can be seen among the gorse, while out to sea divers, auks, terns, gannets and cormorants may be spotted. The area’s dry heath habitat of western gorse and bell heather is recognised as being of European importance.
* After completing this walk, there is an option to continue along the Bloody Bridge path.
Facilities:Carpark, toilets and picnic tables.
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Accessible terrain:Off road paths, uneven in places
Getting to the start by car:Mourne Coastal Path is situated on the fringe of the Mourne Mountains by the Irish Sea three miles south of Newcastle on the A2 Newcastle to Kilkeel Road.