Walk the cliffs - Half day excursion
Get off the beaten track and explore the myths of Sheepland, a landscape rich in folklore and associations with Saint Patrick. You will learn about the areas rich folklore; hear tales of Vikings, shipwreck and smuggling.
Beginning at the village of Chapeltown unlock the history of this unique corner of Ireland paying a visit to the churchyard. The church is home to several artefacts from the medieval era when this was area was a centre of pilgrimage. It was in 1185 that the relics of Saint Patrick, Brigid, and Columba were recovered in Downpatrick. View the oldest stone statue of the Madonna and child in Ireland, recovered in 1908 and a number of other relics including a 10th Century cross. Many of these artefacts trace their origins back to the arrival of the Normans, much like you tour guide Duane.
Leaving Chapeltown the walk goes into rural lanes of Sheepland, a mystical area, full of folklore. Having written the history of the area, Duane's knowledge opens up the landscape and its heritage for you.
Before long the walk emerges on the clifftop Steersman's Pad. The cliffs are formed of Silurian bedrock which has been folded and distorted over the last 400 million of years. The rock rises to 30 metres in some places. This vein of rock can be found in Scotland and the Isle of Man too. One of the many ships which foundered on this rugged coast was l'Amitie in April 1797. The sole survivor gives the clifftop walk its name. He spent each day walking the clifftop looking down on the wreck site while he recuperated.
After hearing stories about the smuggling in Sheepland harbour we arrive at a well created by Saint Patrick. This ancient spring has its own folklore and traditions. An important site for pilgrimage water from this well is said to cure any ailment! Depending on the tide, we may have the opportunity to walk on the mystical feature known as Saint Patrick's Road. The legend goes that this was to take him to the Isle of Man. Overlooking the site is the ruin of Ardtole Church which was an inspiration to Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels.
Round the day off in style
Curran's Bar is an 18th Century inn and has won numerous awards for its food and hospitality. The quaint little bar has been serving the local community for almost 230 years. It has a true and authentic Irish country pub feel. On our return we will enjoy a fantastic selection of local food. The recommended dish to round of the tour is the signature seafood chowder.
A bit more info
The walk is 4 miles and circular, returning to the start point.
Terrain can be uneven in places. Waterproof and sensible walking shoes are advised.
The route will use quiet public highways, laneways, and open grassland (there may be roaming livestock).
The tour lasts 2.5 hours, food is served afterwards.
The walk can be organised for any day of the week with reasonable notice. For weekend dates this can be as little as 3 days.
The meeting point
83 Strangford Road
Regular Ulsterbus services operate to Chapeltown from Downpatrick Bus Centre, the service is 16A.
All prices include food afterwards
Groups up to 4 people - £100
Groups up to 8 people - £180
Walks for larger groups up to 15 people can be organised.