Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

How you can walk in the footsteps of giants

At the southern gateway to the Mourne Mountains lies the picturesque village of Rostrevor, an area of historical interest and folklore.

It doesn’t take too much walking before you can reach deep into the trees of Rostrevor Forest, a haunt of the rare red squirrel and somewhere that commands magnificent views over Carlingford Lough.

However, you can experience those views without exhausting yourself, thanks to the forest roads — the Cloughmore car park lies 230m above sea level and offers views of the surrounding forest. There are three waymarked trails, which vary in length from 1.25 miles to 4.5 miles, and take the visitor to various areas within the forest to enjoy the many magnificent views and beauty of the woodlands.

Today’s walk will take you to the famous 40-tonne Cloughmore Stone.

Directions

From Rostrevor follow the signs to Rostrevor Forest and Kilbroney. Once inside the forest, follow the tarmac road uphill to the second car park. This is accessed via a one-way system.

The lower car park in Kilbroney Park offers accessible toilets and a café. From the car park, pass the interpretative panels and follow the black arrowed waymarkers up the steep hill to the Cloghmore Stone. Keep on the left path.

You cannot miss the stone, which is at the top on your left hand side. The local legend tells us that the giant stone was tossed across Carlingford Lough from the Cooley Mountains opposite during a fight between the legendary Irish giant Finn McCool and his arch-rival Ruscaire, the Ice Giant.

You can either retrace your steps back to the car park or you can follow the circular walk. Just follow the black arrowed waymarkers — from the stone, go back approximately 150m and follow the path that veers to the left. It goes down very steeply.

You will reach a stone parapet, where you can enjoy the beautiful views over Rostrevor, Warrenpoint and Carlingford Lough. Go right and follow the path, staying on the upper route. The route will bring you back to the car park where you started the walk.

The Backdrop

Lying at the southern entrance to the Mournes is the picturesque village of Rostrevor, an area of historical interest and folklore. Well-known features include the ‘Big Stone' (Cloc Mor), St Bronagh's 6th Century Church and Bell and Giant Murphy's Grave.

From the village, walkers can reach a number of beautiful trails through Rostrevor Forest and Kilbroney Park. The backdrop to Kilbroney Park is the impressive 4,000 acre Rostrevor Forest, rising sharply from 30m to 500m above sea level.

Planted in 1931 mostly with coniferous species, the forest harbours a breathtaking two-mile forest drive providing panoramic views over Carlingford Lough, an old oak plantation dating from the 18th century, the Cloughmore Stone and a host of animals ranging from Irish jays to pine martens, red squirrels, foxes and badgers.

From the top car park and from the Big Stone, there are spectacular views of the Mourne Mountains, Carlingford Lough and the Cooley peninsula.

Kilbroney Park offers a wide range of facilities and services, which include tennis courts, children's play area, playing fields, an arboretum, barbecue and picnic areas and café. A well-serviced caravan and camping site caters for 52 touring vans and 30 tents.

Responsible Walking

Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) endorses the principles of Leave No Trace, which mean recreational users can minimise their impact on the countryside while still enjoying activities with freedom. For more information, visit leavenotraceireland.org

Further information

For more information on the area, contact the Tourist Information Centre in Newry, tel: 028 3031 3170 or in Warrenpoint, tel: 028 417 52256.

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact CAAN, tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com .

CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

Walk Name: Cloughmore Stone.

Area: Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Nearest big town to start point: Rostrevor.

Distance: 1.3 miles.

Terrain: Off-road, steep in places.

Access Restrictions: These walks are situated in a working forest environment and may be subject to diversion and closure from time to time. Check the Forest Service NI web site for updated information: forestserviceni.gov.uk

Refreshments: Picnic facilities, refreshments, children's play areas and toilets are available at Kilbroney park (in the lower car park).

Publications: Up-to-date information is available on the Forest Service web site: www.forestserviceni.gov.uk

Walk Developed By: Rostrevor Forest is owned and managed by DARD Forest Service. Kilbroney Park is owned and managed by Newry and Mourne District Council.

Map: Sheet 29 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop, Lincoln Buildings 27-45 Great Victoria Street Belfast BT2 7SL ( lpsni.gov.uk )

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