Top 10 things to do in the Mournes
With spectacular and varied panoramas, the Mountains of Mourne are famous as a boundless natural playground within Northern Ireland’s great outdoors. Their clean air and beauty entices adventurers and relaxation seekers alike.
It’s just a beginning, but here are 10 of the top things you can get up to in the Mournes.
1. Scale the highest peak
Towering above Newcastle, the Irish Sea and the whole of Ulster, Slieve Donard is a premier hillwalking, hiking and mountaineering experience. Rise to the challenge of climbing the high point of the Mournes, and the rewards will be many. Pick a clear day and its summit will return truly unforgettable panoramas.
2. Find the Kingdom’s fairways
Indulge your golfing dreams in the Kingdom of Mourne. From Rory McIlroy’s favourites – world-class Royal County Down or his home club in Holywood – to the fantastic links of Ardglass, the parkland of Warrenpoint and the undulating greens at Kilkeel, the fairways just can’t get any better. And the nineteenths are pretty special too.
3. Lose yourself in Tollymore
Be it horse riding, gentle strolls, cycling, nature trailing or picnicking by the Shimna River, the magnificent Tollymore Forest Park is large enough and varied enough for it all. Tollymore is a special place where memories are made amid great beauty. It’s so good, HBO have used it several times for scenes in Game of Thrones.
4. Hear the silence in the valley
Breathe in the fresh mountain air and soak up the tranquillity that surrounds the liquid amphitheatre of Silent Valley. Follow the waterside through nature, heritage or challenge trails or take in the exhibition room explaining how the dam and reservoirs were built. An inspirational site for photographers, walkers and picnickers, the silence is golden all-year round.
5. Play the great outdoors
Calling all adrenalin junkies – the Mournes are rock climbing, coasteering, abseiling, mountain biking, kayaking and you-name-an-adventure central. Just hook up with one of the numerous local Adventure Providers, and dive, jump and drop your way through the best and most fun-filled mountain range in Northern Ireland. Mountain Biking at Castlewellan Forest Park and bouldering at Bloody Bridge are firm favourites in the area.
6. Ring the Peace Maze bell
Cycle, walk or horse-ride through the enchanting Castlewellan Forest Park, or solve your way to the centre of one of the world's largest permanent hedge mazes, and ring the bell to announce your achievement. Incredible views, one of Northern Ireland's most famous lakes, stunning castle and forest park, nature play and multi-activity centre – there’s everything here for the finest of days out.
7. Do the Murlough boardwalk
Wander the unique series of boardwalks that cross Murlough Nature Reserve, a fragile 6,000-year-old dune system backing the sensational Blue Flag beach at Murlough Bay. This spectacular location, with a Mournes backdrop, is excellent for peaceful strolls, wildlife watching and taking in the vibes of the Kingdom. Dundrum village is handy nearby for a spot of lunch or dinner.
8. Stop the world for spa
Melt into a full body massage, or try the facials, eye, back, hand and feet treatments and more at the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa. These luxurious pamper sessions come complete with stunning views across the Irish sea and the Mourne Mountains, swimming and vitality pools, and can even involve your own spa butler. Indulge, and bring your mind and body back into balance.
9. Microlight the Mournes
For the thrill of a lifetime, soar like an eagle over the Mournes in a Microlight Flight and marvel at the mind-blowing scenery below. Just sit back and take it all in, or take over the controls for a little while and assume the role of honorary pilot. Several local operators can have you airborne in no time.
10. Walk Slieve Gullion’s slopes
Reconnect with nature, history and mythology on the many walking routes south west of the Mournes in the beautiful volcanic landscape of the Ring of Gullion. With the dome of Slieve Gullion at its heart, there is terrain to suit all-comers. On the short red squirrel safari walk, two hides let you watch for the elusive species at monitored feeding stations.