The Mournes are a stunning mountain range in Northern Ireland blessed with an ethereal beauty that entices locals and visitors alike. But it’s not just their grandeur that makes them special. No, there’s something about the Mournes that speaks directly to the heart. Something invigorating, something inspiring. It’s this unique allure that makes them a hiker’s paradise.
So, if you’re ready for an adventure, lace up your boots, pack your essentials, and join us as we journey through the 10 best hikes in the Mournes. Get ready for breathtaking views, peaceful trails, and experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Welcome to the Mournes, where every path is a story waiting to be discovered. Let’s begin this unforgettable journey, shall we?
The Top 10 Trails in the Mournes
|Donard Park to Slieve Donard||Hard||9.5 km||Slieve Donard, the tallest peak of the Mourne Mountains and Northern Ireland’s highest point, is steeped in mythology and folklore. This trail offers panoramic views of the Irish Sea and surrounds. It’s a challenge, but the sights are worth it.|
|Slieve Binnian and North Tor Circular||Hard||10.9 km||This half-day circular trail leads up to the Slieve Binnian Summit Tor and North Tor, with excellent views of the Annalong Wood and valley, as well as the Silent Valley Reservoir and Ben Crom.|
|Blue Quarry to Doan||Moderate||6.9 km||Starting from the Blue Quarry parking lot, this trail leads through the hills and valleys up a gradual ascent to Doan, providing great views of the lake below and surrounding hills.|
|Trassey’s to Hare’s Gap||Moderate||6.9 km||Hare’s Gap is an impressive mountain pass in the heart of the Mourne Mountains. The trail takes you along Trassey Track to the gap, offering views of the hills and valleys all along the way.|
|Slieve Donard via Brandy Pad||Hard||10.3 km||This challenging route rewards with a stunning view from the summit of Slieve Donard, the highest peak in Northern Ireland. The trail is a sustained climb with rougher and steeper sections near the top.|
|Blue Lough||Moderate||8.0 km||This trail offers impressive views and manageable climbs, with the small lake situated in the middle of the valley looking up to Slievelamagan and Slieve Binnian as a midpoint.|
|Slieve Loughshannagh via Ott Track||Moderate||5.8 km||Taking you to the peak of Slieve Loughshannagh via the Ott Track, this route provides views of the lakes and mountains from the top of the peak.|
|Slieve Bearnagh||Hard||8.2 km||This challenging trail offers the beauty of the Mourne Mountains and views of the reservoir below from Bearnagh. It’s a great route for a day’s hike.|
|Rostrevor Forest and Slieve Martin Circular||Hard||7.9 km||This trail winds through the Rostrevor Forest and up the hill to Slieve Martin, providing panoramic views from the top where you can look down to the bay.|
|Bearnagh and Meelmore||Hard||11.7 km||Located west of Newcastle in the Mourne Mountains, this route provides fantastic views, especially on a clear day all throughout the journey.|
These trails provide opportunities for all levels of hiking enthusiasts, from challenging climbs to moderate and easy walks. They offer not only a great workout, but also spectacular views of Northern Ireland’s majestic landscapes, including its highest peaks, tranquil reservoirs, and sprawling valleys.
Key Mountains and Trails
Slieve Donard is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, standing at 850m. It is a popular climb and offers amazing views of the surrounding area. The most popular route up Slieve Donard is from the town of Newcastle, and it takes around 2-3 hours to reach the summit. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, but it can be steep and rocky in places.
Slieve Binnian is another popular mountain in the Mourne range, standing at 747m. It is known for its distinctive summit tor, which offers amazing views of the surrounding area. There are several routes up Slieve Binnian, but the most popular is from the Carrick Little car park. This route takes around 3-4 hours to complete and is well-marked.
Slieve Meelmore is a popular mountain for hikers, standing at 687m. It is often climbed in conjunction with Slieve Meelbeg, which is a smaller peak nearby. The most popular route up Slieve Meelmore is from the Trassey car park, and it takes around 2-3 hours to reach the summit. The trail is well-marked and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
Slieve Bearnagh is a popular mountain in the Mourne range, standing at 739m. It is known for its distinctive twin peaks, which offer amazing views of the surrounding area. The most popular route up Slieve Bearnagh is from the Meelmore Lodge car park, and it takes around 3-4 hours to complete. The trail is well-marked but can be steep and rocky in places.
The Mountain Trail is a popular hiking route that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the Mourne Mountains. It is a challenging route that takes around 2-3 days to complete, depending on your pace. The trail takes you over several mountains, including Slieve Donard and Slieve Bearnagh, and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
Slieve Gullion is a popular mountain in County Armagh, standing at 573m. It is known for its distinctive summit cairn, which offers amazing views of the surrounding area. The most popular route up Slieve Gullion is from the Forest Park car park, and it takes around 2-3 hours to reach the summit. The trail is well-marked and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
Slieve Meelbeg is a smaller peak near Slieve Meelmore, standing at 708m. It is often climbed in conjunction with Slieve Meelmore, and the route up is well-marked. The trail takes around 2-3 hours to complete and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
Slieve Doan is a popular mountain in the Mourne range, standing at 592m. It is known for its distinctive summit tor, which offers amazing views of the surrounding area. The most popular route up Slieve Doan is from the Ott car park, and it takes around 2-3 hours to reach the summit. The trail is well-marked but can be steep and rocky in places.
Ben Crom is a popular mountain in the Mourne range, standing at 526m. It is known for its distinctive summit tor, which offers amazing views of the surrounding area. The most popular route up Ben Crom is from the Carrick Little car park, and it takes around 2-3 hours to reach the summit. The trail is well-marked but can be steep and rocky in places.
Slieve Bearnagh Hike
The Slieve Bearnagh Hike is a popular hiking route that takes you up and over Slieve Bearnagh. It is a challenging hike that takes around 3-4 hours to complete, depending on your pace. The trail is well-marked but can be steep and rocky in places. The hike offers stunning views of the surrounding area, including the distinctive twin peaks of Slieve Bearnagh.
The Iconic Mourne Wall
If you’re planning a walking trip in the Mourne Mountains, you can’t miss the iconic Mourne Wall. This impressive stone wall stretches for 22 miles (35 km) and is one of the most distinctive features of the area. Built between 1904 and 1922, the wall was constructed to enclose the catchment area for the Silent Valley Reservoirs and protect the water supply.
The Mourne Wall is a popular landmark and an excellent hiking route. You can follow the wall along its entire length, which includes 15 peaks, 7 of which are the highest in the Mournes and Northern Ireland. This challenging hike is known as the Mourne Wall Challenge and is a great way to experience the stunning views of the mountains and the surrounding area.
The wall is made up of granite stones that were quarried from the Mourne Mountains themselves. It is an impressive feat of engineering, with some sections of the wall reaching up to 8 feet (2.4 m) in height. Walking along the wall, you’ll notice the different styles of construction used, which reflect the different time periods in which the wall was built.
The Mourne Wall is also an important part of the local history and culture. It has been the subject of many stories and legends, including the tale of the “Mourne Wall Men”, who were said to have supernatural powers and could walk through the wall. Today, the wall is a symbol of the resilience and determination of the people who built it, and it remains an important part of the local identity.
When it comes to natural attractions, the Mourne Mountains and its surrounding areas do not disappoint. You can find a variety of natural wonders that will leave you in awe. Here are some of the natural attractions you can find while walking in the Mourne Mountains.
The Mourne Mountains are home to several forests, each with its unique charm. Tollymore Forest Park, Castlewellan Forest Park, and Rostrevor Forest are some of the forests you can explore while walking in the area. The forests are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike. You can find a variety of flora and fauna, including some rare species.
The rivers in the Mourne Mountains are a sight to behold. You can find several rivers while walking in the area, including the Shimna River, Glen River and the Kilbroney River. The rivers are not only beautiful but also serve as a habitat for several fish species. You can also find several waterfalls along the rivers, making for a picturesque view.
The Mourne Mountains are home to several lakes, including the Blue Lough and Lough Neagh. The lakes are not only beautiful but also serve as a habitat for several fish species. You can also find several waterfalls along the lakes, making for a picturesque view.
The Mourne Mountains offer several viewpoints that offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. One of the best viewpoints is Slieve Donard, the highest peak in Northern Ireland. From the top, you can see the entire Mourne Mountains and the surrounding areas.
The Mourne Mountains are known for their natural beauty, and you can find several panoramic views while walking in the area. The landscapes are breathtaking, and you can find several spots to take in the views. Whether you’re walking along the coast or hiking up a mountain, you’re sure to find a panoramic view that will leave you in awe.
Heritage and History
Walking through the Mourne Mountains is not just about enjoying the stunning scenery and fresh air. You’ll also be able to immerse yourself in the rich heritage and history of the area.
The Mourne Mountains are a granite range that formed around 56 million years ago. The area is steeped in history, with evidence of human activity dating back to the Neolithic period. The mountains have been shaped by human activity over the centuries, with farming, mining, and quarrying all playing a role in the area’s development.
As you explore the mountains, you’ll come across many reminders of the area’s cultural heritage. For example, there are several ancient stone circles and burial cairns that date back thousands of years. You can also visit the ruins of several old churches and monasteries that were established by St. Patrick and other early Christian saints.
The Mourne Mountains are also steeped in folklore and mythology. According to legend, the mountains were created when the giant Finn McCool scooped up a handful of earth and threw it at a rival giant. The area is also associated with the mythical hero Cú Chulainn, who is said to have trained in the mountains.
If you’re interested in learning more about the area’s culture and history, there are several guided walks and heritage trails available. These walks are led by knowledgeable local guides who can share their insights into the area’s past and present. You can also stop at an information center to buy the reasonably priced pack of route cards known as the “Mourne Mountain Walks” which has been produced by the Mourne Heritage Trust.
Before embarking on any walking route in the Mourne Mountains, it is important to have a good map of the area. The Mourne Mountains are a vast area, and it is easy to get lost without a map. You can find maps of the Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion at the Visit Mourne Mountains website. The website also provides detailed descriptions of the walking routes, along with the level of difficulty and estimated walking time.
When walking in the Mourne Mountains, it is important to have the right equipment. Good walking boots are essential, as the terrain can be rough and uneven. A waterproof jacket and trousers are also recommended, as the weather can change quickly in the mountains. It is also a good idea to bring a map and compass, a first aid kit, and enough food and water for the duration of your walk.
If you are planning to stay overnight in the Mourne Mountains, there are several accommodation options available. There are camping sites, hostels, and bed and breakfasts in the area. The Visit Mourne Mountains website provides a list of accommodation options in the area, along with contact details and prices.
If you are new to walking in the Mourne Mountains, it is recommended that you hire a guide. A guide can help you navigate the area and provide valuable information about the history and geology of the mountains. There are several companies that offer guided walks in the area, and the Visit Mourne Mountains website provides a list of these companies, along with contact details and prices.
If you need further information or assistance, the Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion Visitor Centre is a great resource. Here, you can find maps, guidebooks, and other resources to help you plan your walk. The centre also provides information about the local history and culture, and there are interactive exhibits that are great for children and adults alike.
If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to explore the beauty of the Mourne Mountains with your family, there are several family-friendly walking routes that you can choose from. These routes are perfect for families with young children or those who want to take it easy and enjoy the stunning scenery at a leisurely pace.
One of the top family-friendly routes is the Tollymore Forest Park. This park offers several walking trails that are suitable for families with children of all ages. The park’s Adventure Playpark is also a great place for kids to burn off some energy while you take in the picturesque views.
Another great option is the Silent Valley Reservoir. The reservoir offers a flat and easy walk around the water’s edge, making it perfect for families with strollers or young children. The Sensory Trail is also a must-visit for families with children. This trail is designed to stimulate the senses and is a great way to introduce young children to the wonders of nature.
If you’re looking for a longer walk, the Castlewellan Forest Park is a great option. The park offers several walking trails that range from easy to moderate difficulty. The park’s Peace Maze is also a fun and unique attraction that kids will love.
If you’re looking for a challenge, the Mourne Mountains offer some of the most demanding walking routes in Northern Ireland. Here are a few of the most challenging routes to consider:
Mourne Wall Challenge
The Mourne Wall Challenge is a highly strenuous route that takes in 22 miles (35 km) of the historic Mourne Wall, incorporating the ascents and descents of 15 peaks, including 7 of the 10 highest mountains in the Mournes and Northern Ireland. This is a one-day challenge that should only be attempted by experienced walkers. The route covers open mountain terrain, so good navigation skills are essential.
Slieve Donard is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and one of the most challenging to climb. The route to the summit involves a steep ascent over rocky terrain, but the views from the top are well worth the effort. This is a popular route, so it can get busy during peak times.
Other Mourne Mountain Walks
If you’re looking for a challenging walk that’s not as demanding as the Mourne Wall Challenge or Slieve Donard, there are plenty of other routes to choose from. For example, the route from Newcastle to Rostrevor along the Mourne Way is a challenging but rewarding walk that takes you through some of the most scenic parts of the Mournes.
Easiest Mourne Mountain to Climb
If you’re new to walking or want to take things easy, there are plenty of easier routes to choose from. For example, the route up Slieve Binnian is a relatively easy climb that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, you could take a leisurely stroll around Castlewellan Lake and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.
When you’re finished exploring the walking routes in the Mourne Mountains, there are plenty of other nearby attractions to visit. Here are some suggestions:
Carlingford Lough is a stunning inlet of the Irish Sea that is perfect for a day trip. You can take a boat tour of the lough, go fishing, or simply enjoy the views from one of the many walking trails in the area.
Tollymore Forest Park
Tollymore Forest Park is a beautiful park that boasts stunning views of the Mourne Mountains. The park has a variety of walking trails, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. You can also visit the Game of Thrones filming locations in the park.
Castlewellan Forest Park
Castlewellan Forest Park is another great place to visit if you’re looking for some outdoor adventure. The park has a variety of walking trails, including the Castlewellan Lake Walk and the Annesley Garden Walk. You can also go mountain biking or try the treetop adventure course.
Kilbroney Park is a beautiful park that is perfect for a family day out. The park has a variety of walking trails, including the Kilbroney River Walk and the Fairy Glen Walk. You can also enjoy the play park, tennis courts, and other amenities in the park.
Murlough Bay Nature Reserve
Murlough Bay Nature Reserve is a stunning area of dunes and wetlands that is home to a variety of wildlife. You can take a guided tour of the reserve, go bird watching, or simply enjoy the views from one of the many walking trails in the area.
Newry Canal Way
The Newry Canal Way is a beautiful walking trail that follows the route of the Newry Canal. The trail is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a bike ride, and there are plenty of picnic spots along the way.