So I shared with you our lovely accommodation at Dan White's, but what did we get up to during our stay? The next few days I'll share with you what you can do down in the Kingdom of Mourne & surrounding area. Of course there are the outdoor pursuits like mountain hikes, biking trails etc. but if you've young children there are plenty of family activities too.
Here is a good day's worth of fun should you have rainy weather during your stay. Newry is about a half hour drive from Dan White's and the drive comprises the Mourne Coastal Route which is outstandingly beautiful. You pass through picturesque towns like Warrenpoint where you can stop for fish & chips or an icecream.
Reaching Newry & following the signs to Dublin will bring you to The Quays and Buttercrane, the city's main shopping centres which are side by side. Both centres parking is paid, but it's about a pound for an hour, so it's not terribly steep.
The Quays has Eddie Rockets, the first of the 1950s' themed restaurant chain to open North of the border. We hit it up for breakfast AND dinner. Their milkshakes are famously amazing, and I highly recommend the bacon and cheese fries.
The Quays has stores like Topshop, Lush, H&M and Debenhams. Crossing over to Buttercrane you'll find Mark & Spencer and an absolutely massive Primark. Buttercrane also has some kids' fun going on during the summer months, plus an igloo where you can get your photo taken with Elsa from Frozen for £6.
Leaving Newry & following the motorway to Dublin will lead you over the border to Dundalk, about a further half an hour drive. For those who aren't from Northern Ireland and might be planning a visit, crossing the border is simple. There's no passport check or anything, in fact you only know you've crossed over when the road signage changes from miles to kilometres.
Keep an eye on your phone network too. It may be worth switch off data unless your contract allows roaming, as your phone will switch to an Irish carrier even around Newry.
Our destination in Dundalk was Marshes, their huge shopping mall. I didn't have a sat nav or map, I just winged it, and found it easily enough. Again you pay for parking, €1 an hour or so. The highlight of Marshes for us was Tiger, which I mentioned before. A really cool home ware store. You'll also find a huge Dunnes, a big Primark (called Penney's in the south) and lots more fashion stores.
We left Dundalk to cross the border again and head toward Armagh. A good tip here is to NOT follow the signs to Armagh you see round Dundalk town. We followed that route and it was a twisty country road that took about an hour. I think you'd be quicker to fly up the motorway to Newry again & through to Armagh that way, on roads where you can do 70 mph rather than twisting through tiny towns doing 45 mph most of the way. Michael got really car sick that route too.
But eventually we got to Armagh & the planetarium. It's free to come in and walk about the displays, but you must be over age six to enter the dome shows. They run on the hour and we arrived in time to catch the 2pm show. Each programme runs for about 35 minutes, so we ended up staying and watching the 3pm & 4pm shows too, making rockets in the crafting room in between.
The shows cost around £5 per person & are well worth catching. We had a lot of fun that afternoon, and have decided we will call back again when we are down again in a few weeks' time.