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Waking back to happiness

Plans to build a new 50-mile walking route along the Co Down coast represent an initiative with enormous potential which deserves to be fully explored by the authorities.

The scheme involves the provision of a path stretching from Portavogie on the Ards peninsula all the way to the most southerly spot in Northern Ireland at Greencastle on the shores of Carlingford Lough and broken only by the Strangford ferry crossing.

As we reported yesterday, it is being actively examined by Newry, Mourne and Down Council and its neighbour Ards and North Down Council and meetings have already taken place in a number of districts.

Similar pathways have proved extremely popular south of the border and in Wales and offer an opportunity to add to the huge overall growth which has already taken place in walking pursuits.

The Co Down route would open up a range of areas of outstanding beauty to new visitors who would boost the economy while also receiving considerable health benefits.

Its flat terrain would attract people of all ages as well as promoting the more challenging options available in the nearby Mountains of Mourne.

While the project has yet to be fully costed, it is expected to offer excellent value for money during a period of heavy restraints on public spending.

Some issues, including access to and ownership of parts of the land, and navigating rocky parts of the coastline, including the Bloody Bridge district outside Newcastle, remain to be resolved

However, none of these are insurmountable and there is every reason to hope that a carefully phased approach can allow the entire path to be completed without undue delay.

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