A pit in the mountain and a pit in my stomach!!

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.

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Bigwood: A Hidden Gem

 

 

A few days ago, I had a sudden urge to visit a place that I hadn’t been to since I was very young. A place that I drive past almost every day, but it is so well hidden that most people are oblivious to its existence. Just a few steps off a busy dual carriage-way directing cars between the towns of Newry and Warrenpoint is a stone quarry. Although it is extremely saddening to have a quarry in action for so long in my local area, the forest around it has been relatively well protected over the years. Bigwood is a wild escape from the busy traffic that runs parallel to it, filled with trees and shrubbery and of course its famous Bluebells. I went in search of the bluebells which naturally thrive in this area and I was very lucky to find some still in good condition, as they came into bloom in early Spring.

 

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Although the paths look like they have been well used by the local hikers, dog-walkers and of course the odd mountain biker, they still emit a sense of ruggedness and privacy. The tall and numerous trees help to block out the surrounding noise pollution, creating the illusion that you are somewhere very different to what is true.

Looking around the landscape, the vegetation is extremely diverse, from Pine trees to Holly bushes to Buttercups and Dandelions. I also spotted the infamous Rhododendron ponticum, a beautiful purple flowering plant which is a typical invasive species to be spotted across Northern Ireland. I swear I saw a patch of vegetation that was almost Bamboo-like which I would like to investigate some more.

As always when exploring I take my camera, so luckily I snapped some different shots of the pathway so check out my Instagram, I hope you enjoy them!!!