On New Year’s Day I began a walk on the North Down Coastal Path. Car parking is available close to the entrance to the railway station and opposite the Dirty Duck pub, where a good selection of ale is available at the end of any walk. The path starts at the Esplanade at Holywood and when I set out with six others, the rain had eased off but it was very misty.
The trains were running normally on a holiday timetable. But for the aircraft coming in to land at George Best Belfast City Airport, the conditions were quite murky. The low cloud base must have made things quite difficult for the pilots of the planes from flybe and Aer Lingus, who moved their services from Belfast International Airport fourteen months ago.
Walking along the shore it was possible to watch some of the ships heading in and out of Belfast Harbour. The cargo ship Wilson Brest emerged from the mist heading towards the port. I could not see the name on the vessel, but looking at my photograph afterwards I discovered the name of the shipping company on the side and then found out this particular ship was due to arrive at 5pm, which coincided with the time of our walk.
Follow the linear path from Holywood along the outer edge of Belfast Lough towards Seapark, a recreational area with a play park. Continue past the park towards the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club in Cultra. A major programme is underway to repair the roof of the building and there is scaffolding all around it.
The first vessel spotted at the start of the walk was the Stena Superfast VII ferry, heading from Belfast to Cairnryan in Scotland at 3:30pm. In the early days of the HSS fast ferry used by Stena, the wash created by it was so strong on both sides of the Lough that its speed had to be restricted until it entered the open sea. Later on when it was dark we saw its sister ship Stena Superfast VIII arriving from Cairnryan (at 5:45pm).