8 Day Cooley & Mournes Walking Holiday
Just one hour from Dublin this 8 Day self guided walking holiday crosses the Cooley Peninsula and the Mourne Mountains on the East coast of Ireland.
This is the ideal way to sample the varied landscapes and walks that these hills and mountains have to offer.
The Cooley Peninsula & Carlingford
Less than an hour’s drive from Ireland’s two major cities, Dublin and Belfast, Carlingford Town on the Cooley Peninsula nestles between Slieve Foy, Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Mountains. A unique blend of natural beauty, spectacular panoramas, myths and legends combine to make Carlingford a very special place. It is Ireland’s most well preserved medieval town lending it a unique feel and atmosphere.
Oyster capital of Ireland
Carlingford is also the Oyster capital of the country and every August the Oyster Festival draws huge crowds into this beautiful village of white washed cottages and ancient clustered buildings.
Myths and Legends in Ireland’s Ancient East
‘An táin Bó Cuailigne’ the national epic of Ireland is centralised on the Cooley Peninsula. Here Cuchulainn, Queen Maebh and the famous Brown Bull of Cooley met their fate. Their route can be followed across Ireland to the Cooley mountains. This national waymarked way is known as the táin trail.
Hiking in the Mourne Mountains
The Mourne Mountains or ‘Mournes’ is a granite mountain range located in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland and are among the most famous mountains in the country.
The Mournes are partly owned by the National Trust and see a large number of visitors and hill walkers every year. The highest peak is Slieve Donard at 849 metres (2,785 ft).
The Mourne Wall
The Mourne Wall is among the most famous features in the Mournes. It is 35 kilometres long dry-stone wall that crosses fifteen summits. It was constructed to define the boundaries of the 36 square kilometres area of land purchased by the Belfast Water Commissioners in the late 1800s. Construction of the Mourne Wall was started in 1904 and was completed in 1922.
What does Slieve mean?
Quite a few of the mountains have names beginning with ‘Slieve’, which is taken from the Irish word Sliabh, and means mountain. Some examples are ‘Slieve Donard’, ‘Slieve Lamagan’ and ‘Slieve Muck’.
There are also some unusual names: Pigeon Rock; Buzzard’s Roost; Brandy Pad; the Cock and Hen; Percy Bysshe; the Devil’s Coach Road; and Pollaphuca, which means “hole of the fairies or sprites”
Day 1 – Arrive in Ireland.
Arrive at your first accommodation in Dundalk / Blackrock in County Louth. We recommend flying into Dublin or Belfast airports. Overnight Blackrock / Dundalk.
Day 2 – Ravensdale – Lumpers (Cooley)
Private transfer to the start of the first walk in Ravensdale forest. A steep climb brings you to black mountain & Clairmont Cairn from where you have a fantastic view over the Slieve Gullion volcanic crater to the Northwest and to the South you can see Howth and the Dublin Mountains. You will also get the first glimpse of Slieve Foye above Carlingford and the Mourne mountains to the Northeast. You walk along this ridge line where you will find 2 Cairns before descending through another forest to the Lumpers Pub where you will be picked up for a transfer back to your B&B. Overnight Blackrock / Dundalk.
Walk: 12 km / 4 hours / Forest roads and tracks, Heather and Moore (can be wet underfoot) and quiet country roads
Day 3 – Lumpers to Carlingford
Transfer to start of the hike at the Lumpers Pub. Today’s walk brings you across the Cooley Peninsula into the central valley before climbing over the crest of Barnavave and Maeve’s Gap to find Carlingford Village and Carlingford Lough at your feet. Overnight in Carlingford where your baggage awaits.
Walk: 16 km / 5 hours / Forest roads and tracks, Heather and Moore (can be wet underfoot) and quiet country roads.
Day 4 – Carlingford
From your B&B accommodation in Carlingford we give you a variety of walking options to enjoy. These vary in Length and difficulty and all start and end in the historic medieval village with its many shops, restaurants and cosy pubs. Make sure to sample the famous Carlingford Oysters!
Walk: Various lengths and grades.
Day 5 – Rostrevor – Deerpark
Private transfer to the start of the hike in Rostrevor on the other side of Carlingford Lough. You will now make your way into the Mournes following the waymarked Mourne Way.
At the end of the walk, you will be collected and brought to the Mourne Hostel in Attical. This hostel was set up and built as a village project to create a source of income to the area and is run by volunteers. Overnight in Atticall.
Walk: 17 km / 5 hours / Forest roads and tracks, Heather and Moore (can be wet underfoot)
Day 6 – Explore Mourne Mountains
Using your accommodation in Attical as a base choose one of the many fantastic walks in the area and explore the beautiful Mourne Mountains. During the Summer Months, a circular Rambler bus allows you to explore all corners of this magnificent area. Overnight in Atticall.
Walk: Various lengths and grades
Day 7 – Deerpark – Newcastle
Private transfer close to the previous day end point, and from here you will walk across the Mournes and through the beautiful Tollymore forest park and into Newcastle where you will spend the final night before departure. This is hill-walking at its best, and this trek will inspire you to come back for more! Overnight in Newcastle.
Walk: 18 km / 5.5 hours / Forest roads and tracks, Heather and Moore (can be wet underfoot)
Day 8 – Departure from Newcastle
An excellent walking holiday where we often imagined ourselves in a fairy tale landscape. The walking routes took us past waterfalls, narrow tracks in the woods, quiet country roads and walks along the beautiful Causeway coast. We highly recommend visiting Rathlin Island.
While hiking, you meet very few people along the route, which is nice. The villages where we stayed were buzzing and busier on the coast. The accommodation was excellent with hospitable hosts that were always willing to advise on the best places to eat etc.
In Ballintoy there was a live performance when stayed there which interfered with our sleep, but we booked an extra night to visit Belfast which was a great end to our Holiday.
We booked our walking holiday (group 8 people) through Cliff from Walking Ireland for August 2015. The whole schedule was changed for our group.We included Derry. When we arrived at Belfast Airport the taxibus was outside waiting for us. All the B&B’s were absolutely fabulous. Our luggage was transported for us so all we had to do was walk. We loved the routes, the views and the people. Very friendly and helpful. Even the weather was great. Don’t know if Cliff had anything to do with that.
With 15 nordicwalkers we arrived at the Ballymascanlon Hotel near Dundalk, a very good Hotel in the middle of a Golf course. The whole week we were transferred in a little bus with a private chauffeur. We walked four times (15 – 20 km),with and without Cliff, in the Cooley and Mourne Mountains in Ireland and North-Ireland. One evening we met the real Irish musicians. And we eat in a real Irish steakrestaurant, The last day we visit Dublin, where we stayed in the middle of the town, very nice. All was very good organised bij Cliff
We are already a few days at home and look back on a wonderful time in N. Ireland. The 500 + stunning photos have been downloaded (perhaps one of the reasons for our slow walking pace). All B&Bs were excellent, good beds, nice breakfast, quiet location and very friendly and helpful hosts. It was very special to really meet no one on the Moyle Way to the crossing of the B?? towards Ballycastle forest. We have had 2 wonderful meals in the Anzac restaurant in Ballycastle after two wonderful days walking. The combination of your descriptions and the maps worked perfectly. Also only praise for the B&Bs in Cushendall and Portstewart they were super cozy. The last walk to Portstewart was also brilliant. It was dry but very windy. Yesterday was a magnificent walk with the great views and surroundings. Again, it was a great experience for us, the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone, including yourself, made a great impression on us.
For our walking holiday in the Cooley & Mournes we advise the following airport(s):
Main Airport: Dublin Airport
Blackrock & Dundalk lies about halfway on the motorway between Dublin and Belfast. From Dublin airport the car will take about 45 minutes and the bus about one hour.