Saint Patrick's Ancient Paths

Get off the beaten track with this short break, experience a real taste of Ireland, and receive a warm Irish welcome from all you meet.

Hello I am Duane Fitzsimons, local walking guide in the Home of Saint Patrick. This part of Ireland has been home to my family for centuries and is steeped in ancient folklore. In fact there is so much of it, I have written two books on the subject! Come and join me to explore the myths and legends of one of the world’s most celebrated saints. These stories have been passed down through the generations and will come to life as we walk through this beautiful landscape together.

Saint Patrick’s writings are the oldest written documents in Ireland giving this area the claim that ‘the story of Ireland starts here.’ The scenic Lecale peninsula is the place that Saint Patrick came to on his return to Ireland and where he spent his final years. It is bounded on the north by Strangford Lough, to the south lie the Mourne Mountains, and to the East, the Irish Sea. It is a unique place, unspoiled and steeped in history. You will find much to enjoy!

Where will you stay?

For this experience you will be staying at the oldest coaching inn in Ireland to continually operate as such. Denvir’s of Downpatrick was established in 1642. It has been serving locals and visitors to the area for well over 375 years. Renowned for its excellent food and hospitality this small hotel is also known for its friendliness and entertainment which is provided four nights per week.

 

Your stay in Denvir’s will be on a bed and breakfast basis and you have the choice of staying two nights or three.

  • £190 per person for 2 overnight stays, or 

  • £230 per person for 3 overnight stays

Day 1 - Morning

 

This morning we will walk the lanes around Saul. It was from here that Patrick set out on his quest and changed the face of Ireland forever. The name “Saul” comes from the ancient Irish word “Sabhall” meaning barn. It was in a barn that Patrick established his first church and in his later years he came back here. It was at Saul that he died and his remains were brought to Downpatrick for burial. His grave is only 400 yards from Denvir’s, where you will be staying, in the shadow of Down Cathedral.

Our first stop will be to visit the site of Patrick’s first church. A visit here is often described as one of those special moments with an “otherworldly” aura. A stone building now occupies the site, and from here we will enjoy views over the area that our walk will cover. We then set off to the source of the River Slaney, Lough Money. It was in the mouth of the Slaney that Patrick landed upon his return. The landscape around the Lough is dotted with numerous ancient monuments harking back to Ireland’s prehistory which help explain the reason as to why Patrick chose this place.  Next we go to Slieve Patrick where, overshadowing the whole area is the largest statue of Saint Patrick in the World, visible for miles around, a National Monument. While exploring the area we will see, amongst other things, Patrick’s first holy well, his altar stone, and stained glass by the Irish artist Harry Clarke, and we will have great craic on the way.

 

To round off the walk we will pay a visit to Paddy’s Barn for lunch. Our walk also begins here. This quaint country pub lies in the valley just beneath Saul Church and serves good, local, freshly prepared food, and great Guinness!

Afternoon

At your leisure explore the ancient town of Downpatrick independently. I recommend the following itinerary:

  • Visit Down County Museum situated 300 yards from Denvir’s with free admission. The museum was originally the old gaol so is steeped in history in its own right. For many unfortunates this was their last dwelling place before being dispatched to the New World. Read their stories here and enjoy numerous other exhibitions which keep our local history alive.

  • Then visit Down Cathedral beside the museum which was built on a site of worship going back thousands of years. Many architectural investigations have taken place here, details of some of which are in the museum, and of course, Saints Patrick, Brigid and Columba are buried in the shadow of the Cathedral.

  • And finally, in the same area, visit the Saint Patrick Centre which is the largest independent centre dedicated to Patrick in the World. The full history of Patrick is laid out here.

Day 2

For your next day we head out to the coast near Ardglass. This coastline has some of the most beautiful beaches and stunning cliffs. In the bay at Ballyhornan lies Guns Island, to the north is the mouth of Strangford Lough, both named by Vikings, one of the many “visitors” to this area to leave their mark. As we walk along the cliff top you will encounter stories of shipwreck, folklore, and smuggling. Along the route are stunning geological features with rocky cliffs rising more than 30 metres above the sea. In a secluded bay is an ancient holy well named after Saint Patrick. On the rocks nearby is Saint Patrick’s Road which, legend has it, was to take him to the Isle of Man, 30 miles off shore. On a nearby hill is Ardtole Church, an ancient site destroyed during a massacre in the 1400s. It was an inspiration to Jonathan Swift for Gulliver’s Travels.

To finish the afternoon, and enjoy lunch, we pay a visit to Curran’s Bar. This well-known local favorite is celebrated for its seafood dishes and steaks. Serving the area for over 225 years it is located in Chapeltown. In this quaint sleepy hamlet you will find a church adorned with over 1100 years of Christian heritage including an ancient cross, fonts and the oldest stone statue of the Madonna dating from 1300! Before rounding off the afternoon we pay a visit to Ardglass. In this small fishing village you will find six castles, more than any other place in Ireland. 

About the walks

Both days include up to 5 miles of walking and are circular in nature. The routes include public roads, quiet laneways and secluded paths. The terrain is fairly flat and suitable for many levels of fitness. You will need to bring waterproof walking shoes and waterproof outerwear for the inclement weather. Food will be provided after each walk and the venues chosen can cater for a variety of dietary requirements. Walks are located within 7 miles (11km) of Downpatrick. If using public transport, regular Ulsterbus services operate the locations from Downpatrick Bus Station. Alternatively, transfers to the walk start points can be arranged for an additional charge.

What is included? 

  • 2 or 3 overnights with bed and breakfast in Denvir’s of Downpatrick, 14 -16 English Street, BT30 6AB.

  • Guided walk through the countryside of Saul with me, Duane, followed by lunch in Paddy’s Barn, Saul, on Day 1.

  • Guided cliff walk along the coast, again with me, Duane, followed by lunch in Curran’s of Chapletown, and a visit to the coastal town of Ardglass, on Day 2.

  • Price, to include all of the above, based on 2 people sharing, £175 per person for a 2 night stay, £210 for a 3 night stay.

  • Terms and conditions apply. See below.

Book 2 Overnights

Arrive the evening before Day 1 of walking. Or, unwind after Day 2.

£190 per person

Book 3 Overnights

Relax in the sumptuous surroundings of Denvir's before and after your walk.

 

£230 per person

Have you got a larger group or do you want to find out more detail? Get in touch using the box below.

Make an enquiry

Terms and Conditions

Business Operations

  • Walk the Lecale Peninsula is a brand of The Lecale Peninsula Tours, a company owned by Duane Fitzsimons operating as a sole trader. Duane is a trained Hill and Moorland Leader through Mountain Training. Mountain Training is the collection of awarding bodies for skills courses and qualifications in walking, climbing and mountaineering in the UK and Ireland. Duane is registered as a tour guide with Tour Guides NI who provide public liability insurance.

Booking policy

  • To book this bundle contact Duane Fitzsimons directly. By post to 9 Crossmore Road, Ardglass, County Down, Northern Ireland, BT30 7TA. Email to lecalepeninsula@live.com or call +44(0)78 3544 1933.

  • Bookings are subject to availability.

  • Minimum numbers for booking is 2 people. Maximum numbers for booking is 12, subject to availability of accommodation.    

  • This offer is not available in conjunction with any other offer.

  • Payment must be made in full 14 days prior to the date of your trip. Accepted methods of payment include: BACS, PayPal, and Cheque. You will be provided with a receipt for proof of purchase in the form of an invoice.

  • For a full refund, cancelations can be accepted up to 7 working days beforehand. Cancelations after this time period will be subject to charge.

  • This offer is subject to the availability of services listed within. A change of itinerary will be at the discretion of Walk the Lecale Peninsula. Participants will be notified at the earliest convenience.

Accommodation policies

  • Check out time is strictly by 11am.

  • Denvir’s of Downpatrick operate a non-smoking policy. Smoking is only permitted in designated areas. A £50 penalty will be issued to anyone found to be smoking in any of the rooms.  

Dietary Requirements

  • Elements of this package are catered. If you have any dietary requirements you should notify Walk the Lecale Peninsula as soon as possible.

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©2018 by Duane Fitzsimons.

Duane Fitzsimons

Walk the Lecale Peninsula

9 Crossmore Road, Downpatrick, BT30 7TA

Trained walk leader through Mountain Training

This business follows the Leave no trace principles

Regional, Customer Service, and Food ambassador

Member of Tour Guides Northern Ireland