The Mourne Mountains are home to Northern Ireland’s highest peak, as well as incredible views and challenging hikes. Here are the top five best Mourne Mountain walks, ranked.
Located on the border between County Down and County Louth, the Mourne Mountains sit in pride of place above the rolling countryside and the crashing Irish Sea below, and are one of the best places for wild camping in Northern Ireland. With stunning surroundings incredible hikes, here are the top five best Mourne Mountain walks.
With hundreds of walks to suit all abilities, from single-day hikes to three-day-long treks, there is a walk for everyone from the seasoned hiker to those looking for a scenic stroll.
So, if you fancy getting out into nature and immersing yourself in an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, then read on to find out the top five best Mourne Mountain hikes, ranked.
5. Slieve Doan – a short walk with fantastic views
The Slieve Doan walk is one of the most underrated walks in the whole of the Mourne Mountains range.
Located in the heart of the Mournes, the drive to this hike is a wonder on its own as you pass through a rolling countryside valley with peaks rising on either side.
The walk up Slieve Doan is a relatively challenging hike but should be manageable for anyone with a good fitness level, no matter how much hiking experience you have.
Park in Ott Car Park, cross the road, and walk through the gate to follow the clearly visible route up to the summit of Slieve Doan.
This route is about 6.8 km (4.2 miles) in total and should take around three to four hours to complete.
Due to its prime position in the heart of the Mournes, you will enjoy incredible 360-degree views of the surrounding peaks from the summit, as well as the view out over Silent Valley and Loughshannagh.
4. Slieve Bearnagh – a challenging hike
One of the most difficult hikes in the Mournes, Slieve Bearnagh is definitely worth the challenge, making it one of the best Mourne Mountain walks.
Starting at the Trassey Car Park, follow the path up to Hare’s Gap, the saddle between Slieve Bearnagh and Slievenaglogh.
From the saddle, take the steps up and take on the most challenging part of the hike – the steep descent to the summit.
In total, this 10 km (6.2 miles) long and should take around five to six hours to complete, and we can assure you this hike is definitely worth it.
From the top, you can see the incredible exposed rocks and boulders that sit atop the mountain, as well as the fantastic views of Ben Crom Reservoir and Silent Valley.
On a clear day, you can enjoy breathtaking views that stretch out over County Down and as far as the Sperrins, Lough Neagh, and Strangford Lough.
3. Slieve Donard – the highest mountain in Northern Ireland
Want to climb the highest mountain in the country? Then Slieve Donard is the one for you.
Slieve Donard is probably the most well-known peak in the Mournes for the simple fact that it is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, standing at 850 m (2800 ft) above sea level.
Start in Donard Car Park and make your way through Donard forest and out onto the clear path leading up to the peak.
In total, the Slieve Donard hike is around 9.2 km (5.8 miles) in total and should take approximately four to five hours to complete.
From the summit, you will enjoy views of the surrounding Mourne Mountains, Newcastle town, and the Irish Sea below.
If you do the hike on a clear day, you might even see as far as the Isle of Man, the Wicklow Mountains, and the peaks of Wales, Scotland, and Donegal!
2. Mourne Wall Walk – a challenging but worth-while feat
The Mourne Wall Walk is a 35 km (22 miles) hike that follows the impressive Mourne Wall as it snakes its way through the Mournes over some of the ranges most impressive peaks.
The peaks you will cross on this walk include Slieve Binnian, Slieve Muck, Carn Mountain, Slieve Loughshannagh, Slieve Meelbeg, Slieve Meelmore, Slieve Bearnagh, Slieve Commedagh, and Slieve Donard, so you are sure to see incredible views along the way.
This hike takes on seven of the Mournes’ ten highest peaks, so it is not for the fainthearted and is best tackled in groups.
The walk should take on average about nine hours, but we would advise leaving longer and doing the hike over a couple of days if possible.
1. Mourne Way from Newcastle to Rostrevor – pass through the Mournes
Topping our list of the five best Mourne Mountain walks is the Mourne Way route from Newcastle to Rostrevor.
This route takes you through the foothills of the Mourne Mountains from Newcastle to Kilbroney Forest Park in Rostrevor, taking in some of the range’s best sights along the way.
At 42 km (26 miles) long, this trek is well-known as the route of the Mourne Way marathon.
From Newcastle, head through Shimna Park and into Tollymore Forest. Being part of the Mourne Way, this route is waymarked with signposts along the way to keep you right.
From Tollymore Forest, you will pass below Slieve Bearnagh, coming up around Fofanny Dam and follow the road between the mountains.
Next, you will summit Butter Mountain, the highest point of the route, looking down over the beautiful Spelga Dam below, before crossing over to Spelga Mountain.
After this, you will cross Spelga Pass and make your way around the base of Hen Mountain and Pigeon Rock Mountain before descending over rough ground to a footbridge across the Rocky River.
Next, make your way to the col between Rocky Mountain and Tornamrock before descending towards Leitrim Lodge and making your way to the final section of the route through Kilbroney Park.
The last part of this hike makes its way over a forest path descending into Rostrevor, where you will enjoy incredible views over Carlingford Lough.
We would advise spreading this hike over two days as it is a challenging feat to take it on in one, so if you are looking to truly enjoy one of the best Mourne Mountain walks, its best to set a couple of days aside.