Track for the day:
The kindly aviators who ran us into town the day before had seconded our original airlines ideas and mentioned an additional strip called Slieve croob. It’s nestled into the mountain side due south of newtonards and has quite an interesting approach. Sounded like just our thing! 😉
We arrived back at the airfield at the by now regular time of lunch and prepared for departure. As we were getting low on fuel we topped off the tanks and also picked up a couple of new issue Northern charts; these had been issued a couple of days earlier and hence we weren’t able to order them prior to departure.
A look around the building at newtonards found some interesting details; the building we were standing in was opened by none other than Douglas Bader the well renowned WWII fighter ace.
Following a lovely fresh brew from the well appointed cafe ‘Cloud 9’ we boarded our mount for the days flying ahead.
We took a route that followed the coast out to the west, not only did it keep us out of the way of Belfast City but it was by now our trademark of the holiday having covered almost the entire ROI coast.
Slieve croob was the first stop and for that we needed to head back inland over County Down toward the Dromara hills. So we struck out west toward the mast on the tallest peak which turns out to be on the highest
point of our destination range.
The airfield itself is nestled into the mountainside with a cabin on the eastern side and the rising mountain to the west, we approached from the south and set up for a T’n’G.
It’s actually much larger than it originally appeared and we had no trouble getting in or out. In fact one of the locals was waving from the industrial unit out to the north west as we went overhead so in the manner to which we had become accustomed it was time for the inimitable wing waggle 😉
After that we proceeded round the south east coast of Northern Ireland toward 2 strips that had been recommended to us: Killeel and Aughrim. Which are affectionately know as bottom field and top field respectively. And we can see why, they are very close, with aughrim sitting in the lee of the mountain and Killeel lower down on the flat lands closer to the coast.
We’d heard about Aughrim in the previous couple of days and had subsequently called the owner who was more than happy to have us pop in. In the end we didn’t make it at the time we said and therefore no-one was available to meet us but we’d learned to make tea for ourselves during the trip already anyway.
As we approached aughrim it had a marked uphill gradient, conveniently directly into wind, which at the time we estimated to be about 20kts.
However, the departure of course had the opposite assuming we were to depart downhill with a tailwind.
We walked the runway length to satisfy ourselves of the point of no return and the braking surfaces available. At the end of the runway there was even an overrun field which was itself approx 200m long.
In the end, the departure was uneventful but it’s always wise to check.
As we routed west back across Northern Ireland to enniskillen we followed the FIR boundary but as the land border doesn’t follow the same path we ended up over the ROI at some points, interesting how difficult it must have been to actually try and police the border!
As we approached Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh there were a couple of mild downpours which we managed to avoid and arrived safely on the 1.5Km runway before taxiing back to the control building.
By the time we had tethered down and were ready to depart it was after 5 and the guys were ready to lock up form the night. However, it was no trouble and they made us feel very welcome even though they were probably late for tea!
A taxi ride later and we were sitting with 2 pints of the black stuff in the Enniskillen hotel, putting the world to rights!
4 hours later; 2 English blokes having just demolished a curry are looking for a watering hole but as the licensing laws don’t have the same relaxed timbre as the ROI we thought we were out of luck.
That is until a couple of already half cut local lads took us under their wing and showed us into the late night bar.
Where we found a very relaxed atmosphere; cut to 02:30, a handful of pints and several jäger bombs later when we decided it was time to head back to the digs.