PLACES TO VISIT
An area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Mourne Mountains are the most picturesque in Ireland and were the inspiration for the writer C S Lewis’s magical land of Narnia in his popular children’s books The Chronicles of Narnia. In this compact range, 15 miles long and 8 miles wide, only a dozen of the sixty or so individual summits rise above 2,000ft, with Slieve Donard, at 2,769ft, the highest peak in Ulster.
Silent Valley Mountain Park, Head Road, tel (028) 9035 4716 The Silent Valley Reservoir was built to gather water from the Mourne Mountains and is the main water supply source for most of County Down and a large part of Belfast. Ringed by mountains, ‘The Vallet’, located within the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, houses beautiful parkland, lakes and a pond. It attracts around 50,000 visitors per year most of whom come to enjoy the peace and solitude of this mountain area with its unique landscapes and varied wildlife. Northern Ireland Water has provided a number of visitor facilities at the site including a restaurant, information centre, conference centre and education centre – all housed in two old colonial style bungalows and enjoying delightful views over the parkland. Opening times: The reservoir grounds are open daily from 10.00am-6.30pm (summer) and 10.00am-4.00pm (October-April) Admission Fees: payable on entrance. Car, on foot, child Directions: vehicle access is possible only through the main gates located on Head Road. Drivers are required to obey the one-way traffic system which leads to a single large car park at the south end of the reservoir grounds. A shuttlebus also operates during peak season.
Game of Thrones
Tollymore Forest GOT Trek This tour is a walking tour of Game of Thrones® film locations in Tollymore Forest Park. The total walking distance is 2 miles (3.2km). The terrain is sometimes uneven, with a steep descent into, and final ascent out of the forest from the car park.
World famous Royal County Down Golf Club
The Royal County Down Golf Club is a golf club in Northern Ireland, located in Newcastle, County Down. It opened 128 years ago 23 March 1889 and is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland. It has two 18-hole links courses, the Championship Course and the Annesley Links.
Kilbroney Park Rostrevor
Tollymore Forest Park
Annalong Corn Mill (1800’s -1960)
The beautifully restored mill features a multi-media exhibition where you can experience Mourne life of the past, meet the miller and follow the progress of the oats through the milling process. You can also learn all about the famous stonemen of Mourne and the schooners that left the harbour carrying prized Mourne granite to help build the industrial cities of Britain.
Opening times – April to October daily 14:00 – 17:00
Once the grazing ground for Irish red deer, part of Deer’s Meadow was flooded to create Spelga Dam, completed in 1957, to maintain a supply of water for the many mills along the River Bann. Deer’s Meadow delimits the geological divide between the Eastern or High Mournes (which drain into the Irish Sea) and the Western or Low Mournes (which drain into Carlingford Lough). In the past cattle would have been taken here to graze pastures in the summer months and then brought down again at the end of September, a practice known as transhumance or ‘booleying’ locally. The story of Spelga Reservoir & Dam. A must visit in the Mourne Mountains
In 1904 work began on the building of the famous Mourne Wall to define the boundary of the 9000 acres (3,600 ha) catchment area and was completed 18 years later in 1922. It was built by the Belfast Water Commissioners to enclose the reservoirs’ catchment area in the Mourne Mountains and was crafted from natural granite stone using traditional dry stone walling techniques.
It stands 3m high and 1m wide, stretching for 22 miles (35km) and runs over the 17 peaks in the Mourne mountains. The wall begins and ends at the Silent Valley Reservoir.
Kilkeel harbour was first started in the 1850s and a pier was built in 1868 with further improvements in 1872. The harbour has grown since then and developed until the recent introduction of pontoons for the smaller fishing boats. The harbour at Kilkeel bustles with the province’s largest fleet, and is busiest during landings and in the fishmarket auction time. There are fish-processing factories, trawler repair and new build facilities dotted around the harbour.
The Mourne Mountains are the source of the famous Mourne granite. It was exported around the world in the last couple of centuries and indeed Liverpool is largely paved with Mourne Granite. Mourne was home to many skilled stonemasons. There are a number of local granite firms who have many years experience in working the stone, including Linton’s, Robinson’s, McConnell’s and Cunningham’s, to name a few. McConnell’s now work on international commissions, having made Princess Diana’s Memorial in London and work on the 9/11 Memorial in New York.
The Scenic Carlingford Ferry links the historic & mythical Ireland’s Ancient East, from the Cooley Mountains to the Gateway of Northern Ireland, to the majestic Kingdom of Mourne. The journey time is approximately 15 minutes. Sailing from Greenore, Co Louth & Greencastle, Co Down; with echoes of Vikings, Medieval Castles, C S Lewis’s inspiration for Narnia, Celtic myths & legends, Leprechauns, stunning scenery, world renowned Royal County Down Golf Course, walking, cycling & outdoor activities, seals, birdlife, superb seafood, local craft beers, whiskey, artisan food & a fantastic friendly welcome, this is not to be missed!
Electric Hill Spelga Dam
The Electric Brae is a hill at which Newton’s discovery of the law of gravity is defied – basically, a parked car with its handbrake off appears to run backwards uphill.
The term `Electric Brae’ comes from a hill in Scotland, near Ayr, where the same phenomena is observed. Brae is a Scottish word for hill and Electric because the effect was initially thought to be an electric or magnetic attraction or repulsion from the surrounding hill or, in the case of the site near Spelga Dam, a large reservoir. Just visualise how two magnets repel each other.
The location is at Spelga Dam in the Mournes, if you have an Ordnance Survey Map the grid reference is 265 275.
Castlewellan Peace Maize & Forest Park
Beside ‘Animal Wood’ you’ll find the Peace Maze, one of the world’s largest permanent hedge mazes representing the path to a peaceful future for Northern Ireland. Planted in 2000 with community involvement, visitors can attempt to solve their way to the peace bell in the centre of the maize.
Murloch Nature Reserve & Beach, Dundrum
Murlough Beach is a Blue Flag beach which comprises a wide flat sandy beach with a 2 m wide pebble ridge above high water mark.
Murlough Beach is backed by an ancient sand dune system throughout its 6 km length. A large area of the dunes is designated as a National Nature Reserve. The Nature Reserve is a fragile 6,000 year old sand dune system. It is an excellent area for walking and bird watching due to its spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains.