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The Lecale Way
The area of Lecale is bounded by the Irish in the west and the rivers Quoile and Blackstaff in the east, the Lecale Way consists of 65 Kilometres (40 miles) of way marked tracks and road, stretching from Strangford Lough to the seaside town of Newcastle. This was the initiative of the Country side Access and Activity Network' CAAN, which have routes all over Northern Ireland.
The name Lecale comes from the Irish Leath Chathail, which means 'Cathal's territory, Cahal was one of the princes of the Ulaid, a tribe who ruled this part of Ireland and from which the name Ulster is derived. The Ulaid may have used the Mound of Down as their headquarters, it is situated near Downpatrick which has figured prominently in the history of County Down. It was at nearby Saul that St Patrick built his first church in Ireland.
Killard Point to Ardglass.
At Killard Point nature reserve there is no car park, however you will find a wide grass verge beside the entrance, walking south you can either take the route along the shore, which is useable except at times of very high tides, or you can use the wicket gate and go across the grassland. This will take you to the highest point in the reserve with views of Strangford narrows to the east and Benderg bay to the south. On this high ground are several concrete structures, dating from the last war, they appear to have had anti-aircraft guns fitted to their roofs, they would have been part of the defenses of Bishop's Court airfield, which was occupied by the R.A.F (Royal Air Force) until quite recently.
In the mid 1940's an American troop ship the Georgetown Victory went ashore at Killard Point, attempts to re float her were unsuccessful, and she was broke up where she lay.
From this vantage point you can see the village of Ballyhornan, it was from this little hamlet that a underwater telephone cable started its journey to the UK mainland, it is remembered in the name of the local pub 'The Cable Bar' You can also see Guns Island, it is uninhabited and used only for grassing.
A little to the north of Guns Island lies the wreck of a French ship the Amitý which was carrying arms and cannon for the 1798 rebellion, the unfortunate vessel was dashed to pieces on the jagged basalt, scattering its cargo of the sea bed where most of it still lies, one of the salvaged cannon can be seen in the harbour yard in Ardglass. Only one survived the wreck, this is said to have been the man at the wheel when the ship went ashore, he was cared for and hidden from the authorities by the people of Sheeplands, no one knows what became of him, but he is remembered in a cliff track called ' The Steersman's Path' where is is said to have gone each day, gazing down on the [Read about Castle ward.] wreck site where all his comrades had perished.
The wreck site is protected, a painting of the disaster can be seen in Downpatrick museum. A small obelisk on the rocks nearby commemorates a diver who was drowned, diving in the locality.
You will find a car park at Ballyhornan, follow the road towards Ardglass past the toilets until you come to Rock Road, you will find the route is signposted. About half way along the walk you will come to Sheeplands Harbour, don't be expecting a modern or even an ancient structure, Sheeplands is simply a break in the rocky coast where the people of the now vanished village of Sheeplands, once drew their boats up on the shingle beach. You will also see the remains of Sheeplands water mill with the wheel still in place, the mill is recorded as still in operation in 1850 the miller named was William Curran, the wheel is recorded as 14 ft in diameter 2 ft wide with a fall of 14 ft and driving one pair of millstones. The nearby stump of a windmill, must by this date have been derelict as it is not listed. Near the shore are the foundation of some of the houses, where generations of people long forgotten lived out their lives.
Walking south you will come to St Patrick's Wells which consists of a circular enclosure with two wells. From there follow the signs and you will come to Ardtole Church which was the scene of a massacre carried out by the McCartan's. From Ardtole it is not far to Ardglass, there you will find all the facilities you would expect from a small country town. Parking is available at the Phenick Cove marina.