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Family-Friendly Mourne Mountains

A Sunset on Slieve Martin 

8th June 2021 by Laura Maginn Share

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We like a slow start on the weekends: a coffee, some eggs and a bit of Radio 2. We’re lucky to be pulling out of the drive before 11 o’clock. It’s unlikely, therefore, that you’ll find us on a sunrise hike any time soon.

I’ve been thinking, however, about a sunset hike for a while now. You often see Doan recommended for a sunset hike and I can appreciate that for the relatively short distance and the spectacular views you get from Doan at any time of the day. However, the thoughts of traipsing my lot over the bog with the light disappearing didn’t appeal to me. Nor did the possibility of losing the wee man in the dark to a sink hole in the Ott Track! Enter: Slieve Martin.

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A lot of routes online for Slieve Martin take you via the Cloughmore Stone, which is fine if you have time to kill but a look at the mapping app told me I could get up there through the forest. We stayed in Kilbroney last summer in our little caravan and gave it a go, and sure sure enough it worked just fine. Roughly a mile up and a mile down on a route we’d completed before seemed like a good shout for our first sunset hike!

I kept a close eye on the weather app for a few days before because I knew I’d be gutted to get there and not get the views. The weather apps will also tell you what time the sun sets. Weather looking good, we packed the BBQ and the backpacks and headed off. Can you call a sausage in a bap a BBQ!?

With sausages cooked and eaten in the top car park on arrival, we set out just before 8pm.

As we had done before, where you turn right for the stone, we instead turned left and weaved our way ever upwards through the forest. Slieve Martin is the peak on the left at the top of the track. There’s a great climb up to the top at the end which really feels like climbing a mountain for the kids!

The views are hidden until you reach the peak and you won’t be disappointed. I knew instantly we’d made a good call. The sky was clear and the sunset was spectacular.

We took the time to take some photos on the trig and in true #forthegram style, made a time lapse! If you’ve never been up here, you will find the most perfectly-positioned bench from which to savour the sunset.

When the sun had set, we retraced our steps back through the forest and made it down with just enough light to spare to toast a few s’mores before we headed for home. Yes, it was a late night. Yes, everyone was exhausted. And yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat!

The whole thing took us (kids aged 11, 9 and 5) one and a half hours. Rostrevor Forest is huge and you definitely don’t want to get lost up there in the dark, so be sure to mark this out on the map before you go.

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We made a last-minute decision on leaving the house to wear trainers, knowing that it would be a short hike up through the forest. I have to say this was a bad decision in hindsight. No issue on the way up but on the way down the children spent more time on the forest floor than on their feet.

So, boots recommended!

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