A Walker’s Guide to the Mourne Mountains
For those who are looking for a challenging and scenic walk, it is hard to find a better location than Northern Ireland’s Mourne Mountains. The Mourne Mountains are unforgettably dramatic and are also the highest in the country. Trails seem to reach across the peaks and valleys in every direction, offering all levels of walkers a variety of different paths to explore, whether they are looking for a trail that will last just a few hours – or a few days. In general, the Mourne Mountains are divided into the High Mournes, which is the east side of the range, and the Low Mournes to the west.
Guides and Solo Treks
Those that feel more comfortable hitting the trails with a guide will want to check out the two major events that place at the Mourne Mountains every year: the Mourne International Walking Festival, and the Wee Binian Walking Festival. Guided hill walking is offered at both, at low and higher levels, making it easy to tackle the wilderness without any fear of getting lost. These are fun events, where one can meet and socialise with other walkers who enjoy the fresh air – and some of the best sights that Northern Ireland has to offer.
Of course, there are plenty of trails that you can take on your own that are clearly marked, which make the Mourne Mountains a great place to explore at anytime of the year. The Annalong Coastal Path is a popular family walk which is only 1.5 miles long, and offers some great views of the wonderful shoreline. Those that want a more challenging walk often tackle the Bearnagh and Meelmore trail, which offers to take walkers up two summits over a 9km circuit. Those that want to see the wildlife and fauna of the Mourne Mountains will enjoy the Annesley Garden Walk in the Castlewellan Forest Park, which travels through the National Arboretum and the Annesley Garden.
To help walkers get around the Mourne Mountains and reach different trails, Translink runs a ‘rambler bus’ that travels around the area every May to September. This bus is a great way to hike many different trails on different sides of the Mournes. “Activities in the Mournes” also runs a shuttle service that walkers can use, with various drop-off and pick-up points scattered around the outer edges of the range at Newcastle, Donard Park, Carricklittle Track Car Park, and Trassey Track Car Park.