Newcastle, County Down
Imagine. A colourful seaside town, with shops and restaurants lining the seafront.
Amusement arcades chatter with scores of games machines vying for attention blaring out music and flashing lights. Boutique cafes and restaurants inviting with their hand-painted wooden signs, their white washed tables and distressed chairs calling out how quirky they are, with menus boasting local, hand reared, hand-picked, home-made, organic, natural and gluten free ingredients. Interspersed throughout the town are knick-knack shops all selling plastic buckets and spades, children’s toys and floats for the beach, enough to supply an army of tiny paddlers and waders. And everywhere, amongst it all, running like a lifeblood through the veins of this small town – ice-cream.
Oh the ice-cream.
There is literally nothing that can warm the soul like an ice-cream on a breezy summers day at the beach with sea gulls flying over-head while you watch the tide lap at the sand.
Newcastle is an old resort town, that attracted maritime bathers as far back as the 1800's. The town did not fall into decrepitude as so many other seaside resorts throughout the UK in the '90s have. Newcastle bested the trends and has emerged now in 2018 as a thriving and sparkling seaside escape. There are plenty of high quality eating establishments to choose from for lunch and dinner as well as the more traditional fish and chip shops.
One of the biggest attractions for local visitors can be seen on the seafront and domineers the views. The sprawling, beautifully gothic Slieve Donard Hotel. It has been around since 1898 and offers guests luxury facilities including a spa with lovely Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and treatment rooms looking out onto the sea and to the mountains behind the town. The olde world Oak Room restaurant offers fancy fare and there's more relaxed dining in the Percy French.
This charming town though has something more to offer than the average seaside escape. Enveloping this town is the natural beauty of the Mourne Mountains and Tollymore Forest with its eerily beautiful trees often shrouded with fog that rolls in from the sea. Excellent walking and hiking trails for all skill levels are perfect for exploring the area as well as some excellent camping facilities. There's no surprise why this scenic area has been a filming location for the popular show Game of Thrones in recent years.
Newcastle is an easy 45 minute drive from Belfast city centre, or a 90 minute drive from Dublin airport. Needless to say it is located in Northern Ireland and operates in Pound Sterling.