Below the Ards Peninsula, the A2 continues south to the Mourne Mountains area, although if you’re going there directly from Belfast, the A24 is a good shortcut. The drive from Belfast directly to Newcastle should take just under an hour. If you’re driving up from Dublin, turn east off the Dublin-Belfast Road at Newry and take A2, following the north shore of Carlingford Lough, between the mountains and the sea. It’s a drive you won’t soon forget.
For information in the Down District, stop into the St. Patrick Visitor Centre, 53A Market St., Downpatrick, County Down (tel. 028/4461-9000), open October to March, Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm; April to September, Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 6pm and Sunday 1 to 6pm.
There's also the Newcastle Tourist Information Centre, 10-14 Central Promenade, Newcastle, County Down (tel. 028/4372-2222; www.downdc.gov.uk). It's open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 2 to 6pm, with extended summer hours (daily 9:30am-7pm). A coach tour of the Mournes, offered according to demand, can be booked here. Or get information and maps at the Mourne Heritage Trust Centre, 10-14 Central Promenade, Newcastle, County Down (tel. 028/4372-4059; www.mournelive.com), open all year Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. It offers guided mountain walks Mondays and Saturdays when the weather cooperates.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.