St Patrick’s Pilgrim Walk - Day 3 - Mon, 21 September 2020
Newry to Rostrevor 15km/9.5 miles
view from above-Rostrevor
Resting time after our walk
I decided to get up early, 5 am and at 6 am we were on our way. The fog was heavy, which slowed down the 1.45 minutes-drive to Newry. Instead, it took me 2 hours, and we set off walking at 8.15 am.
Today’s walk was from Newry to Rostrevor which, in my mind, was going to be relatively easy, just continuing a flat walk along the canal. I know there is one. However, Saint Patrick decided to take us into the hills.
Saint Patrick was definitely with me as the weather was glorious, around 18 degrees, the ideal temperature for walking.
The walk was sporadically signposted, and during the 2nd half of the walk, the signs disappeared completely, which is a big problem for someone like me with no sense of direction and not very good at reading maps.
You would think that a guy like me, who has walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats would be a well-seasoned map reader. The problem with the ordinance maps of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is that the Northern Irish ones are not digital. In other words, you can’t download them onto your phone and map your walks in advance! Without this modern technology, I am a bit of a goldfish.
The first 7 miles were glorious. The landscapes changes all the time. Whereas yesterday’s walk we just walked along the towpath, today we were in the midst of mountains and one could see the coastline.
We looked across Carlingford Lough, and the mountains range between the Mourne Mountains and the Cooley Mountains.
This wonderful feeling of expansion and being on top of the hills disappeared when we ended up on the main road.
Had I missed a sign somewhere? Standing at the “A” road, I decided to feed the dogs their snack and give them some water whilst I was trying to read the map.
I tried to look down the road to see if I could see a “St Patrick trail” sign but I could not. Traffic was heavy but not too crazy, so I took the risk to walk on the road with all 8 dogs, but after 200 metres I thought better about it, and we returned. I decided to go back on the track we came from to see if we missed a sign. After walking back for about 3 miles, it was clear that we had not missed any sign. They had not been put up.
Frankly, how ridiculous! It is not an expensive thing to put up signs to be sure. So instead of walking 9.5 miles, we walked 13 miles today!
A car stopped, and a young man asked me if I was lost. How could he tell?
He had seen me walking on the main road. Like all people he had never heard of St Patrick’s Pilgrim Walk although it sounded familiar. I said jokingly, that is because of St Patrick’s day!
Fortunately, he was able to point in the direction of Rostrevor, which was about 5 miles down the road. The Village of Rostrevor is picturesque. Very unlike most villages in Northern Ireland. It is something I really miss living here in Northern Ireland, the lack of beautiful villages.
For the most part, they consist of some ugly buildings with no village green or centre, surrounded by some new build or 70ties non-descript bungalows and small poorly kept industrial sheds. The sites contrast to the gorgeous villages of Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and England. Rostrevor is definitely an exception, apparently it has hardly changed since Edwardian times.
Tomorrow we will start our walk in Kilbroney Park, which, inspired the Narnia Trails, where the Caffe provides alternative kinds of milk for coffee, and they even have vegan sausage rolls!