Slieve Muck ( Sliabh Muc ) • 673m
Muck is a lesser known peak in the Mournes, but still one of the highest, coming in rank just below number 7 of the big Seven Sevens (Slieve Meelmore) and still with some of the finest views in the entire mountain range.
It’s a coincidence that Slieve Muck is one of my favourite hikes and shares the same name as one of my all-time favourite mountains Muckish (an Mhucais), found in the beautiful rugged wilderness of North West Donegal. The name, however, is probably less of a coincidence due to both mountains having a similarly large, fairly flat summit like a ‘pig(muc)’s back’.
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As is usual with most of the Mournes there are a few different routes you can take to summit Slieve Muck. Depending on what you feel like and how much time you have on your hands, you can hike the trails that also take in the surrounding area of Lough Shannagh and some of Muck’s neighbouring summits like Slievenaglogh, Carn and Doan, but my favourite way to tackle Muck is to just park at the foot of the mountain and start climbing!
If you drive past Spelga dam and reservoir and keep to the right onto Moyad road driving towards Kilkeel, you will see a small lay-by on the right-hand-side a few hundred yards down called the Deer’s Meadow car park – pull in here, slip on your boots, cross the road, climb the stile and up you go!
Muck is a steep, strenuous climb; it’s also quite boggy and awkward in parts due to lots of little streams flowing down its grassy banks (Muck by name, mucky by nature!). These little streams are actually the source of the River Bann – they run into Spelga reservoir and the river then runs through to Lough Neagh and on to the Newry Canal, and finally out to the Irish Sea!
The terrain on Muck is also quite rocky in places and at times will push you across to the right, away from the wall, but you’ll be sticking close to it on your ascent for the most part.
Looking up while you climb, the top really doesn’t seem too far away, but you will discover that Muck is one of those mountains that has a false summit or two! Nevertheless a look around you at the beautiful surroundings rather than looking above will take your mind off the thigh-burning climb, and you should reach the very top within 45 minutes.
The trig point and some of the neighbouring peaks on the other side will come into view, but as you make your way across the plateau and climb the stile at the wall, all of the majestic Mournes will appear before you.
The landscape is just breathtaking. Every time I’ve climbed Muck with my husband and son (my two hiking sidekicks) we’ve been completely alone. This is the perfect place to escape the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life and to fully see and appreciate the amazing country we live in.
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Additional helpful info & tips
Boots are a must for this hike – you will usually be in water and muck to your ankles no matter the weather or time of year!
If, like me and a lot of other mums, you have a somewhat hectic life and find it hard to escape or get time to yourself to do anything, even at the weekends, then this is the hike for you! Unlike so many other hikes that can take hours or anything up to a day (I do love those too by the way, when I have the time), Muck can be conquered in as little as a couple of hours and you still get a tough workout, spectacular panoramic views of the whole mountain range, and the same sense of achievement and appreciation!
Go for it!