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Killough to Newcastle

8 nautical mile paddle dominated by beach and sand sune system of Murlough Nature Reserve

County
Down
Distance
8 nautical miles
Days
1
Nearest Town
Killough
Route Shape
Linear
Grade
-
OS Map
29
Access Point
Killough - J540356
Egress Point
Newcastle - J380315

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Points of Interest

St John's Point Lighthouse, Murlough Nature Reserve, Dundrum, Newcastle

Itinerary

From Killough, the low rocky shore continues to St Johns Point, where the tall yellow and black striped lighthouse marks the entrance to Dundrum Bay. From here to Newcastle, a distance of 8 nautical miles as the crow flies,
the scenery is dominated by the beach and sand dune system of the Murlough Nature Reserve. In the distance, the distinctive profile of the Mourne Mountains comes into view.



Prior planning is essential when paddling this stretch of coastline as there is an army firing range extending almost 3 nautical miles out to sea off Ballykinler and the entrance to
Dundrum Inner Bay. Canoeists should contact Belfast Coastguard for details of when firing is scheduled and plan to paddle outside of these times. If the firing range is in use, red flags (daytime) or red lights (night) are visible over the base, just north of the entrance to the Inner Bay. Out to sea,
there are three yellow marker buoys marked DZ marking the outer perimeter of the range.


Dundrum Bay is relatively shallow, and is framed by sandy beaches, interrupted by only a few reefs and rocky foreshore. Landing is possible on the beaches almost anywhere along the shore, however canoe access requires a long beach trek at low water. The only break in the line of beaches is opposite the village of Dundrum, where a marked passage leads to the Inner Bay. Access here is tidal with landing possible at Black Rock and just north of the Downshire Bridge where there is a small turning circle for cars. The bridge is a good spot for developing moving water skills as the tide flows between its stanchions at rates up to 6 knots. The best conditions are 2 hours before and after high water. HW at the bridge is +0030 HW Belfast.


At the entrance to the Inner Bay, tidal flows can reach 3 knots on both the flood and ebb tide. Deep water surfing waves also form here on the ebb tide with swell from the south or east. Large numbers of common seals haul out on the Ballykinler shore.


Overlooking Dundrum village is the medieval Dundrum Castle, while to the south, the Mourne Mountains rise steeply from the coastal plain, with Newcastle town at their foot.
Approaching from Murlough, the Slieve Donard Hotel marks the beginning of the sea front promenade. From here the beach begins to narrow, ending in the harbour at the foot of Slieve Donard - the highest mountain in the range. This is a drying harbour, built for the export of granite from the mountain quarries, and home to the RNLI offshore lifeboat.  Above this, and visible from the sea is the ‘Bogey Line’, where a funicular railway transporting quarried granite once tracked
down the mountain. At low tide, access can be gained at a stony beach adjacent to the south wall of the harbour.


With the exception of Dundrum Inner Bay entrance, tides along this section of coastline are weak.

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