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The Seefins and Rocky are in a part of the Mournes we have been meaning to explore more of for a while now so we finally ventured to ‘the proper Rocky’, as it has come to be known in our house, on a cold but bright and sunny, blue sky day at the end of November. My boys decided that the Rocky Mountain on the other side of the Mournes just didn’t deserve its name as much as this Rocky Mountain!
We had a few routes in mind after studying the OS map and our go-to hiking guide for the Mournes, Knife Edge Outdoor Guidebook of The Mourne Mountains by Andrew McCluggage. Our route followed parts of walk 25 and 28 from the book and also meant we could tick off three more of the 50 Mourne peaks listed in the Cassie’s Challenge book by Harry Teggarty. Our family peak count now stands at 28/50 so still plenty of climbing required to tick them all off.
We started our walk at Rourke’s Park on the Quarter Road. It is a good starting point on days when the Mournes are likely to be busy as it doesn’t seem to attract the same crowds as Ott car park or Carrick Little. We passed both of these parking areas en route and they were much busier in comparison.
This walk was pretty muddy and boggy in lots of sections so go prepared. This suits my boys down to the ground and makes the walks more fun. A good water feature also adds a bit more fun and excitement!
A few minutes into the walk we turned right onto the Round Seefin footpath. The climbing starts gradually until you cross the stile and turn immediately left up a very steep track. Whilst we stayed on the track the boys preferred a bit of climbing over the rocky outcrop and in less than 30 mins from the start of our walk we had ticked Round Seefin off our list. Even at this height the views over the sea were fantastic.
Continuing over Round Seefin and following the wall across another boggy section it didn’t take long to reach the beautiful stone turret which indicates the start of Mourne Wall. Of course, the boys were more interested in climbing the wall and turret but that gave us a breather and a chance to take in the views over the sea and towards Binnian.
From this point there was a bit more climbing to do following the wall. It was pretty windy so choose the best side of the wall to shelter from the wind, especially if you are doing this with little hikers. It will be a much more pleasant experience.
As we carried on towards our big peak of the day we didn’t even realise we had passed Long Seefin summit until we stopped for snacks at the base of Rocky and looked back. We had crossed the wall using the stone steps and here everything flattened out and gave the legs a rest before hitting Rocky.
After refuelling we started the short climb up the last of the 525m to the top of Rocky. There are some steep sections here but very manageable, even for little legs. The summit cairn is right across the far side of the summit but the views here are pretty spectacular. Seeing the mountains from a different viewpoint was great and the boys had fun naming the peaks they recognised from a different angle. I was eyeing up the Devil’s Coach Road as it is on my to-do list with some friends very soon. It’s definitely not somewhere I’ll be taking the boys any time soon though.
About half-way back down from a very windy Rocky summit we stopped for some hot soup in the November sunshine and I honestly could have stayed in this wee sheltered spot for hours. The mountains are definitely good for the soul and the perfect place to get away from it all. On top of that we have discovered that if we keep the boys well topped up with food there are no (or at least fewer) complaints or questions asking if we are nearly there yet.
We re-traced our steps to the base of rocky but at this point we took a track to the right, veering away from the wall and heading down towards Dunnywater. We often wander about all the tracks and paths we follow in the Mournes. Were they made by farmers to access their land and livestock? Were they made by or for all the men who worked for so many years on the Mourne Wall? Are they a result of all the hikers who have visited the Mournes over the years? It’s always interesting to pick up bits of information along the way.
The last section of the walk was probably the muckiest as we hit the edge of Annalong Wood at Dunnywater then followed the lane back to the car on Quarter Road. One of my favourite views of the day was snapped at the end of our hike and is a reminder to take in the views in every direction.
Don’t forget look back now and again!
Distance: 8.2km / 5.1 miles
Elevation: 410m / 1347 feet
Moving time: 2hrs 10 min
Summits: Round Seefin, Long Seefin, Rocky Mountain
Feel free to follow our adventures on Instagram @the_martins_adventures.
I am a teacher from Dromore, County Down, married to Stuart and we have two boys age 13 and 10. We are a very active family and love to hike, bike, camp, run, swim, SUP, race triathlon and generally anything that involves exploring the great outdoors in NI and further afield.