In the Ring of Gullion – Gap ‘o the North Discovery Walk

Discover the untouched landscapes of South Armagh by exploring the ring dyke hills of The Ring of Gullion; learn about the history and enjoy the craic.

The three-hour loop walk will begin and end in the car park of the former Church of Ireland at the bottom of Jonesborough Hill, beside M1/A1 Junction 20 at Flurrybridge. From there it is a 50-minute walk to the summit of Feede Mountain with views of the Gap of the North, Slieve Gullion, the Cooley Mountains and Dundalk Bay.

On the summit, Gap o the north Walking Club chairman Seamus Murphy will explain how geography and landscape determine history. The last Ice Age left a close chain of drumlins across the island of Ireland with just one break near the east coast – the Gap of the North. This was the scene of a great battle between Lord Mountjoy and Hugh O’Neill in 1600. The Gap is also linked to several episodes in the epic Cattle Raid of Cooley.

Due south beyond the Hill of Faughart where St Brigid built her church, Robert Bruce’s younger brother Edward lost his head in 1318. To the south-east is Trumpet Hill, where local lore says Cuchulain’s charioteer blew out challenges to the champions of Queen Maeve’s Connacht army which was camped at Bellurgan. On the return journey we overlook the valley of the Flurry River, which once drove 14 mills between Flurrybridge and the sea at Bellurgan. We then descend into the valley to visit a souterrain, an early Christian underground storage and protection tunnel.

After making your way back to the Gap O the North pub in Jonesborough the Ring of Gullion Comhaltas will perform for you. This group of talented young musicians is not to be missed and what better way to spend an hour or two after a days walking than relaxing in the company of friends listening to an award winning traditional band with a mug of tea or a pint of stout.

The walk is all off-road, mostly on good trails and boots are advisable. It is suitable for moderately fit people and accompanied children over 12.

Meet at Church of Ireland at the bottom of Jonesborough Hill, beside M1/A1 Junction 20 at Flurrybridge at 12pm sharp. To book your palce visit www.ringofgullion.org.

The event is taking place as part of National Trails Day 2012; a cross-border celebration of local trails which is now in its fifth year and continuing to grow from strength to strength.

Sarah Nelson, from Outdoor Recreation NI (formerly CAAN), believes that National Trails Day offers all the encouragement we should need to get outdoors and explore the trails on our doorsteps. Miss Nelson explains, “Our vision for National Trails Day is to get as many people as possible out enjoying their local trails and learning more about places they maybe pass by in the car everyday. Yet again we have had fantastic support from all our partners and have more events than ever on offer on Sunday 7th October.”

Miss Nelson concludes, “We couldn’t be happier with the variety of events on offer this October and can’t wait to see people from all across Northern Ireland out enjoying their local trails on this celebratory day.”

As well as providing a unique opportunity for people across Northern Ireland to try their hands at new activities, National Trails Day is also about highlighting the great work of organisations which develop and maintain these trails and the ongoing sustainability issues that surround them.

Kathleen Conlon from the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, comments “We are incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful variety of trails in Northern Ireland and we want to use National Trails Day to celebrate these trails. We hope that people will take this great opportunity to enjoy these trails as well as learn about the history of their local area and how we can all conserve these great resources for future generations.”

National Trails Day in Northern Ireland is organised by Outdoor Recreation NI in partnership with financial partners, Inland Waterways of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Sport Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency with support from the Northern Ireland Forest Service and the National Trust. There is a full list of all the free events taking place on www.nationaltrailsday.co.uk and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

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