Ulster 2009 - The Mournes

9/10/11 October  

INTRODUCTION 

The Mournes are a small group of mountains, compact within an elliptical area of about 14 miles by 7 miles. There are 35 summits over 1500 feet high as well as a large number of interesting geological features such as corrie lakes, buttresses etc. The Mournes are composed of granite which is a hard, tough rock with a distinctive appearance. They were formed around 50 million years ago and since then have been subject to many climatic changes. The glaciers of the last Ice Age helped widen and deepen the Silent valley and also caused the formation of many of the rock buttresses to be seen in the Mournes.

The other major feature in the Mournes is of course the Mourne Wall. The wall is made of large granite slabs that were quarried locally from the mountain sides. Work stared in 1910 and finished in 1922. The wall runs over the tops of 15 mountains, covering 22 miles and encloses around 9000 acres. The wall was built by Belfast Water Commissioners to define their catchment area. This area has an annual rainfall of around 70 inches. 

The map being is used is the OSNI Activity Map The Mournes. This has a large 1:25000 scale. Because of this the six figure grid references are given to the nearest whole number. The national grid letter for this area is J. It has been omitted in the following grid references. 

Check-in will be open between 9 pm and 11 pm on the Friday night. Please text 00353876866350 if you will be late getting to the car park. If so you must check in with staff in the morning time. 
 

HOW TO GET THERE 

From Newry, travel along the B8 to Hilltown and from there on towards Tollymore Forest Park (Bryansford) along the B180. ##About 2 km before the forest take the right turn at 319323 on to Trassey Road (there is a small sign on the right, just after the turn). The car park is another 1.5 km down this road on the left hand side at 311315. Note there is narrow bridge on this road that crosses the river. 

ROUTE OUTLINE 

CAR PARK 311315 TO FIRST CAMP 317292

Turn left out of the car park and head uphill along the road until you hit the stile at 311315. Cross over the stile and follow the good track along the forest edge. Cross over the fence at 313303 where there is a sheepfold. You now travel along the sandy track, known as the Trassey track which climbs into the heart of the Mournes. Continue along this track until you get to the track junction 319292.  The camp for the night is located between the track junction and the river junction near 317292.

    

FIRST CAMP 317292 TO HARES’ GAP 323287

Climb back up to the Trassey track and follow this uphill towards Hares’ Gap. The path becomes a bit broken closer to the top.  

HARES’ GAP 323287 TO SLIEVE BEARNAGH 313281

Meet the Mourne wall at Hares’  Gap. You will be following this for the next while.

It is a long climb from here to the top of Slieve Bearnagh. Take your time! Leaving Hares’  Gap, you should follow a path to the left of the wall for a short while. This is because the wall sticks to a steep rock face at the start. Once the steep part is over you should head right to meet the wall again. You should be able to walk alongside the Mourne wall from then on. 

SLIEVE BEARNAGH 313281 TO COL 309282

Take care descending from the 739 spot to the col. As you get closer to the col, you should move away to the left of the wall. As the wall itself follows a steep line downwards. Try to zig-zag your way down to the col.  

COL 309282 TO SLIEVE MEELMORE 306288

Follow the wall on the right up. It is a steady climb. There is a small tower near the top. 

SLIEVE MEELMORE 306288 TO COL 304282

Folow the wall down to the col. You will come across an intersection with another wall and a turn in the wall nearer the col itself.  

COL 304282 TO SLIEVE MEELBEG 301279

Follow the wall as it ascends to the 708 point. 

SLIEVE MEELBEG 301279 TO COL 297275

From this height you should have great views of the other mountains. Follow the wall down along the grassy slope to the next col. 

COL 297275 TO SLIEVE LOUGHSHANNAGH 295272

From here the last climb of the day brings you to the height of 619 metres. 

SLIEVE LOUGHSHANNAGH 295272 TO COL 291268

All downhill now! Follow the wall down to meet the stile in the col. 

COL 291268 TO SECOND CAMP 296265

From the col there is a track that goes between Lough Shannagh and Doan mountain, as shown on the map. Follow this to near 295266 and from there head to where the stream joins the lake at 296265.  Camping will be located around this area.  
 

SECOND CAMP 296265 TO COL 291268

Retrace your steps from yesterday evening back to the col SW of Slieve Loughshannagh.  

COL 291268 TO COL 309282

From here are going to follow a track (shown on the map) which skirts around the base of Slieve Loughshannagh and Slieve Meelbeg. This leads to the col at 309282 which we visited yesterday.   

COL 309282 TO TRACK JUNCTION 319292

From here there is a path that brings us down to the valley of the Trassey river and the track junction at 319292. The track is broken a bit in places. 

TRACK JUNCTION 319292 TO CAR PARK 311315

Retrace the steps from Friday’s route in reverse to get back to the car park.

Please check in with staff. 

Well done! There may be MPC t-shirts for sale in the car park.