Mourne Mountains

10 rewarding routes under 15km in the Mournes

15th October 2020 by David McIlroy Share

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The Mourne Mountains are a sprawling playground for those who love nothing more than to stretch their legs and muddy their boots. From towering peaks to hidden hills, there’s something for everyone in this little Northern Irish mountain range.

However, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. How much time should you allocate for your hike? When’s the best time to start? How many kilometres should you aim to cover?

There’s no easy answer, of course – everyone’s different and will experience individual hiking routes in a way that’s unique to them and their personal level of fitness. And remember: walking, jogging or running a distance on relatively flat ground is one thing; covering the same distance over a number of peaks and hundreds of metres of elevation is another thing entirely. So even if you’re fit as a fiddle on the flat, scaling mountains can drastically alter the time and energy you’ll require to get from point A to point B.

But don’t let that put you off – with a little careful preparation and an understanding of your own body, you can comfortably make it to your destination and back home in time for a celebratory takeaway (that’s how everyone caps off a day in the mountains, right?).

Here are ten routes in the Mournes under 15km with super rewarding visual payoffs along the way.

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1. Lough Shannagh from Trassey (14.5km)

The longest trail in our list, this route starts at Trassey car park and winds its way up the track towards Hare’s Gap before branching off to the Pollaphuca between Bearnagh and Meelmore on the way to Lough Shannagh. Watch out for the dreaded Púca!

Route description here.

2. Slieve Donard from the Bloody Bridge (12km)

A more familiar route to many, this 12km jaunt started and ends at the Bloody Bridge, taking in Northern Ireland’s tallest peak along the way. It’s usually a less-busy approach to the summit of Donard.

Route description here.

3. Slieve Corragh via Trassey Track (12km)

Another route making use of the Trassey Track, this trail sees you skirt around the rocky ascent to Hare’s Gap and continue on up Slievenaglough and across to Slieve Corragh, where you’ll get fantastic views towards Ben Crom Reservoir.

Route description here.

4. The Slieve Binnian Loop (11.5km)

Mandatory pose alert! The Binnian loop starts and ends at Carrick Little and can be tackled in either direction. This particular route description takes you straight up the Mourne Wall to the castle-like summit, where the views are simply stunning.

Route description here.

5. Bearnagh, Meelmore and Meelbeg from Trassey (12.5km)

Why climb one mountain when you can notch three at once? If you fancy more of a challenge, have a go at this route and tick Bearnagh, Meelmore and Meelbeg off your list.

Route description here.

6. Eagle Mountain and Slieve Moughanmore (12km)

The Western Mournes are almost always quieter than the better-known High or Central Mournes, yet some of the best peaks in the range are in this region. If you prefer a bit of solitude while taking in some fantastic mountain-top views, this one could be for you.

Route description here.

7. Slieve Doan via the Banns Road (13.7km)

Slieve Doan is most often approached from Ott car park, but the trail via the Banns Road offers something a bit different. Next time you’re planning for Doan, consider trying this route instead.

Route description (Banns Road to Lough Shannagh) here.

8. Slieve Commedagh from Newcastle (10.3km)

Commedagh is often overlooked in favour of her slightly taller neighbouring peak, but the views from her summit across the valleys below are generally more pleasing to the eye. This route starts and ends at Newcastle, where your options for a post-trek feast or pint are plentiful.

Route description here.

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9. Hare’s Castle from the Head Road (10.5km)

You may not have heard of Hare’s Castle because it’s really just a rocky outcrop jutting out of the Annalong Valley, but it’s well worth visiting next time you’re in the Mournes. The journey to it is easy and very rewarding.

Route description here.

10. Chimney Rock from the Bloody Bridge (12km)

Our final route on the list once again starts at the Bloody Bridge, only this time you’ll veer left once you hit the Mourne Wall and head for the summit of Chimney Rock instead of Donard. Look out for the remains of the quarry railroad track still clinging to the side of the mountain.

Route description here.

And there you have it – ten rewarding routes under 15km in the Mourne Mountains. Have a go and tell us how you get on!


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