Uncover the hidden gems of the majestic Mournes
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Mournes is home to Northern Ireland’s highest mountain peak, Slieve Donard.
It is said to have inspired C.S. Lewis’s magical world of Narnia. Ideal for outdoor pursuits, from walking and cycling to more extreme options like mountain boarding and coasteering, it’s also home to one of Northern Ireland’s world class golf courses, Royal County Down.
Located in one of the most naturally beautiful links settings – the Murlough Nature Reserve, a habitat for a diversity of wildlife – Royal County Down stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay, zigzagging back and forth to provide a different vista from virtually every hole.
Off the course, why not discover more of this stunning region? Walk to the summit of Slieve Croob, an outlier of the Mourne Mountains and take in the panoramic views of the range. Make sure to visit the impressive Legananny Dolmen nearby.
Try a hands-on course at the Mourne Seafood Cookery School in Kilkeel – you can even cook your own lunch! Visit the colourful village of Dundrum, where a splendid Norman castle overlooks restaurants offering Dundrum Bay oysters, the day’s fish catch and venison reared in the surrounding drumlins.
Be sure to visit the Mourne Maritime Visitor Centre in Kilkeel, which tells the story of the local fishing and maritime heritage, with panoramic views of the town’s 19th century harbour. Take in the beauty of the coastline and its unique towns and villages by following the brown-signed Mourne Coastal Route, which runs between Belfast and Newry and includes a number of scenic loops into the heart of the Mournes.
The long-distance Saint Patrick’s Trail, which explores our Christian heritage and the legacy of Ireland’s patron saint, also passes through the dramatic Mournes landscape – key sites include Bagenal’s Castle and Newry and Mourne Museum.
The Mournes has many forest parks to explore too, including Tollymore and Castlewellan, and in the upper part of the region, the vast tranquil reservoirs of Silent Valley and Ben Crom, stand testament to the stoneworking skills of the hardy locals with its 22-mile peak to peak expanse over some of the highest summits.
After exploring, unwind the Mourne way with a soak in the vitality pool at the magnificent Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, perfectly situated with the beach to one side and Royal County Down golf links framing the other. Kick back and relax beneath the magnificent mountains that give the area its enduring appeal.
For more information on a short break to the Mournes, visit discovernorthrnireland.com.