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 Northern Ireland – Burr Point, Ballyhalbert.
From there, and going northbound, some hidden gems of the Irish Sea 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 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 last year 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 [read our thoughts on this year’s event here] 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 event was in aid of ‘CLIC Sargent NI – Cancer support for the young’ – a very worthy cause offering support and care for the young as well as providing support for their families during difficult times. Fiona McCann from CLIC Sargent was on hand at registration with her team of helpers to welcome everyone to the car run.
Money was also raised for the Church’s renovation fund and despite a very turbulent week weather wise leading up to the event, a staggering 96 cars took to the almost 14 mile route on Friday night (August 4) with a refreshing mix of men and women driving cars with grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren and even fur-babies on-board the 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 straight across the crossroads and along Carrowdore Road, North Street and into Greyabbey.
Avoiding the centre of the village, the large cavalcade proceeded along Church Street, Ballywalter Road and Greyabbey Road before entering Ballywalter Park, the private home of the Dunleath family and participants got a glimpse of a true hidden gem as they made their way through yards and along the drives of the private estate.
Leaving the estate on the Springvale Road, cars made the short journey onto Main Street and into Ballywalter Harbour, officially the start of the seaside route where the spectacular turnout stopped on the pier for a regroup, leg stretch and chat about all things motoring with like minded others.
It was also a great opportunity for a group photo as well as a chance to stand back and absorb the vastness of this event, a sight to behold in such early days for the organisers of this car run. Support came en masse from several clubs including the MG Car Club, Morris Minor Club and the Thoroughbred Sports Car Club all of whom were well represented within the convoy.
A nice surprise on the night, especially for rally fans was the participation of Ari Vatanen’s former co-driver, Terry Harryman – Terry was debuting his recently restored NSA 1200c with son Allan at the helm whilst Terry was, i assume in nature, calling pacenotes of some description.
From the harbour, cars left for a meandering and undulating coastal drive along Whitechurch Road through the villages of Ballyferris and Ballywhiskin before touching the outskirts of Millisle where the procession turned up the Woburn Road and hugged the edge of Carrowdore Estate on route to finishing up at the Church in Carrowdore.
Before vanishing home – everyone 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 £1400.
Organiser Mark Lemon commented ‘ The event attracted a fantastic array of cars from the 1928 Hillman, the competition MK2 Escort and Mini Cooper S, variety of MGs, through to the TVR and Aston Martin: a great night for all car enthusiasts, friends and family to have fun and raise funds in support of a worthy cause’.
At pre-event event registration – support was given from several local businesses as drivers got some freebies such as pens, air fresheners and stickers provided with thanks to Used Cars NI and Blackwater Graphics respectively whilst spot prizes on the night were donated by Colin Adams Motorparts, North Down Motor Factors and RJs Car Restoration.
A full gallery of images is available here – CARROWDORE CAR RUN GALLERY
Words & Photos: Graham Curry
[images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer]