Nortnern Narnia - where to stay
The Whistledown Hotel (048 4175 4174; whistledownhotel.com) Warrenpoint has rooms from €60pps The Canal Court Hotel (048 3025 1234; canalcourthotel.com), on the cherry-blossom lined banks of the canal, is considered Newry's leading hotel.
Best internet rates start at €60pps. For shoppers on a budget, Mourne Drive (048 302 61660; mournedrive.com) is a smart B&B with an impeccable reputation, and a 10-minute walk from Newry town centre. From €36pps
FIVE GREAT THINGS TO DO
- Follow a gourmet trail of Down's charming fishing harbours. The villages of Kilkeel, Annalong, Ardglass and Portavogie boast some of Ireland's best seafood and promise you'll be up to the gills with craic (and Omega 3s) by the time you leave.
- Surf the slopes. Ireland's humble hills are no winter sport paradise, but mountain boarding -- think snowboarding on wheels -- is quickly becoming the favourite adrenalin rush up north. The island's leading boarding centre is located in Kilcoo, where they'll have you scuttling from the Mountains of Mourne down to the sea, before you can say Percy French. (surfindirt.co.uk; lessons from €12 per hour).
- Get jiggy with it with Newry's traditional Irish music. Its popularity is reflected in the region's number of live music venues where O'Hanlon's of Mullaghbawn on the Armagh side of Newry remains local favourite for an evening's toe-tapping. (ohanlons.com)
- Experience the great outdoors with your kids. Autumn Watch is a series of activites run by the Ulster Wildlife Trust in Kilbroney Park (Sep 25) and Delamont Country Park (Oct 10) where children learn about seeds, berries, nuts and trees and how the park's local residents are preparing for the season ahead. It's Wind in the Willows coming to life. Free admission but booking essential (ulsterwildlifetrust.org).
- Grab a bargain at Newry Market. Dating back to the 16th century, the Victorian-style stalls situated along Main Street are a perfect olde-world antidote to the town's bustling malls. From books and clothes, to fresh farm produce and trays of violas and sweet peas, this may be just the spot to bring home some Northern wares. Open Thursday and Saturday 9am-5pm.