The Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea close to the start and finish point of this short 12 mile loop from Newcastle. The mountains are always in view as you wind your way along this almost flat route with the sea never far away. Leaving Newcastle by Donard Park your route takes you towards Tollymore Forest Park where you can leave your bike and take a stroll through the arboretum before continuing along the Barbican Road. You continue past Maghera Old Church, with buildings dating back to the 10th century, to Maghera and shortly you pass by a huge standing stone by the roadside just a short distance from the Slidderyford Dolmen (no public access) in a field on the left. The route continues to Dundrum, with its castle overlooking the bay, then turns towards Newcastle, past Murlough Nature Reserve and onto a shared use footway into the town, before turning left towards the eastern end of the promenade with its many new art pieces.
Public roads: On Public Road
Getting to the start:
From Newry take the A25 to Castlewellan then A50 to Newcastle.
From Belfast take the A24 to Clough then the A2 to Dundrum and Newcastle.
From Downpatrick take the A25 to Clough and A2 to Dundrum and Newcastle.
Traffic: Traffic can be moderately heavy on parts of this route.
OS map:Sheet 29
Terrain:Mainly flat terrain.
Point of interest:Tollymore Forest Park
Maghera Old Church
Murlough Nature reserve
Facilities:Ample carparking, toilet and refreshment facilities available in Newcastle. Dundrum and Maghera have toilet, refreshment and carparking facilities. Tollymore Forest Park has toilet & refreshment facilities.
Accessibility information:Mostly flat route but traffic can be reasonably heavy on sections of the route.
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Publication:Armagh & Down Cycling Guide
Publication availability:Tourisy Information Offices in Downpatrick and Newcastle.