The home of Charles Darwin Antrim and Down, Northern Ireland. Last walks of the SPARTAN RED SOX before the deadly strike of Foot and Mouth. 
This is Castlewellan, a forest park in County Down near Newcastle. A nice enough place but a little tame for the Spartans, on this occasion driven by blinding gales and rain from the Mournes to a coffee shop(!) for two hours before embarking on a more sheltered tour around lake, forest and arboretum. The walk was noteworthy for the loss of a gold earring, subsequently found in the middle of a path by a careful retracing of all the steps of the day. The joy was such that considerable celebration was to take place that evening, (the Spartans being well-known for their social activities). 
The Sallagh Braes are hills on the Antrim coast just north of Larne. Winds blow most of the time, moving rain clouds and often leading to clear views towards Scotland. This day, the last before walking was banned in the UK countryside, the sun shone, penetrating anoraks and warming chilled Spartan bodies as they descended from the peak. Approaching Ballyboley forest below, repeated sounds of gunfire could be heard, becoming louder at each passing step.
The group was obliged to walk past this indecent infringement of the environment - an assembly of clay-pigeon shooters strung along the forest path, popping away at the 'pigeons' projected into the air above the trees. Most of us felt distinctly nervous and were glad to be safely round the next corner. Some thought that something would be in order to steady the nerves - cause for an evening of social intercourse perhaps?

 
The Spartans, a walking group catering for all ages, are still very much active and may contacted through Ronnie Carser,e-mail: ronniecarser@yahoo.com
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