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Onwards and Upwards- Two Tough Climbs with Amazing Views

Posted on March 27, 2019 @ 9:00 AM in Walking

Previously on WalkNI we shared our favourite ‘Little Hills With Big Views’ but what about those tougher climbs in the Mournes, that are well worth the extra effort for those breath-taking views? While many of the walks in the high Mournes require extra huffing and puffing, there are two iconic peaks that are a firm favourite amongst walkers.

Tough Climbs in the Mournes

Slieve Donard

Slieve Donard

Voted walkers favourite Mourne Summit in the 2018 WalkNI Awards, at 850m (2,789 ft) Slieve Donard is the highest mountain in the Mournes. A tough climb well worth the effort for its spectacular and extensive views on a clear day across Northern Ireland the Isle of Man, Wicklow, Donegal, Wales and Scotland.

There are two routes to choose from to reach the summit views:

Slieve Donard (via Glen River), 2.9 miles Linear (one way)

The most popular route for walkers exploring Slieve Donard from the seaside town of Newcastle, follow the river uphill from Donard car park through the forest. Emerging from trees the trail continues following the river past the Ice House to the Saddle between Donard and Commedagh. From here follow Mourne Wall as it rises steeply uphill to the tower on the summit of Donard.

Slieve Donard from Bloody Bridge, 3.2 miles Linear (one way) 

Starting from Bloody Bridge Car Park located on the sea side of Donard, again this trail follows a riverside path uphill crossing the river further up via a set of boulders. This twisting trail opens up onto broad track which boasts views across the valley. From this point Slieve Donard is largely hidden, but continue to follow the trail as it zig-zags uphill before reaching an old quarry track which extends 1.4km into the upper valley before skirting (right) along the north side of the quarry. Beyond the quarry the path meets the Mourne Wall at 750m. From here Slieve Donard can be reached by following the Mourne Wall uphill for 1km to the summit.

Slieve Binnian

Slieve Binnian

Slieve Binnian, 7 miles Circular

One of the most popular walks shared with us using #WalkNI on Instagram, it's easy to see why Slieve Binnian is a tough walk that appears on the must explore list of any walker. At 747m (2449 ft) the summit boasts several large granite Tors which provide the perfect resting stop and shelter to enjoy those well-earned views.

Your journey to the summit begins at Carrick Little car park, following a clear, stony track rising gently between fields. Crossing a stone stile beside an iron gate, turn left and follow the Mourne Wall uphill. You will soon feel your leg muscles working as the Mourne Wall rises steeply on the slopes of Slieve Binnian. This is an obvious line to follow for most of the way to the summit. However, before the point where the wall runs into a bare face of granite you should drift to the right and aim for the notch in the top of the mountain. This section involves using your hands and taking care on the rock.

The reward is a spectacular panorama views of the surrounding mountain. In clear weather it’s possible to see the Isle of Man and the Wicklow Mountains beyond Dublin. Pick your way carefully around the base of the Summit Tor and continue walking along the ridge of the mountain following a clear path past the Back Castles. There are a handful of wrinkly little tors that you don’t have to grapple with. Simply enjoy the views as you walk past them. The North Tor is a monstrous outcrop of granite towards the end of the crest, and the path passes it on the left side. 

The ground slopes away more steeply as the path wanders through the heather, past boulders and outcrops of granite on the way down to a prominent gap - the col between Slieve Lamagan and Slieve Binnian. At the col turn right and follow a clear path downhill. This passes close to the Blue Lough and by keeping right at junctions with other paths, you'll be led down to a clear track passing a corner of Annalong Wood. Simply follow the track alongside the Forest fence and return to the iron gate in the Mourne Wall. Cross the wall using the stile and follow the track back to Carrick Little car park.

Don't forget to share your colourful walks with us of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WalkNI

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

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