Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Take in the view from the majestic Mournes

One of the most off-putting things about walking can be the nerve-wracking stretches that follow our increasingly busy roads.

So peace of mind comes with this linear route that is entirely off-road and follows the foothills of the Mourne Mountains.

As you make your way from Rostrevor on Carlingford Lough to Leitrim Lodge, you will be able to appreciate the spectacular glories of the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a unique, largely granite landscape shaped by ice and man, with stunning vistas of coast, sea and countryside.

Directions

From Rostrevor follow the signs to Rostrevor Forest and Kilbroney. Once in the forest, follow the tarmac road to the first car park, located in Kilbroney Park and equipped with accessible toilets, children’s area and a café.

The Mourne Way starts at the exit of the car park, opposite the café. The route begins next to the interpretative panels situated near the exit of the car park. Turn left.

The route is waymarked all the way to Leitrim Lodge. Follow the tarmac road straight. After approximately 2 kms, follow the path going uphill to the right — again, follow the waymarkers.

The path follows a steep hill for approximately 1 km, but from the top the path runs in an almost straight line to Leitrim Lodge. It is a gentle walk on forest paths or mountain tracks and again, it is waymarked all along the route.

When you cross the Batt’s wall, nearly halfway between Yellow Water and Leitrim Lodge, you leave the forest to enter the Batt’s Estate. Look out for the beautiful Scots pines and the two Mass rocks.

Enjoy the view over Carlingford Lough and the beautiful countryside. There are picnic areas at Yellow Water, pleasantly located next to the river, and at Leitrim Lodge on the foot of Tornamrock.

The Backdrop

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

The village has a number of beautiful walkways through Rostrevor Forest and Kilbroney Park.

As a backdrop to Kilbroney Park stands 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 has a breathtaking two-mile forest drive providing panoramic views over Carlingford Lough.

It also features an old oak plantation dating from the 18th century, the famous 40 tonne Big Stone and a host of animals ranging from grouse and Irish jays to pine martens, squirrels, foxes and badgers.

Throughout its length, the walk offers fantastic views over Carlingford Lough, the Cooley Mountains and the Mourne Mountains.

On your way to Leitrim Lodge, look for the Scots pines of the old Batt’s Estate Plantation and the two Mass rocks — one on the side of the path and the other higher up on the ridge near Batt's Wall.

The 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.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), tel: 028 9030 393 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: Mourne Way – section from Kilbroney Park to Leitrim Lodge.

Area: The Mournes — Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Nearest big town to start point: Rostrevor.

Distance: 10 kilometres.

Terrain: The route follows forest paths and mixed mountain terrain. Steep in places.

Access Restrictions: Part of this walk is 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 Rostrevor (in the lower car park). There|is also a good choice of cafés and pubs in the village.

Publications: Mourne Way: An Illustrated Guide to Walking the Mourne Way. Available from TICs. Up-to-date information is available on the Forest Service website, forestserviceni.gov.uk

Walk Developed By: Newry and Mourne District Council and Down District Council.

Map: Maps covering the route of the Mourne Way are Sheet 29 of the Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland (OSNI), Discoverer Series (1:50,000) map and the Mournes map (1:25,000).

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