Spelga Dam: directions, walks nearby, and things to know

Spelga Dam sits majestically in the heart of the Mourne Mountains and provides incredible views all around. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Spelga Dam.

Situated in the Mourne Mountains near Kilkeel, Spelga Dam is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful spot perfect for an afternoon escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Located in a valley between Pigeon Rock Mountain, Slievenamiskan, Spelga and Slievenamuck, and Carnmountain, Spelga Dam stretches out in one of the most beautiful parts of the Mourne Mountains.

Spelga Reservoir was built in 1960 as part of a project to supply water to Belfast, but today the reservoir provides water to primarily the Banbridge and Portadown areas.

So, if you’re looking to explore one of the most incredible parts of the Mourne region, then here is everything you need to know about Spelga Dam, from how to get there to walks nearby and useful information.

Directions – how to get there

The road to Spelga Dam.
Credit: Instagram / @wanderwithjill

From Belfast, take the M1 south and exit the motorway at Sprucefield (J7) and continue south on A1 towards Newry.

Once you reach Newry, follow the roadsigns for Hilltown via the B8. Turn right onto Kilkeel Road (B27) and turn right into Spelga Dam car park.

From Newcastle, follow the Mourne Scenic Loop. Head south towards Castlewellan on the Castlewellan Road (A2). After following this road for about 1.9 miles (3 km), turn left onto the Ballyhalfry Road (B180).

Follow this road for about 3.6 miles (5.8 km) before turning left onto the Slievenaman Road.

Enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding Mournes as your travel along the Slievenaman Road for about 4.1 miles (6.6 km).

Take a sharp right at the junction onto the Kilkeel Road (B27) and follow this road for 0.7 miles (1.12 km) before reaching Spelga Dam car park on your left.

Walks nearby – for a range of abilities

Walks nearby.
Credit: geograph.ie / Rossographer

To explore Spelga Dam on foot, park at Deer Mountain car park at the southern end of the reservoir.

Head north and follow the lakeshore for fantastic views over the reservoir towards the surrounding mountains.

Walks near Spelga Dam.
Credit: Instagram / @ciaran_mathers_images

For a more strenuous hike, try out the Spelga Dam loop. From the car park, walk west along Kilkeel Road to a bridge crossing the river.

From here, follow through the heather up Slievenamiskan and Cock Mountain, from which you will get fantastic views of Spelga Dam from above. Descend Cock Mountain and contour along Pigeon Rock Mountain to the south-east before climbing Slieve Muck.

At the summit of Slieve Muck, you will reach the Mourne Wall. Follow the wall north to Carn Mountain, where you will get a great view of Slieve Loughshannagh.

Descending Carn Mountain, make your way north-west over Ott Mountain towards Slievenamuck, Butter Mountain, and Spelga Mountain before making your descent back to the car park.

This is a relatively strenuous hike, so we advise having a good level of physical fitness before taking it on and making sure you come prepared with a sturdy pair of walking shoes to make your way over rough terrain.

Things to know – useful information

Useful information for visiting.
Credit: Instagram / @the_little_gallivanter

The main car park to the north of Spelga Dam has room for about twenty to thirty cars as well as toilet facilities and picnic benches.

The car park to the south has fewer spaces and no amenities, but it is well worth the visit to take in the views of the dam from a different perspective.

What to see – some of the best views in the Mournes

The views from Spelga Dam are amazing.
Credit: Instagram / @fulltimingfelines

Spelga Dam offers a great central point to take in 360-degree views of the Mourne range, recognised as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.

Getting out of your car and going for a short stroll around the area will truly take your breath away.

The drive to Spelga Dam from Newcastle is also not to be understated as you travel through the Mourne Mountains passing sights such as Fofanny Dam, Tollymore Forest Park, and the rolling countryside.

On the drive, you will also see the iconic peaks of Slieve Donard, Slieve Commedagh, and Slieve Bearnagh in the distance.

We would also recommend checking out Magic Hill to the south of Spelga Reservoir, where an optical illusion means if you take your handbrake off and let your car roll on the hill, it will appear as though it is rolling uphill!

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