The Mountains of Mourne
On a tour of Ireland these magnificent mountains are in the North near the town of Newcastle.
At Ireland Luxury Tours we like to literally drive our clients through the montains to allow them to experience the majesty and wildness of this area. These can be seen on a day tour out of Belfast and are worth considering if you are in Belfast on a cruise ship.
These wild, steep-sided granite hills present an unforgettable aspect. They reach to an average height of about 600m and are largely inaccessible except on foot, though the range is ringed by roads.
If you want to explore the Mourne area, stay in the delightful village of Carlingford over the border in the Republic, or choose one of the eastern coastal resorts. Newcastle is the main tourist centre for the mountains. The resort, though pleasantly set, is of no great interest, but it has a wonderful sandy beach. There are good walks in the nearby forest parks of Tollymore and Castlewellan.
Slieve Donard is the highest Mourne peak at 852m and it is said that on rare, clear days you can see all the countries of the British Isles from its summit ( a relatively safe and easy climb). You will also find a hermit cell up there. At one time the mountains were a remote and ungovernable area inhabited by smugglers. A maze of ancient tracks leads through open moorland and upland pasture, which make excellent walking country. Rock-climbing is popular on the steeper cliff faces.
The most accessible section is a well-marked tourist route called the Silent Valley which leads up to two reservoirs serving the Greater Belfast region. A visitor centre stands here and shuttle buses take tourists from the car park to Ben Crom Reservoir.
The upper sections of the Mourne hills are characterised by tiny fields and dry-stone walls. The Mourne Wall is the largest of these, 35km long and 2m high, built to give employment to local labour, and enclosing the water catchment area around the Silent Valley. Many semi-precious stones have been mined in the slopes around Hare's Gap.