100-year old Mourne wall gets a face lift
This most recent phase of the Mourne Wall Restoration Project saw over 600 repairs undertaken along the 22mile-long granite structure – including a 27m collapse on Slieve Bernagh – as well as extensive path works. The project, which was originally estimated to take four years, was completed in less than two.
Hand built by the Belfast Water Commissioners between 1904 and 1922 to mark and protect the 9,000-acre water catchment which feeds the Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs, the Mourne wall has been a listed building since 1996 and today is in the ownership of NI Water.
NI Water together with lots of partners including Geda Construction, local stonemasons, RPS, Mourne Heritage Trust, NIEA, and Trustees of Mourne, led the major project and the National Trust helped by donating missing capping stones.
Trust donate 35,000 stones
Working through all types of weather, the restoration team hiked up to 6km a day to carry out the repairs. Fortunately, for the bulk of the restoration work, the stone was lying adjacent to the wall however some 35,000 missing capping stones – weighing up to 120kg each - were donated by the National Trust, sourced from local quarries and transported to site by helicopter. Once on site, they were rolled into placed using age-old methods.
In addition to the wall repairs, an extensive length of path works were undertaken in conjunction with Mourne Heritage Trust (MHT) to future-proof the restoration work and protect the integrity of the wall.
As well as preserving the integrity of the wall’s foundations, the path works will protect a wide corridor of European designated heathland that was undergoing loss due to ever-widening erosion scars as visitors tried to find a ‘walkable’ route. With almost 90,000 journeys recorded on Slieve Donard it is vital that such works are undertaken to sustain the access to Northern Ireland’s highest peak that is loved by so many.