The Cooley Peninsula, a hikers paradise!
The Cooley & Mourne Mountains hike. The medieval town of Carlingford on the enchanting Cooley Peninsula nestles between Slieve Foy, Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Mountains and is less than an hour’s drive from Ireland’s two major cities, Dublin and Belfast. A unique blend of natural beauty, spectacular panoramas, myths and legends combine to make the Cooley Peninsula a very special place for your walking holiday in Ireland. It is Ireland’s most well preserved medieval town lending it a unique feel and atmosphere.
Carlingford is also the Oyster capital of the country, and every August, the Oyster Festival draws vast crowds into this pretty village of whitewashed cottages and ancient clustered buildings. ‘An táin Bó Cuailigne’, the national epic of Ireland, is centralised on the Cooley Peninsula. Here 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.
The unique landscape of the Mournes
A ring of 12 mountains dominates 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.
Around the foothills of the Mournes discover many small villages and towns dotting the landscape. So don’t worry, there are plenty of friendly pubs and restaurants where you can rest your weary feet and enjoy a cold pint or hearty meal to recharge your hiking batteries.
Hiking in the Mourne Mountains gives plenty of variety for everyone.
Crisscrossing the Mournes is an unrivalled network of paths and tracks. These trails provide enthusiastic hillwalkers with incredible opportunities for exploration and discovery. Although many of the walks in the Mournes are mountain hikes, you will also find plenty of less strenuous options. Walking trails run through the Mournes’ heart without any significant ascents. Thus offering challenges and hikes for all levels of ramblers.
The Mournes divide into two very distinctive areas – the Eastern or ‘High’ Mournes and the Western or ‘Low’ Mournes. Each offers unique challenges and rewards. Therefore we made sure you discover both on our walking holidays in the Mournes. Another benefit is its location on the east coast of Ireland which means the weather is drier than the west coast of Ireland.
This landscape with astound you, and you will want to come back for more after every visit. From the rocky outcrops, or ‘Tors’, the upland heather and bogs, to the lakes and rivers in the valleys, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is breathtaking any day of the year!
The Mourne Wall
Indeed 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. The wall spans over 9000ft (2743m) of ascent, rising and falling over 15 of the highest peaks in the Mournes.
Not surprisingly, it took over 18 years to build the Mourne Wall, from 1904 to 1922. Indeed the Mourne Wall is a remarkable structural feat and frames some of Ireland’s most exceptional mountain views.
The Mourne Mountains and their names
Some of the mountains have names beginning with Slieve, from the Irish word Sliabh, meaning mountain. Such as ‘Slieve Donard’, ‘Slieve Lamagan’ and ‘Slieve Muck’. Then there are also some very curious names. For instance, ‘Pigeon Rock‘, ‘Buzzard’s Roost‘, ‘Brandy Pad‘, ‘the Cock and Hen‘, and ‘the Devil’s Coach Road‘, to name a few.