We're thinking of spending a few hours at Murlough Nature Reserve, coming up from Louth. Have found a bit of useful info on the web but have a couple of questions I'd try here:
-best route: would we have to go through Newry or is the town bypassed now. It's a couple of years since I was up that way and I think we went through the town. Would be great if we could avoid getting caught up in the Saturday morning traffic on the Dublin Road
-I think I've worked out where the parking is at the nature reserve. Would a car with Republic plates be safe enough there? Never had any problems in the north before but we are a bit wary in unfamiliar areas.
-a good spot for a pub lunch would be great
-all routes are through Newry - though you could ease the pain by bypassing the town to the old Belfast Road, then down to the town centre from there and keep left towards Hilltown. That means you miss the snag at the Quays / Buttercrane. You can either go via Hilltown (through the mountains, very picturesque), or go the coast road via Warrenpoint / Kilkeel. Both are nice drives, I'd go one and come back t'other.
-Southern plates - without sounding too harsh its 2011. Just about everybodys moved on, people in the South need to do the same and stop treatin us like lepers. If southern cars and trucks can drive up the Shankill without getting bricked you can leave yours in a tourist spot in the middle of nowhere.
-Food - try the Bucks Head in Dundrum, as long as your off peak. If you go on peak you'd possibly need to book.
Thanks for the helpful reply. We did what you suggested and went the mountain way and came back along the coast. It was a nice spin. The nature reserve was great, as was Newcastle where we ended up eating. Very friendly people.
No offence intended with my query about the car. As I said, I've never had any problems in the north, but the people i went with are a bit older than me and would not be venturing up there very much at all. They also remarked how friendly everybody was. Might get them back there again soon.