Meelmore Lodge

11th June 2020 by David McIlroy Share

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We recently chatted to Sandra from Meelmore Lodge about why this gateway to the Mourne Mountains is perfect for hikers, campers and families visiting the area this summer.

Sandra, how did Meelmore Lodge come about?

Meelmore Lodge is a family run business, established in 2001 by local Farmer and Land Owner Dessie Patterson. The original farmhouse on site was being used as a self-catering holiday house, looked after by Dessie’s wife June. The site had its own private access onto the mountains, which made the holiday house very popular with hillwalkers. The family then decided to build a secure carpark with toilets and showers, and a small coffee shop in the grounds surrounding the holiday house. This was when the site became known as Meelmore Lodge.

In 2007, the holiday house was extended and renovated into a Hostel, providing 28 beds between dormitories and private ensuite rooms.

A small campsite was opened to the rear of the property, which was primarily used by Duke of Edinburgh groups but then started to accept families.

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In 2016, the site received funding from Down District Council and the Tourist Board to develop the site further by building a new amenity block, overflow carpark and expand the coffee shop into a bistro offering a larger variety of food and a larger eating area.

After the redevelopment, June and Dessie’s daughter Sandra came on board to help to look after the running of the Business.

Today, Meelmore Lodge is a hub of activity every weekend, with hillwalker’s parking in our CCTV monitored carpark and using our private lane to access the higher Mournes. They can then return from their walk to avail of the toilets and showers and replenish themselves in our bistro. The Bistro and the Hostel have become very popular for private group bookings, and the Campsite remains open every Spring and Summer for Families and Organised Youth Groups.

The Patterson Family pictured with Ian Pearson at the official opening of Meelmore Lodge
in 2003.

What does it offer to those wanting to explore the Northern Irish outdoors?

Meelmore Lodge is perfectly situated for quick access onto the Mourne Mountains. Our CCTV monitored Car Park is the perfect place to leave your car, knowing it is secure whilst you explore the surrounding area. Less than a 10 minute walk down our private lane and you are straight onto the Mountains. The Mourne Mountains offer something for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. From leisurely walks, mountain hikes, rock climbing, cycling, running, horse riding, bouldering, canoeing and much more.

We also offer a campsite, with stunning views directly onto Slieve Meelmore and The Hare’s Gap. So you can pitch up a tent and enjoy the outdoors lifestyle whilst sitting in front of a campfire and admiring the views (without having to do much physical activity).

The site is surrounded by farmland, so it is quite possible to spot cows or sheep grazing nearby.

What kinds of food and drink do you serve? What’s your speciality?

Our on-site Hare’s Gap Bistro serves everything from coffee and a scone to cooked breakfasts and lunches. All tray bakes and cakes on offer are homemade by our very own mother and daughter team, June and Sandra. Our Meelmore Fry has proved very popular amongst others such as our chicken stack or burgers and chips.

And what are the main attractions/sights nearby?

The biggest attraction at Meelmore Lodge is the beauty of the magical Mourne Mountains on our doorstep. You will not find a more spectacular view to be looking at whilst sitting in our Bistro with a cup of coffee.

We are also quite close to Newcastle and Castlewellan Forest Parks.

Is it pet-friendly, and suitable for families?

Pets are welcome to stay at our campsite but dogs must be kept on a lead at all times (farm animals close by), and must be cleaned up after. We do allow small dogs into our bistro (if they behave) or they can sit beside you outside at our picnic tables.

We do not allow any pets into our accommodation. Families are very welcome.

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As the owner, what’s your favourite thing about it?

I grew up on our family farm just half a mile up the road from Meelmore Lodge with my 2 parents, 2 sisters and my brother. The site has always been a part of my life, even before Meelmore Lodge was established. Whether it was helping my mum with the holiday house or helping my dad in the farm fields to the back of the site. There have been many changes to the site over the years, but there’s one thing that will never change – that view! I could travel anywhere in world, but coming home to the view of The Hare’s Gap and Slieve Meelmore from the rear of Meelmore Lodge, is (what I believe to be) the best view in the world!

Finally, why should visitors choose it as their accommodation?

At Meelmore Lodge, we offer self-catering accommodation in the form of dormitories as well as en-suite family rooms. There is also a self-contained cottage that can sleep 2 adults and 2 children. There is something on offer for everyone. We also let out our full hostel to groups at a reduced rate (sleeps 28 people). Our accommodation is located out in the countryside, 7 miles from the nearest town. There is no traffic, emergency vehicles or drunken youths on the streets after pub closing time. The only sound you will hear will be the sound of the birds singing to wish you a good morning. You can’t beat that.

Find out more about Meelmore Lodge here.

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