One of the best thing with hanging out with the locals is that you get really good suggestions on what to see in a new place and how to get there. This time we got lucky, because our neighbour Stephen offered to give us a ride to the Tollymore Forest park so we could take a hike up the Mourne mountains. But first, we stopped in Hillsborough to try out the traditional Irish breakfast – Ulster Fry. It consists of eggs, pancake, soda bread, potato bread, sausages, bacon and beans. It´s great!
The journey continued south, and Stephen let us off at the Tollymore Forest Park. It has a long history which can be seen in the 18th century bridges and buildings in the lower parts of the park. We decided to take the track along the Shimna river and then try to get up the mountain.
Growing up by the forest, it might be the thing we miss the most living on a boat (besides family and friends :-)) The forest in Tollymore reminded us of home but it also had a little bit exotic feel as there were many plants you would´t see at home. The Rhododendron that covered the shore were huge, there were many beautiful spots along the river to enjoy.
Shimna river has several bridges which makes it possible to pass over the strong stream. And of course, as I brought my Tarzan along there was some tree-climbing over the river during the hike 😉
We took a little side track up the mountain before heading back. Passing through high redwoods and oak trees, a varying landscape that we had almost to ourselves. Apparently oak wood from Tollymore was the preferred material for the interiors of the White Star liners including the ‘Titanic’ which was built in Belfast. We got to see a little bit of the top and the wonderful views before we needed to get back down to our ride. The weather cleared on our way down the mountains and we enjoyed the sun!
Before heading back we stopped for a snack by a nice little waterfall where I managed to get some shots of “Näcken” which can´t be pictured here. In Scandinavia Näcken is a male water spirit who plays enchanted songs on the violin, luring women and children to drown in lakes or streams. Fortunately there were no playing involved here so I could continue the hike in safety.
Stephen picked us up outside the park and gave us a tour of the Newcastle, a pretty little town with the Mournes as a dramatic backdrop. We will probably pass here on our way south.
This day gave us some well needed exercise and a lot of energy from the nice surroundings and fresh air, big thanks to Stephen for showing us around!
The renovation work continues on Mouni, and Jens has soon completed our new doors! Other than that, we are enjoying the company of our neighbours and getting ready for some Christmas celebrations. Unfortunately, the shipping of the batteries has got delayed once more since they are apparently considered dangerous goods, so we will have to wait until after New Years’ before they arrive. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.
Wishing you all a nice and relaxing holiday season!