Downpatrick to Steamboat Quay (and back)

Downpatrick to Steamboat Quay (and back)

e are so lucky to have such lovely walks within striking distance of Bangor and the Quoile River Walk is one of them. Fourteen of us gathered at the Down Museum for some reinforcing refreshments before starting the venture, led this time by Brian. We headed up the steps towards the Mound of Down where the Norman knight, John de Courcy and his small army of 300 defeated Rory MacDunlevy in 1177 to claim Ulster as his own.

The Mound is wildly overgrown with bushes and trees and until the construction of the Quoile water barrier in 1957 the high tides of Strangford Lough often made an island of the mound. The tracks lead across some fields and then onto Jane’s Shore path. The Quoile River was effectively created when Edward Southwell, landlord of Downpatrick in the early 12th century, built a tidal barrier at the Quoile and began draining the land, creating 500 acres of land from what was previously the western branch of Strangford Lough. All the paths are well maintained and we enjoyed the first signs of spring including blackthorn blossom a plenty. After crossing the Quoile Bridge we joined the path at the Quoile Pondage.

This National Nature Reserve covers both sides of the Quoile River. It was created in 1957 by the construction of a tidal barrier to prevent flooding in the Downpatrick area. Soon after the barrier was built, plants and trees colonized the former seashore. We passed many old quays, still with their bollards well preserved, Quoile Castle to the east and the remains of an old workboat, eventually reaching the Steamboat Quay. It was built in the 1850s by David Ker, landlord of Downpatrick, to assist the operations of the County Down and Liverpool Steampacket Company. During the latter half of the 19th century timber was landed from sailing schooners from Baltic and Canadian ports. Missing now is the timber quay itself which jutted out from the present stone structure. The Downpatrick Timber, Slate and Coal Company imported building materials (mainly slate) from North Wales from its formation in 1895 until 1920.

We then turned back to the Countryside Centre where we expected to see displays on the wildlife and history of the area. But no – it was closed, as were the toilets including the disabled one (except for a blue Tardis) but we did avail of the picnic tables and admired the raised beds of flowers and herbs maintained by Downpatrick U3A. And it was May bank holiday weekend! Shame on the Dept of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

 

Added by: RobbieJackson
Added on: Tuesday 8th May 2018

Category: Walkers

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