About Newcastle beaches
The Victorian resort of Newcastle, on the awe-inspiring Northern Ireland coast, is a lively, if down-at-heel resort that has had a huge facelift in recent years, and now sports a smart promenade dotted by modern sculptures, plus a new footbridge over the Shimna river. Besides its makeover, it offers opportunities for watersports and amazing walks in the Mourne Mountains. Best of all, it sits close to 5km (3 miles) of sweeping beaches.
Dundrum Bay stretches from the resort town of Newcastle as far as the National Trust-owned Murlough Nature Reserve, where boardwalks meander through the grassy 6,000-year-old dune system. The beach is a wonderful 5km (3 miles) white-sand curve, and it’s all overlooked by the rounded peaks of the Mourne Mountains to the south. Away from town, the sands feel pleasingly remote and sparsely populated.
Blue Flag Tyrella Beach is a 2km long (1.2 miles) gentle beach and dune complex set within Dundrum Bay, and backed by 25 hectares (61 acres) of ancient dunes. It’s popular with families and patrolled by lifeguards in summer.
Beyond the beach:
Pack your clubs and head for a round or two at the Royal County Down Golf Club (www.royalcountydown.org) – one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland. As well as the challenging Championship Links course, there is the easier Annesley Links, both of which have a stunning backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne. For those looking for a touch of relaxation the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa (www.hastingshotels.com) is directly opposite the golf course and has a host of treatments to get you in tip top condition.
Close to Newcastle, the undulating Mourne Mountains offer wonderful walking opportunities, including Northern Ireland’s highest peak of Slieve Donard. You can spot birds and wildlife in the Murlough Reserve, declared Ireland’s first nature reserve in 1967. Offshore is a great place to spot grey and common seals, particularly from July to September. Back in town, families can cool down at the Tropicana water park (Central Promenade), with water slides and splashy fun, or at the Rock Pool (South Promenade) – an outdoor seawater pool dating from the 1930s.
The romantic ruins of Dundrum castle are just 5km (3 miles) from Newcastle. It’s one of Northern Ireland’s most important Norman castles, with magnificent views of Dundrum Bay with its pale blue sea and a thousand shades of green.
Charter a private boat through Clearsky Adventure (www.clearsky-adventure.com) and take a sea safari exploring all the region’s remote, difficult-to-access areas, and stop off at a seaside town for a lunch of oysters and lobster.