115 Central Promenade
Newcastle, Co Down

Planning a Weekend Trip

phone
(028)437 23842
email:info@hilltrekker.com

Never been in the Mournes before? Not sure how to get here, or quite what to do on your first trip? If that's your situation then this page is for you! It offers guidance on travel, some info on accomodation in the area and suggestions on how to get the best out of your first trip.

Getting here: - From the Republic of Ireland

The road you are on will take you here! The new motorway from Dublin will carry you easily north past Dundalk and on to the road to Newry (now a major shopping destination). From Newry the best approach is to take the road to Hilltown. You might find it easier to avoid the traffic in Newry town centre and use the bypass. This will take you round the west of the town with interesting views, before meeting the main Newry-Belfast road at a prominent roundabout. Here turn right, pass the Mourne Country hotel and head south towards the centre of town. Look for a prominent bar called 'The Brass Monkey', ahead on the left. Turn left at this point onto the Hilltown road (the B8). Follow the road through Hilltown. Descend through the town centre with some views of the mountains opening up ahead and turn right towards Newcastle. The road is narrow with a few bends, but the increasingly dramatic scenery more than compensates. As the Newcastle area is approached, you will see Slieve Meelmore, Slieve Meelbeg and Slieve Bearnagh on the right followed by the ridge leading eastwards to Slieve Commedagh and eventually Slieve Donard.

Getting here: - From Mainland GB

There are a number of travel choices for your journey to the Mourne country, but they will start with either a ferry journey or a flight. There are plenty of low cost flights available into Belfast City Airport and Belfast International. Perhaps the most convenient approach is to fly in to Belfast City airport, pick up a hire car and head south on the A24, through CarryDuff, Ballynahinch and Dundrum to Newcastle. The road is quite well signposted and will get you to the area of the Mournes in perhaps 1.5 hrs after leaving the airport. The journey from Belfast International to the Newcastle area is less straightforward. Perhaps the best approach leaving Belfast International, is to take the road towards Templepatrick until a major roundabout is encountered after about 1 mile. Here turn right following signs to Belfast, Lisburn and Craigavon. After 2 miles, at the next major roundabout take the exit for Craigavon / Moira and follow this for 10 miles to the Moira Roundabout at the intersection with the A3 and the M1. Take the A3 east towards Lisburn for approximately 5 miles to a prominent cross roads with traffic lights. Go right and proceed to Hillsborough, an attractive village with its Castle where George Bush and Bill Clinton have both stayed, and the Queen periodically drops in to host a garden party. As you drive in to Hillsborough look for a sharp left turn up a slight hill which is the road to Ballinahinch (The B177) Follow it for 9 miles and there join the A24 south to Newcastle.

If you come by ferry from Scotland, the Cairnryan-Larne service has the shortest sailing time but the Stranraer-Belfast sailing reduces the driving you must do. In either case pick up the A24 south to Newcastle. If you live in Wales or anywhere in Southern England, don't forget the Holyhead to Dun-Laoghaire Ferry. It might be more practical than any of the other ferry routes. Escaping from Dublin is not entirely trivial, but the newly opened tunnel takes you from Dublin's dockland directly to the motorway (even though the toll is exhorbitent !). Once established on the North-bound Motorway it's not a difficult journey. For more detailed directions you can access a direction finder here

Getting here: - from Continental Europe

There are now quite a number of direct flights from Continental Cities to one or other of Belfast's two airports. This makes it very easy to get to the Mountains of Mourne from, for example, Amsterdam, Paris or a number of other cities. By flying into Belfast and picking up a hire car you can be in the Mournes in a few hours. It takes just a little longer to travel via Dublin airport, which has, if anything an even greater range of direct flights from the continent. From Northern european cities like Amsterdam, it is now as fast, easy and economical to get to the mournes as it is to get to the alps - as more and more of our Dutch Friends are discovering. Use the information given above to guide your road journey from the airport.

So what should do on your First Mournes weekend?

Obviously this will depend on your fitness and experience and on what the weather allows. If you are fit and seeking a good weekend's hard walking and a chance to see and appreciate this area, then here are some recommendations. Details may be found by using the main Mourne area guide.

  • Day 1: Take the road to the car park at Clonacullion, head up the trassey track and follow route 10 to the top of Slieve Meelmore. Pause to admire the rocky North western face of Slieve Bearnagh before reversing the upper part of Route 9 down to the Meelmore-Bearnagh col. Now follow the final part of route 7 to the summit of Slieve Bearnagh. To descend from here, reverse Route 8 to the Hare's gap and descend the trassey track back to Clonacullion. You will have climbed two of the seven peaks exceeding seven hundred metres and covered about 6 miles.

  • Day 2: Try a different part of the Mournes on your second day. Drive round to Annalong and go up to the Carricklittle car park. From here you have the possibility of a walk taking in both Slieve Binnian and Slieve Lamaghan. The most natural approach is to climb Slieve Binnian first, traverse its long ridge westwards to the high col between the two peaks, with excellent views over the Ben Crom reservoir, and then ascend Slieve Lamaghan from there. This involves following route 13 to the summit of Slieve Binnian, and then reversing route 14 down to the Binnian-Lamaghan col. From here you follow the final part of route 15a to the Summit of Lamaghan and then reverse route 15b back to Carricklittle. Note that while this is a perfectly feasible outing for a fit party it is a substantial day's walking. If you are unsure of your fitness, or perhaps on short winter days, you might be advised to traverse just one of the two peaks.

  • Day 3: Many people will want to climb the highest Mourne summit before going home. If you still have energy left this is the thing to do. Possibilities include a simple up and down ascent, for example using route 1 or route 3. However the finest outing by far, is the horse-shoe walk that goes over both Slieve Donard, and Slieve Commedagh the two highest Mourne summits. This magnificant outing involves well over 3000 ft of climbing and descending. The route can be done in either direction, but the best approach is to climb Slieve Donard first, and the best (not the easiest!) route to follow is route 2 which goes steeply up the broad North ridge of the mountain. From the summit reverse route 1 down as far as the Donard-Commedagh col. Now climb Slieve Commedagh by following the upper part of route 4. Descend by following route 6 back down to Newcastle.

Accomodation in the Mourne area

The Mournes area offers a range of accomodation types including hotels, guest houses, hostels and, for the young at heart, camping. In many cases information is readily available on external sites, but to help you find what you need, the following information has been assembled from various sources including our local knowledge. The list is not necessarily complete and is provided in good faith. If your hotel or guest house is not mentioned, or the information given is not accurate, let us know. Users please note that inclusion herein does not constitute a recommendation. Users of the guide must check that the accomodation offered meets their needs before booking. Note also that some accomodation listed here is some distance from the main mountain area, e.g. in Downpatrick or WarrenPoint. This is not an issue for the car borne mountaineer. However those without vehicular transport may find that accomodation in the Newcastle - Annalong - Kilkeel area is most convenient.

Guest houses and B&Bs

The Guest houses listed below are located in, or close to, Newcastle, Co Down

Beach House

Beach House Guest House is located at 22 Downs Road Newcastle with views over the sea and En-Suite rooms. To contact Phone Newcastle (028) 4372 2345.

A.L. Biggerstaff

This B&B is at 103 Central Promenade Newcastle. Phone (028) 4372 4312

Castlebridge House

Located at 2 Central Promenade Newcastle. Phone (028) 4372 3209.

The Fairy Glen

Located at 10 TullyBrannign Road Newcastle. Phone (028) 4372 3810.

B Grimley B&B

Family run B&B at 3 Slievenamaddy Avenue Newcastle. Phone (028) 4372 5285 or 07841 630587.

Oakleigh House

Oakleigh is at 30 Middle Tollymore Road Newcastle. Phone (028) 4372 6816.

The Arundel Guest House

The Arundel Guest House is at 23 Bryansford Road Newcastle. For Reservations phone 4372 2232.

Aveens B&B

Open all year with en-suite rooms and parking. Location at 16 Marguerite Pk Newcastle. Phone 4372 6801.

The Ashmount Guest House

The Ashmount Guest house is located at 27 Bryansford Road Newcastle. It offers full en suite facilities TV in the room and parking facilities and its open all year. For reservations phone (028) 4372 5074.

The Cherry Villa Guest house

The Cherry Villa guest house is at 12 Bryansford Gardens, Newcastle. Rooms are en suite and parking is available. For reservations phone (028) 4372 4128.

The Guest Houses listed below are outside Newcastle but close enough to be suitable as a base for exploring the Mountains of Mourne, if you have a car!

Ardmore House

This Family run B&B at 1 Ardmore Avenue Downpatrick is open all year round. phone (028) 4461 3028 or 07817702255.

Dunleaph House B&B

Located at 33 St. Patrick's Drive Downpatrick. Phone (028) 4482 1134.

Morne Abbey Guest House

Morne Abbey Guest House is at 16 Greencastle Road, Kilkeel. This is on the south-eastern side of the Mournes close to Slieve Binnian. For reservations phone (028) 4176 2426.

The Fir Trees Guest house

Located at 18 Victoria Square Rostrever. Phone (028) 4173 8281.

Hillside B&B

Located at 62 Scotch street Downpatrick Phone (028) 4461 3134.

Hillview House

Located at 18 Attical Bog Road Kilkeel. Phone (028) 4176 4269.

Sharo Farm

6 Ballykeel Road, Ballymartin Kilkeel. Phone (028) 4176 2521.

Pheasant's Hill Farm

Pheasant's Hill Guest House is at 37 Killyleagh Road Downpatrick. For reservations phone (028) 4461 7246.

Hotels

The Avoca Hotel

Located at 93-97 Central Promenade Newcastle, with magnificant views over the sea. For reservations Phone (028) 4372 2253 or 4372 3464.

The Burrendale Hotel

The Burrendale is located at 51 Castlewellan road Newcastle. Phone (028) 4372 2599 for reservations.

The Enniskeen Hotel

Located just outside Newcastle at 98 Bryansford road, with magnificent mountain views. Phone (028) 4372 2392.

THe Harbour House Inn

Located at 6-8 South Promenade Newcastle on the road to Annalong. Phone (028) 4372 3535.

The Slieve Donard Resort & Spa

This is the large prominent Hotel complex on Downs Road at the North end of Newcastle. Phone (028) 4372 1066.

The Bay Inn

The Bay Inn is about 3 miles North of Newcastle at 157 Main Street Dundrum. Phone (028)4375 1209.

Other Holiday Accomodation

MeelMore Lodge

Located at 52 Trassey Road, Bryansford, Meelmore Lodge offers hostel accommodation for up to 36 people in dormitories and en-suite rooms, and has an extensive campsite. There is also a secure car park and coffee shop. Contact them on (028)4372 5949, (028)4372 6657, or on 07934666842, or visit their web site at www.meelmorelodge.com

Ballinran Mourne Holiday and Conference Centre

This holiday centre is located at 42 Ballinran Road, Kilkeel. Phone (028) 4176 5727.

Glenside Farmhouse

Glenside Farmhouse is at 136 Tullybrannigan Road Newcastle. Phone (028) 4372 2628.

Newcastle Country Cottages

cottage accomodation located at Rockmount, Churchhill Newcastle. Phone (028) 4375 1202 or 07966472298. www.newcastlecountrycottages.com.

Mourne Cottages

Located at 47 Ballyloughlin Road, Newcastle. Phone (028) 4375 1251. www.mournecottages.com

Mountains of Mourne Country cottages

Cottages located at Hannas close, Aughnahoory Road Kilkeel. Phone (028) 4176 5999.

Lecale Cottages

Located at 45 Newtown road Rostrevor. Phone (028) 4173 8727.

Newcastle Youth Hostel

The Youth Hostel is at 30 Down's Road Newcastle, close to the sea. Phone (028) 4372 2133.

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