Whatever your position on its relation to Great Britain or Ireland, and whether you call it a country or a region or a province, Northern Ireland has its own football team, which is enough to justify it for me as a standalone End to End country. I did it with my chum Nigel, on a mainly coastal route from the southernmost bit, Cranfield Point down by Warrenpoint, up to the World Heritage Site of Giant’s Causeway.
The Point itself has a satisfyingly endlike feel: a scruffy little track down to a private house. We took souvenir photos and looked out to see what we could see, which was little apart from gunmetal-grey waters and milky skies.
Chivvied along by a tailwind, we made excellent progress up to Newcastle, alongside the mountains of Mourne. Tea stop was a super little place by the promenade called Niki’s Kitchen Cafe, full of locals who’d been to a wedding, and a stupendous selection of cakes and gateaux. Nigel’s impeccably prepared route took us down a pleasantly rollercoaster road to Strangford via an offroad track through a wood used by walkers and cycling families.
From the picturesque historic harbour village we took the car ferry across the loch to Portaferry on the other side. It was a lovely multicolour pastel harbourfront sort of place, like Tobermory, though unlike Tobermory I couldn’t get any photos that did it justice. Next time I’ll bring my pastels and paintbrushes. We stayed in the Portaferry Hotel, right on the front, and decided that three pints was about right for the 80 miles we’d done.
Miles today: 79
Miles since Cranfield Point: 63