I visited the Flagstaff viewpoint last weekend and experienced the amazing scenery that it boasts both North and South of the Irish Border. To my right was the iconic view over Warrenpoint and Carlingford Lough, to my left a view over Newry City and Newry Canal, behind me was beautiful mountains and farmland but slap bang in front of me was the perfect view into a huge quarry.
I wrote a post about Bigwood Forest just a few weeks ago as I had visited the site and was pleasantly surprised by the diverse vegetation and insects that I experienced. The site is a working quarry and has been in action for a long time, but it is very well hidden from the main road. You see the occasional lorry pulling into or out of the site, but it is mostly a mystery to how big the quarry is. I really hadn’t thought about this place very much as I couldn’t see it, so I didn’t see it as an environmental problem.
But from the Flagstaff viewpoint I could finally see just how large the quarry is. It was disheartening to see the vast hole in the beautiful landscape that lay before me. I even felt disappointed in myself for not knowing the scale of disruption to the local environment. Sadly, Mourne is known for its granite and so this is a common sight around this area. What makes me sad is that this is a site that will only continue to get bigger as they dig further into the rock, eventually depleting the chances of ecological balance in the area. I have drove along the dual-carriage between Warrenpoint and Newry and always envy the people who live in the houses on the other side of the water because they are so isolated, elevated and I imagine that they have an incredible view of the landscape. But now I realise that whilst they do get to see the beauty of the area, they also must look at the ugliness of the natural resource exploitation that has occurred here.
I even titled the area as a Hidden Gem and I guess this was correct, but it was the quarry that was hiding, not the beautiful natural surroundings.