Murlough north point nature trail
Murlough National Nature Reserve, Keel Point, Dundrum, BT33 0NQRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
With this self-guided nature trail, you'll be able to appreciate the beauty of our Nature Reserve whilst also learning a bit more about the history, biology and conservation work that takes place here.
Please follow these guidelines to avoid disturbing wildlife or damaging the reserve. This 2 ½ mile (4 km) walk takes you through the full range of scenery and habitats in this part of the Reserve, and provides views in all directions, as well as an opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife. If you're looking for a slightly shorter walk, there are two points (4 and 9) where you can easily cut back to the start.
- Bus stop
Start: Keel Point, concrete standing, grid ref: 410351
Follow the avenue from the concrete standing towards Murlough House. Turn right onto the boardwalk which is clearly marked by the ‘To Beach’ sign.
As you follow the boardwalk path down the woodland area, be sure to stop at the gate, where you will be treated to your first glimpse of the sea.
Carry on until you reach the beach. Take a moment to enjoy the wide expense of shingle storm beach that stretches 4 miles (6.4 km) across the bay. Turn left and walk along the beach until you reach the green marker post.
Turn left and take the path that climbs up steeply into marram grass and sea buckthorn and then into a sycamore wood. Turn right before reaching the garden of Murlough House.
Follow straight along the path into the area of woodland, ignore the turn to the left and continue on the path down the slope to emerge on the beach next to the boathouse.
The woodland at Murlough has a wealth of different wildlife. The main species of tree in the woodland behind Murlough House is mainly sycamore with a number of ash but also offers a great array of wildflowers and ferns. There are also some great woodland birds to see and keep an eye out for the sparrow hawks which are very common. As you leave the woodland it's worth having a look at the beautiful old hazel stands.
From the boathouse, turn left and walk along the beach until you reach the green post. Take the path to the left up the bank and back into the hazel path.
At the junction with the main track, turn right and follow the path along the edge (ignoring a turning to the left). Follow the path as it descends into high gorse scrub and turns right onto the beach of the inner bay.
Turn left and walk along the beach until you reach a narrow set of steps up the bank. Go up these steps and follow the path back into the Reserve.
When walking along the beach it's worth looking out for some of our plant species. We have beautiful white bladder campion as well as sea beet and scurvy grass along the top of the shingle. Large beds of two fleshy saltmarsh annuals, marsh samphire and seablite can also be spotted slightly lower on the beach.
As you follow the path, you will come to a point where five paths meet. Take the first left and walk through open heathland and through a squeeze stile to join a main track.
There are plenty of points where heathland can be seen on this walk; it looks its best during spring and summer months. The heathland at Murlough boasts not only ling and bell heather but also a host of beautiful wild flowers such as heath bedstraw, tormentil, eyebright, wild pansy and primrose. Home to loads of creatures, look out for birds like the ground nesting meadow pipits, the dark green fritillary butterfly and kestrels hovering overhead as they hunt. See if you can spot the common lizard which loves to bask in the summer sun.
Turn left and take the next path to the right. This path rises to one of the highest points in this area which provides great views in all directions. From this point continue along the track downhill and to the right which will take you in the general direction of the Mournes Mountains. When you reach the avenue turn left and follow the road back to the starting point.
Follow the road back to the starting point.
End: Keel Point, concrete standing, grid ref: 410351
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)
- Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- OS Map: Discoverer 29 Sheet 4
Some areas of the walk may involve uneven ground and care should be taken. Please be advised that only parts of this walk are disabled access, so it may not be suitable for disabled persons. Dogs should be kept on leads at all times whilst in the Reserve. When possible, please keep to the marked pathways and boardwalks in order to avoid disturbance to wildlife.
- How to get here:
By car: Follow signs on A24, 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Dundrum.
- No immediate local public toilets
- Nearest shops and public houses situated in Dundrum
- National Trust car park (free to members)
- Contact us