When asked to think of the seaside, many will automatically recall the over-popular Port’s of the North Coast. However for many, the seaside and a good coastal drive, is one along the long meandering roads of the Irish Sea – me included.
For me the perfect ‘milk run’ is not sitting in traffic trying to get between and around ‘The Port’s’ – but one that departs from Newtownards and hugs the western side of Strangford Lough via Whiterock and Killyleagh, before nipping across the mouth of the Lough at Strangford on the drive-on/drive-off boat to Portaferry.
From there – Ballyquintan, Kearney and Cloughy have you hugging some spectacular roads and scenery along the Irish Sea, before reaching the easternmost point of mainland Ireland – Burr Point in Ballyhalbert.
From there, and going northbound, some hidden gems of our vast coastline lie in the guise of Ballywalter and Millisle beaches with Ballymacormick Point and Ballyholme beach usually a nice finishing point to stretch the legs before a celebratory ice cream in Bangor.
Ice cream is close enough to milk and that was the intended purpose of the drive – right?
With such great roads in mind, Carrowdore & Ballyfrenis Presbyterian Church’s organising committee took the decision just two years back, to set up a car run for classic, vintage and cars of interest – the main aim of which was to raise funds for charity.
Having organised an annual tractor run for almost a decade now, they hit the ground running so to speak, with a good marshalling and catering team already in place, as well as the ‘know-how’ when it comes to running such events by the book.
This year the car run event was in aid of ‘Air Ambulance NI’ –a charitable service that has proved invaluable, saving countless lives in the short time we have been blessed with such a service on our shores, and one that is no stranger to attending road traffic incidents.
Money was also raised for the Church’s renovation fund, and despite a very turbulent week weather-wise leading up to the event, almost 90 cars and 1 motorcycle took to the almost 14 mile route on Friday night (August 3) with a refreshing mix of men and women driving cars with grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren and even fur-babies aboard their vehicles.
The run which started from the Church, took on a route to leave Carrowdore of Church Road, New Road, Main Street, Manse Road and into Ballyboley before heading towards Strangford Lough, but not before dropping into the picturesque grounds of Mount Stewart.
Leaving the estate on the Portaferry Road, drivers headed into Greyabbey before cutting cross-country to Ballywalter where after a couple of mile, the spectacular cavalcade came to a halt across from Seaview Caravan Park close to Ballyferis.
In here, we got to see one of the classic Mini’s that once made up one of the worlds largest private Mini collections, housed in the very yard we had assembled. In here drivers got the chance to stretch legs and chat about their pride and joys, whilst it afforded the opportunity for spectators to get up close to the cars also.
From here, cars left for a meandering and undulating drive in-land on route to finishing up at the Church in Carrowdore and for me, the ‘car of the run’ has to go to this ‘Citroen Traction Avant’ from the 1950’s, a car that pioneered the mass production of three, then revolutionary features, still in use today.
Before vanishing home – most came into the church hall for a light supper, while further money was raised via the sale of photo prints from the run and the total raised on the night was announced at a fabulous £1450.
A full gallery of images is available here – CARROWDORE CAR RUN GALLERY
Words & Photos: Graham Baalham-Curry
[images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer]