How to get there
From Newcastle, travel south along the coast road to the junction at 374 211. This turn is marked as the road to the Silent Valley reservoir. Follow this road all the way to Carrick Little Carpark 345 219.
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 route that you will be walking this weekend can be best described as "The Inner Horseshoe" of the Mourne Mountains. You will skirt below the highest summit in the six counties of Ulster - Slieve Donard.
The following route outline is the proposed route for the weekend. However this route is very much subject to such things as weather conditions, staffing etc. Therefore the route can change and this should be borne in mind by all participants.
This map has a very large scale so distances can be deceiving. Each grid box is 1km X 1km in size. Also the distances in the Mournes can de very deceptive so the route may look much further than it is in reality.
Car park 345 219 to Base 1 (326 252)
Leave the carpark and head up along the small road for about .8km. Keep to the left as you pass through a gate. You will now be on a track which runs between along a large stone wall. Continue along the track and you will walk along a forest on your right for about 1 km. At the end of the forest cross the stream and follow the track to Blue Lough. The campsite for the night is just to the south of the lake at 325 252. Pitch your tent and have a cuppa and then go to bed!
Base 1 to track end 322 255
Once you have been checked-out from base camp, head along the track in a north-westerly direction. Follow this trail for about 1km until it ends. Enjoy the view down into Ben Crom reservoir.
Track end to summit of Slievelamagan
Start to climb uphill in a north-easterly direction up the side of Slievelamagan. This is quite a steep climb - so take your time. Zig-zag up the slope and take short rests regularly. There are some fine views from this slope down into the Silent Valley. You will achieve most of your height for the day's walk on this climb. If the weather is good, you should be able to see the Isle of Man to the south-east from the summit.
Summit to the Col (331 267)
When you leave the summit keep on the shoulder of the ridge and head towards the rocky area at 331 263. From here descend towards the peat hags over some rocky ground to the col at 331 267. You should be able to see the cliffs on the side of Cove Mountain from here.
Col to Ridge (332 270)
Travel up onto the shoulder of the ridge to 332 270 keeping well away from the crags on the side of Cove Mtn. From here you can turn for the summit. This type of manoeuvre is called a "dog-leg".
Ridge to Cove Mountain (336 271)
The climb is now less steep. From the summit, which is marked by a small cairn, there are excellent views down into the valley and over towards Slieve Donard.
Cove Mtn to Col (335 275)
Descend from the summit in a north-westerly direction towards some sandy ground in the middle of the col at 335 275. You will have a fine view back onto Cove which will look very large and very far away.
Col to Ridge (337 278) & Ridge to Slieve Beg
Climb up through the peaty ground to the shoulder of the ridge at 337 278. Once again, perform a "dog-leg" turn for the summit of Slieve Beg which is marked by 2 large rock formations. The views from here are spectacular - down into the Annalong Valley, the Castles below Commedagh and the Brandy Pad winding along the edge of the mountains.
Slieve Beg to Brandy Pad (342 278)
From Slieve Beg you can quickly descend onto the Brandy Pad track. There is a large stone cairn on the track and you should aim for this feature.
Brandy Pad to Mourne Wall (354 268)
Follow the track in an easterly direction, skirting around the base of Slieve Donard until you reach the Mourne Wall at 354 268. You will make good time along this section of the walk.
Mourne Wall to Wall corner (352 256)
Follow the wall in a southerly direction from the Bog of Donard towards Rocky Mtn for about 1.2km until you reach the definite corner at 352 256. The wall is made of large granite slabs that were quarried locally from the mountain sides. The wall was built by Belfast Water Commissioners to define their catchment area. Work stared in 1910 and finished in 1922. The wall runs over the tops of 15 mountains and encloses around 9000 acres.
Wall corner to Hares Castle (345 256)
From the wall corner, travel westwards towards the large rock formation that is called Hares Castle. Base 2 is situated near to this feature. This is the campsite for the second night.
Hares Castle to wall corner (344 251)
From Hares Castle descend along the river and pick up the track which you can follow into the wall at 344 251. This wall is not in good condition but you can follow it.
Wall to River (341 252) & onto track (338 253)
Travelling in a westerly direction, descend to the river. Once you have crossed the river you can travel across peaty ground to the track at 338 253.
Track to Car park
Once on the track, follow it back to the forest edge that you passed on Friday. From here you can travel back along the track (in the opposite direction!) that you used on Friday all the way to the car park