The Cooley & Mourne Mountains
Explore the Beauty of Cooley & Mourne Mountains: A Hikers’ Paradise
The Cooley Peninsula and the Mourne Mountains in Ireland are a hiker’s paradise that offer a unique blend of natural beauty, myths, and legends that make them a special place for a walking holiday. Located less than an hour’s drive from Dublin and Belfast, these mountains are easily accessible for anyone looking for a peaceful escape from the bustling city life. In this article, we will explore the highlights of the Cooley & Mourne Mountains and the unique features that make them a must-visit for any hiker.
Medieval Carlingford – A Hidden Gem
Carlingford is a medieval town nestled on the Cooley Peninsula, and is the most well-preserved medieval town in Ireland. Its unique feel and atmosphere, combined with the natural beauty surrounding it, make it a perfect starting point for any hike in the Cooley & Mourne Mountains. Carlingford is also the Oyster capital of the country, and the Oyster Festival held every August draws huge crowds into this pretty village of whitewashed cottages and ancient clustered buildings.
Follow the Táin Trail
The Cooley Peninsula is centralised in the national epic of Ireland, ‘An táin Bó Cuailigne’, where Cuchulainn, Queen Maebh, and the renowned 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, and it offers a unique opportunity to explore the cultural and historical significance of the Cooley Peninsula while enjoying a great hike.
The Unique Landscape of the Mournes
The Mourne Mountains offer an outstanding natural beauty that is hard to find anywhere else. The unique landscape of the Mournes features a ring of 12 mountains dominating the Mourne upland, each rising above 600m, with the highest peak, Slieve Donard, reaching 853m. This unique mountain range lies 50km south of Belfast and just over 100km north of Dublin, hugging the County Down coastline.
Eastern and Western Mournes – A Hiker’s Dream
The Mournes divide into two very distinctive areas – the Eastern or ‘High’ Mournes and the Western or ‘Low’ Mournes. Each area offers unique challenges and rewards for hikers, making it a perfect destination for all levels of ramblers. The unrivalled network of paths and tracks crisscrossing the Mournes provides enthusiastic hillwalkers with incredible opportunities for exploration and discovery. Walking trails run through the Mournes’ heart without any significant ascents, making them perfect for less strenuous hikes.
The Mourne Wall – A Remarkable Structural Feat
The most distinctive feature of Northern Ireland‘s highest mountain range is the Mourne Wall. The wall is 22 miles (35.5km) long and encloses 9000 acres of land, draining into the Silent Valley and Ben Crom reservoirs. It took over 18 years to build the Mourne Wall, from 1904 to 1922. It frames some of Ireland’s most exceptional mountain views and spans over 9000ft (2743m) of ascent, rising and falling over 15 of the highest peaks in the Mournes.
The Mourne Mountains and Their Names
The Mourne Mountains have several mountains with names beginning with ‘Slieve’, from the Irish word Sliabh, meaning mountain, such as ‘Slieve Donard’, ‘Slieve Lamagan’, and ‘Slieve Muck’. The mountains also have some very curious names, such as ‘Pigeon Rock’, ‘Buzzard’s Roost’, ‘Brandy Pad’, ‘the Cock and Hen’, and ‘the Devil’s Coach Road’, adding to the mystique of this stunning mountain range.
Relax and Unwind in Local Villages
Around the foothills of the Mournes, many small villages and towns dot the landscape. After a long day of hiking, ramblers can rest their weary feet in friendly pubs and restaurants and enjoy a cold pint or hearty meal to recharge their hiking batteries.
The location of the Mournes on Ireland’s east coast means that the weather is drier than on the west coast of Ireland, making it an excellent destination for a walking holiday any time of the year.
Must-visit hiking destination in Ireland’s Ancient East.
The Cooley & Mourne Mountains offer a unique combination of natural beauty, myths, and legends, making them a must-visit destination for hikers. Whether you are an enthusiastic hillwalker or a less experienced rambler, the Mournes offer something for everyone. With the many small villages and towns dotted around the foothills of the Mournes, hikers can relax and unwind after a long day of hiking in the stunning Irish landscape. Plan your walking holiday in the Cooley & Mourne Mountains today, and discover the magic and mystique of this incredible place.
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