Discover More of the Mournes

Posted on May 14, 2015 @ 11:53 AM in Walking

It’s not long to go until the Mourne International Walking Festival happening on 26th-28th June.  An ideal time to discover the delights of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, sample some of the excellent local cuisine and accommodation, enjoy traditional music and most importantly participate in some wonderful walking.

This year the festival base is in the pretty seaside resort of Warrenpoint situated on the shores of Carlingford Lough.  A relaxed and friendly town with quaint shops, bars and restaurants there is plenty to see and do after you've walked to the impressive summits.

Warrenpoint

Relax, Eat & Drink

Located 50 miles to the south of Belfast and approximately 1 1/2 hours from Dublin, Warrenpoint is a great base for walkers wanting some fantastic walking as well as a wide choice of cafés, restaurants and pubs on their doorstep.  Here are some top tips from the locals for places to relax with a coffee or have a bite to eat:

Café – Fulla Beans Coffee & Food Bar
This family run café offers an extensive menu with everything from delicious breakfast baps to healthy soups, bagels and wraps not to mention gourmet burgers.

Restaurant - Fusion
Husband and wife team, Mark and Patrice O’Kane run this gem of a restaurant on Duke Street in Warrenpoint. With a relaxed wine bar feel, fabulous food and welcoming staff, Fusion is the perfect setting for an evening meal with friends or family.

Bar & Grill - Bennett's Seafood Bar & Grill
Established in 1854 as a coaching inn, Bennett’s has remained a hub of activity in Warrenpoint. Nestled in the heart of Warrenpoint, between the Mourne and Cooley Mountains on Carlingford Lough, they specialise in fresh, local seafood, and prime quality steaks with all their seafood caught from Kilkeel Harbour, every morning.  

Hotel – The Whistledown Hotel
Located on the seafront, this independently run hotel boasts two popular restaurants and two lively bars with full cocktail menus. It is also the venue for the social highlight of the festival – the Blister Ball on the Saturday night where you can kick off your boots and socialise with other walkers. This is a casual event with a hot supper and dancing into the small hours.

For more places to refuel check out www.visitmournemountains.co.uk or phone the Visitor Information Centre in Warrenpoint T: +44 (0)28 4175 2256 

What else is there to do in the Mournes?

Whilst walking may be the main focus of your trip to the Mournes we know that most of you will probably also want to explore a little during your stay. Check out some of our ideas for other things to do in the Mourne Mountains all within a 30 min drive.

Things to do Mourne Mountains

Mourne Seafood Cookery School, Kilkeel

The harbour town of Kilkeel is famed for its fabulous seafood and the Mourne Seafood Cookery School, located in the Nautilus Centre, is the place to learn the art of seafood cuisine from highly skilled professional chefs. Find out all about how fish are caught, filleted, handled and cooked, then serve up and enjoy your own meal on one of their popular culinary courses.

Whitewater Brewery Tour, Kilkeel  

All fans of real ale and locally brewed lagers should not miss a trip to Whitewater, one of Northern Ireland’s most loved microbreweries. Also located in Kilkeel, Whitewater produce handcrafted beers from the finest ingredients with no additives and a tour of the brewery will teach you the various processes each bottle goes through before ending up in pubs and bars across Northern Ireland.

Mourne Food Cycle Tour, Newcastle

With the Mourne Mountains as its backdrop, the Mourne Foods Cycle Trail pairs up gentle cycling, stunning scenery and simply delicious food! Devised by the Enniskeen Country House Hotel the trail showcases the wonderful artisan food in this area of Northern Ireland. You will get the chance to stop off with local producers, hear their stories and buy directly from the farmer, before storing your provisions in the specially provided bike panniers adding to this unique and memorable experience.

Soak Seaweed Baths, Newcastle

This multi award winning alternative seaweed bath house and spa is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day in the hills. Located on the seafront in Newcastle, Soak offers a place to be spoiled in silky hot seaweed baths or enjoy rejuvenating spa treatments.

mourne mountains things to do

Outdoor Action

If you fancy a bit of variety from just hillwalking, there are a whole host of other outdoor activities available in the area. Everything from the Kilkeel Cycle Route, a 28 mile (45km) circular route around the foothills of the Mournes, to mountain biking around purpose built trails at Castlewellan Castlewellan (also home to a fantastic scenic walk trail network) or Rostrevor Forest Park to rock climbing or sea kayaking along the South East Coast Sea Kayak Trail. You can be rest assured that on your trip to the Mournes there will be plenty to keep you busy. Visit OutdoorNI.com for a whole host of other activity ideas to try out during your stay in the Mourne Mountains. 

Golf

The Royal County Down Golf Club is located in one of the world's most naturally beautiful links settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve. Located on the edge of Newcastle, it is one of the oldest courses in Ireland and is widely regarded as one of the best in the United Kindgom.  Against the magnificent backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne, the links stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay, zigzagging back and forth to provide a different vista from virtually every hole. 

Enjoy your time exploring the Mourne Mountains! 

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

Top 5 Walks in the Mournes

Posted on May 13, 2015 @ 9:46 AM in Walking

The highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland, there is no shortage of walks with fabulous views and breath-taking hills to climb in the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down.  With so many to choose from we’ve put together a list of the top 5 viewed walks in the Mourne Mountains on WalkNI.com. Click on the links below for downloadable route descriptions and maps:

1. Slieve Donard via Glen River

Distance: 2.9 miles (one way) linear

Slieve Donard

No list of top walks in the Mournes would be complete without including Northern Ireland’s highest summit, Slieve Donard (850m (2,789 ft)).  The most well-trodden way to the top, this route begins in Donard Park and follows the Glen River to the saddle between Donard and Commmedagh before meeting the Mourne Wall for the final ascent to the summit.   Expect extensive views from the top as the mountains sweep down to the sea opening up views from Newcastle to the Isle of Man, Wicklow, Donegal, Wales and Scotland.  For an alternative route to the top check out Slieve Donard via Bloody Bridge

2. Slieve Binnian

Distance: 7 miles circular

Slieve Binnian

This fantastic circular walking route begins at Carrick Little Car Park and follows the Mourne Wall to the summit of Slieve Binnian (the 3rdhighest peak at 747m). It then traverses between the spectacular South and North Tors before descending along a track past the Blue Lough, Annalong Forest and back to Carrick Little car park near Annalong village.  You’ll encounter fine panoramas along the way with the striking Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs below and towering summits beyond providing dramatic views. 

3. Bearnagh and Meelmore

Distance: 6 miles circular

Slieve Bearnagh and Meelmore

A strenuous walk this route takes in the peaks of Slieve Bearnagh (one of the most distinctive mountains in the Mournes, renowned for the granite tors on its summit (739m)) and Slieve Meelmore (704m), finishing by walking down Happy Valley and along a section of the Ulster Way. This circuit uses the Mourne Wall as a handrail on the higher parts of the mountain and offers superb views on a clear day stretching as far as the Sperrins, Lough Neagh and Strangford Lough.

4. Mourne Wall Challenge

Distance: 22 miles circular

Mourne Wall Challenge

A 1 day challenge following the 22 miles (35 km) of the historic Mourne Wall this highly strenuous route incorporates the ascents and descents of 15 peaks including 7 of the 10 highest mountains in the Mournes and Northern Ireland. Taking over 18 years to complete between 1904 - 1922 many skilled people were employed seasonally to build this stone wall which stands up to 8ft high and 3ft wide. Not for the faint hearted it is sure to reward you with a truly unique experience.

*Group numbers of no higher than 12 should attempt this route in one go, due to erosion issues around the fragile Mourne wall.

Hen cock and pigeon rock

Distance: 5.9 miles circular  

Hen Cock and Pigeon Rock

A circular route in the western Mournes giving a taster of views that can be experienced in the region. The route ascends Hen, Cock and Pigeon Rock Mountains using open mountain terrain before descending through a valley to the starting car park.  Expect interesting rock formations and luscious green grass of the surrounding countryside. 

Latest comment posted by WalkNI on July 5, 2016 @ 4:36 PM

Hi Paul, Great to hear you are interested in the Mournes we will email you details. Read more >

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

The Heritage of the Mournes

Posted on May 11, 2015 @ 5:01 PM in Walking

Mourne Mountains

Have you ever wondered why there are towers in the Mourne Wall?  Did you know there used to be a railway line in the mountains?  Ever thought about who was responsible for the Gothic gate arches in Tollymore Forest Park?

The Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is brimming with natural and built heritage with many fascinating stories to be told.  In attempt to give us an insight into this colourful history the Mourne Mountains Landscape Partnership has released a suite of short films to help raise awareness of the rich built and industrial heritage of the Mourne Area.

Showcasing a number of projects that have been enhanced in recent months the short videos focus on the Granite Trail, Water Towers and the follies in Tollymore Forest Park to help bring to life the stories of the landscape.

Check out the videos for yourself below:

The Granite Trail

The Granite Industry in Mourne dates back to the 1800s when it provided much needed jobs for local people. This film uncovers the remarkable story of the local men who used their skills to turn a natural asset into a famous industry.

The Mourne Water Towers

This short film presented by Dawson Stelfox MBE (the first Irishman to climb Mount Everest) provides an overview of the history of the 3 Water or Summit Towers which are features of the 22 miles long Mourne Wall  (constructed between 1904 and 1922). The towers are located on the summits of Slieve Donard, Commedagh and Meelmore.

The History of Tollymore Follies

This film provides an overview of the history associated with a number of the unique follies and structures in Tollymore Forest Park, Co Down. These structures, some of which date back to the 1700s, are excellent examples of the rich built heritage of the Mourne area.

Tollymore Follies Restoration

Chris McCollum, conservation building surveyor, describes the delicate restoration skills and techniques used to preserve these unique structures for future generations to enjoy.   

Find out more about the Mourne Heritage Trust and the work they do in the Mourne Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty. 

Latest comment posted by I enjoyed these presentions a lot , and learnt something. on June 21, 2015 @ 6:04 PM

Very cood Read more >

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

Going Against the Flow - Wet Bouldering with Outdoor Concepts

Posted on May 8, 2015 @ 4:18 PM in Adventure

A firm believer in not letting Northern Ireland’s notorious weather quite literally rain on my parade it was exactly this attitude that led me to standing in a car park… in March… in the freezing cold rain…trying to convince my friend that it was definitely a good idea to go and jump in a river.

Don’t worry sporadic submersion isn’t part of my usual weekend plans we were at the foothills of the Mourne Mountains to try out Wet Bouldering with Outdoor Concepts. This adrenaline pumping activity involves walking, scrambling, jumping, swimming and sometimes crawling along a river making the most of rock slides, plunge pools, mini waterfalls and fast flowing water.

The day started with a short 50 minute road trip from Belfast to Newcastle, Co. Down; ipod shuffle blasting out guilty pleasures with wild abandon.  Always keen to incorporate food where possible we stopped at the Anchor Bar in Newcastle for a bite to eat, leaving plenty of time to digest before heading to our meeting place at Bloody Bridge car park, less than a 5 minute drive out of Newcastle along the coast, window wipers in full flow. 

mournes outdoor activities

The highest mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains are best known for the many spectacular walking routes however the combination of sea and mountains and the fact it is home to Bloody Bridge River make this the perfect location for wet bouldering in Northern Ireland.

With the rain not looking like it would ease off anytime soon this was actually a rather good incentive to get changed into our wetsuits for the afternoon – so at least the water could warm us up!  Everyone in the group got changed and the instructors kitted us out with everything we needed including wetsuits, helmets & buoyancy aids.  Nobody denied it would be cold but everyone was still keen and raring to go.  After a few introductions we had a safety briefing and a quick chat over what we would be doing (the water level was higher than normal so the session had to be adapted slightly however with the instructors knowing the river like the back of their hand there was still plenty of action to be had). We headed along the Mourne Coastal Path for a 2 minute walk to get to the river - despite the drab day the shoreline was still stunning with the Mournes showing off their unique position beside the sea and the river cascading down in between.

mournes wet bouldering

At our starting point and all nervously waiting to get in, our instructor Simon told us there was only one way to do it (and whatever ‘Simon Says’ you do, right?)  This involved a ‘trust fall’ back into the water (with some clinging onto Simon longer than others!) to discover the river was not so trusting as the cold water trickled in.  One by one everyone took turns to get submerged and sadistically enjoy everyone’s reactions as they emerged from the icy water in a not so graceful manner. 

Wet Bouldering Northern Ireland

Once the initial shock of the water subsided it didn’t take long for the wetsuits to get to work and warm us up.  Next was a quick scramble up the river to our first water slide down a flat slab of rock; into the white water below.  Continuing up the river we headed through a large tunnel with the Mournes towering above providing an impressive sight on the other side.  After a charming tale of a massacre that tainted the river red to give it its name we followed Simon to our next challenge. 

Mournes Wet Bouldering

Working as a team we conquered a section of fast flowing river by using a rope to pull against the current before scaling a small section of rock beside a waterfall.  Simon was on hand at all times to show us the best and safest places to put our feet and hands and to provide any literal shoves in the right direction. One of the last to go I heaved myself up over the edge to see my audience watching as I made something relatively easy look immensely hard but I got up none the less and at least my efforts provided some entertainment for everyone along the way!  The session continued with a cannon bomb competition before learning how to cross over fast flowing parts of the river without flying downstream. For those whose balance was questionable there was a safety rope in place for reassurance.  A few of the group even faced their fears by squeezing through a seemingly impossible tight rock passage.  Although in our groups case most challenges were met with excitement there was never any pressure for anyone to do anything they didn’t want to.  Dubious about whether we would all fit, once the first person manned up and went through it wasn’t long until everyone wanted a go. 

mourne mountains outdoor activities

After an hour of scrambling, jumping, laughing and general tomfoolery in the water we made our way across the river one last time to the path and back to the car park – everyone buzzing about the experience.  After a quick change we jumped in the car; heaters blasting the whole way home we reminisced about the afternoon as in true Northern Irish style the sun finally came out.

Activity Provider:

Outdoor Concepts

+44 (0)28 9073 7271

admin@outdoorconcepts.co.uk

www.outdoorconcepts.co.uk

Cost:

Cost per person £30 per adult £25 per child for a 3hr session.

(includes all specialist equipment,  no experience required)

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

In Focus with Industry Image

Posted on May 8, 2015 @ 10:19 AM in Mountainbiking

My interest in photography began almost 12 years ago after I received a small 'point and shoot' camera as a present. Over time my passion for photographing action and extreme sports has grown and I now love the challenges they pose. 

Industry Image

My goal in creating Industryimage was to provide a photography service for events, magazines and product manufacturers. The incredible recent development of mountain biking across Northern Ireland has enabled me to really hone my skills in mountain bike photography however I also cover a range of sporting disciplines, from cyclosportives to multi-discipline adventure racers.  

Event Planning

Since my very early days as a motorsport photographer I learnt very quickly that planning for the event is the key to any successful photography shoot.

Industry Image

My typical planning for a mountain bike event would involve talking to local riders, gathering information, scrutinizing maps and even walking the track a day or two before the event, making decisions regarding the best locations of where and when to shoot each feature.  

 

What’s in the bag?

I’m a Canon man, that’s not to say other cameras can’t cut it, but when you decide on one manufacturer’s system then you’re pretty much on that road for life, as it would cost a small fortune to change 12 years later.  

Industry Image

My gear mainly consists of a range of lenses from 15mm right up to 300mm, with my Sigma 35mm f1.4 and my Canon 70-200mm f2.8 being my most used.  I use two camera bodies, a 1d mk3 and a 5d mk2. I also carry in my bag a set of remote flash triggers, small tripod and gorillapod, numerous memory cards, and enough flash power to light up a small stadium!  As a general rule, I would advise anyone starting out to spend their money on a good lens instead of trying to buy the latest camera body. All camera manufactures these days tend to update their range of bodies every 18 months, and hence your body will lose value very quickly, unlike your lens. I would therefore tend to buy a used camera body a few years old and a new lens.   

Mountain Bike Events

As most mountain bike events either take place in a forest or pass through one, low light can pose one of the major problems for photographers. Working in this low light environment requires me to use one or more flashguns to help illuminate the scene and the rider.  The key to using flash in this type of environment is to balance the amount of flash used with the natural or ambient light present, so as not to over-power the scene and make it look too unnatural. 

Industry Image

At these events I typically use off camera flash, meaning the flash is not mounted directly on the camera body, but is set-up and triggered remotely.  Off camera flash generally gives a more pleasing and natural result compared to on camera. As modern cameras become more sensitive and better at working in these low light environments, the need to use flash will lessen, but until then, flash is your friend.

Industry Image

Post event

After the event is over and all the photographs have been taken, my work then moves to the computer where photos are downloaded from memory cards. A process of sorting, tagging and editing of images takes place normally into the small hours of the event evening. 

Industry Image

Adobe Lightroom has been my main choice of software application over the last few years. It makes editing and cataloging of images at each event much easier and faster and allows you to return to these event images, weeks, or even years later.  When editing the images is complete, they are then uploaded via ftp to my website for client and competitor viewing.      

Industry Image

I hope this has given you an insight into the work of Industryimage, and what goes into the setup and planning of an event trip. As with most things photography is a learning process, I constantly strive to learn new things and think of ways to develop my photography business and services, my hope being, to provide the best possible captured memory for all event participants, from novice to professional. 

Latest comment posted by erika pieu on October 25, 2017 @ 10:53 AM

Thanks for sharing. if you need any image editing service. hope you will contact with us. Best regards https://www.expertclipping.com Read more >

Warren McConnaughie
Warren McConnaughie  Industry Image Photography

Warren McConnaughie is a sports photographer based in Antrim, with a particular passion for action and extreme sports. Warren is the owner of Industryimage Photography which provides creative imagery to event competitors, product manufacturers and editorial publications throughout UK and Ireland – www.industryimage.com

Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog outdoorni.com walkni.com cycleni.com canoeni.com