Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Walk of the Week: Kilbroney Park to Leitrim Lodge

This linear route is entirely off road, traversing the foothills of the Mourne Mountains from Rostrevor on Carlingford Lough to Leitrim Lodge.

The Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a unique, largely granite landscape shaped by ice and man, with stunning vistas of coast, sea and countryside.

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

On your way to Leitrim Lodge, watch 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.

Directions

From Rostrevor, follow the signs to Rostrevor Forest & Kilbroney. Once in the forest, follow the tarmac road to the first car park. This is located in Kilbroney Park, which has accessible toilets and a café. The Mourne Way starts at the exit of the car park, opposite the café.

From the car park, start next to the interpretative panels situated near the exit of the car park and turn left. The route is waymarked all the way to Leitrim Lodge. Follow the tarmac road straight ahead.

After approximately 2km, follow the path going uphill to the right (again follow the waymarkers).

The path follows a steep hill for approximately 1km. From the top, the path runs in an almost straight line to Leitrim Lodge — this section is on forest paths or mountain tracks and is waymarked all the way.

When you cross the Batt’s wall (nearly half way between Yellow Water and Leitrim Lodge), you leave the forest to enter the Batt’s Estate. Look for the beautiful Scots pines and the two mass rocks, one on the side of the path and the other higher up on the ridge near Batt’s Wall.

Enjoy the view over Carlingford Lough and the beautiful countryside. There are picnic areas pleasantly located next to the river at Yellow Water as well as at Leitrim Lodge on the foot of Tornamrock. Retrace your steps back to the start point.

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

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 Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland, The Stableyard, Barnett’s Demesne, Malone Rd, Belfast BT9 5PB, tel: 028 9030 3930 or visit walkni.com.

Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (formerly CAAN) in association with Belfast Telegraph has provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland 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: Kilbroney Park to Leitrim Lodge — part of the Mourne Way.

Area: The Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Nearest big town to start point: Rostrevor.

Distance: 6.2 miles.

Terrain: Forest paths and mixed mountain terrain that is 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 NI Direct web site for updated information: nidirect.gov.uk/forests.

Refreshments: There are picnic facilities, refreshments, children’s play areas and toilets available at Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor. There is also a good choice of cafés and pubs in Rostrevor village.

Publications: Mourne Way: An Illustrated Guide to Walking the Mourne Way.

Walk Developed By: Newry and Mourne 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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