Out and about: Sadness at loss of Divis Coffee Barn team

Margaret Muir serving Divis Mountain users at Christmas
Margaret Muir serving Divis Mountain users at Christmas Margaret Muir serving Divis Mountain users at Christmas

WALKERS and outdoor users of Divis Mountain have been voicing their unhappiness at news that the current lease holders at the highest coffee shop in Ireland will not be continuing to operate in 2016.

I have been walking Divis and the Black Mountain for many years and can vouch that the team headed by west Belfast woman Margaret Muir and her able assistants Grainne, Amy and Laura, is by far the best operation to have come out of this charming and unique setting. Staff were informed at Christmas and the Divis tribe of users are understandably upset.

The National Trust has told me that the issue was a matter of the lease running out. The current operators had known of this and had been given an extension, a spokeswoman said.

However, this has done little to comfort the walking, cycling and running foodies who couldn't get enough of the homemade pastries, cakes and soups served by Margaret and co. My sincere regret at your leaving, Margaret. Thanks for all the lovely calories, laughs and dedication over these past years.

WITH everything closed and everyone on holidays, take matters into your own hands and hit the outdoors. The turn of the year is a magical time and if you're looking for somewhere to take the kids on a day out, head to Slieve Gullion Forest Park in south Armagh to visit the fairies.

The Giant's Lair is not only a lovely forest walk just behind the visitor's centre, but also a wonderful journey into childhood. Of course, only very special people see fairies, but at least everyone visiting the portal into the fairy kingdom can see where they live.

There's an enchanting little development of properties along a short walk that includes the home of the tooth fairy, the fairy godmother and even the cool fairy. Entry is free because fairies don't understand money.

For bigger kids or just boring adults, drive up to the second car park and walk the steps up to the Slieve Gullion Neolithic tomb. It's much better and more authentic than the Newgrange site in the Boyne Valley in Co Meath – and it too is free.