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Explore the Mournes mountain range

Walkers ascending a path towards Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains, County Down
Walkers ascending a path towards Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Explore the highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland. Beloved by hikers, hillwalkers and cyclists the Mournes have also long inspired songwriters and storytellers, and influenced C.S. Lewis to write ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.’ It's a landmark of international importance, its 12 peaks have been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and with miles of footpaths to explore, there's plenty to see and do.

Walking in the Mournes

Over 525 hectares to explore

The Mournes have been voted one of Ireland’s favourite walking destinations and it’s easy to see why.

The network of paths and tracks that cross over this mountain range are not all for the faint-hearted, but the views of the valleys, lakes, rivers and reservoirs make it well worth the climb.

We care for 526 hectares of the Mournes, which takes in part of Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh and includes Bloody Bridge.

12 peaks to reach

Hugging the County Down coastline, the Mournes structure is made up of 12 peaks that extend into an area only 15 miles by 8 miles (24 x 13 kilometres), each mountain rising above 600m with the highest being Slieve Donard which towers above 852 metres.

A picturesque bridge

The name ‘Bloody Bridge’ refers to a massacre at the site during the 1641 rebellion, when the bodies of slain prisoners were thrown over the bridge into the river turning the water red.

Despite its gory history, the area is one of the most picturesque spots for a walk in the Mournes, and an excellent spot to begin an ascent to Slieve Donard.

For experienced walkers

This area is particularly steep in points and should only be attempted by experienced walkers. The climb to the summit is strenuous but worth it for the spectacular view over the County Down coast, Newcastle town and Murlough Dunes - and on a clear day you can even see across to Scrabo Tower and the Isle of Man.

An easier walk

Alternatively, the Glen river path leads up to the saddle (or col) between Donard and Commedagh, and the Mourne Wall which is a well-known feature in the Mournes.

If you’re looking for a sea breeze, you can also take a wander along the Mournes coast path. The paths run from the rocky coastline of Dundrum Bay to the lower slopes of the Mourne Mountains, linking ‘true’ mountain with open sea.

Walkers passing by a stream on Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains, County Down
Walkers passing by a stream on Slieve Donard | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Top tips

  • Please be careful when visiting the Mournes, especially in periods of bad weather.
  • Remember to wear appropriate footwear, bring water and food if attempting a long hike.
  • Make sure you have researched how long your route will take, being aware of the time of the sunset and the possible changes in weather.
  • Respect the mountains and please take your rubbish home with you.
A view across water to the Mourne Mountains in the distance surrounded by foothills and trees

Discover more at The Mournes

Find out how to get to The Mournes, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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Slieve Donard, Mourne Mountains, County Down, Northern Ireland

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We’re carrying out conservation work at the Mournes Mountains in Northern Ireland to help the area recover from damage caused by wild fires and adapt to the effects of climate change. Find out how measures such as conservation grazing, wildlife surveys and new technology are protecting fragile habitats and supporting nature.


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