Slieve Donard – This Down County, near Newcastle, 850 meters high, it’s the highest peak in the Morne Mountains and the highest mountain in Northern Ireland. Its peak offers a view of the Irish Sea and other peaks in the Morne Mountains.
The Morne mountain range is truly stunning and has as many as 12 peaks exceeding a height of 600 meters, and the mountains are crisscrossed by iconic stone walls that are a recognizable sign for these mountains, and in its offer this range has plenty of trails for people of different ages and skills .
According to legend, Saint Donard was the most famous student of Saint Patrick and built on the summit Slieve Donard, a small prayer chapel, which became his hermitage. At the top there are also the remains of two ancient burial mounds. It is also worth paying attention to the wall itself, which crosses the mountains – this granite wall is about 1.5 meters high and stretches over a length of 35 kilometers and connects 15 different mountains with each other, and it was built in 1904 – 1922. What some people claim for the goal is to go the whole route of the wall – maybe we will go on such a trip someday.
This time we went on our trip in mid-March and we went on the route from Newcastle, this is not a difficult route, rather moderate, but the trip is really exhausting, it was 10.5 kilometers in total and it took us 5.5 hours, car we left in the Donard car park on the outskirts of Newcastle. Initially, the walking route leads us through a pine, birch, and oak forest along the Glen River, where we crossed bridges several times (fortunately, you do not need to soak your feet).
Above, the riverbank becomes steeper and the section becomes a bit more difficult, so be careful. After reaching the gate and skipping the dense forest on the right, we follow the path in the valley between Slieve Commedagh and Slieve Donard, at the end of this path the trail becomes steeper and leads us to the already famous Morne wall (don’t celebrate yet! – it’s not the summit yet). After reaching the wall, turn left and follow it – it will lead you to the very top – it sounds easy, but believe that this trip is quite exhausting, the more that there are several along the way we call it “false peaks” – you think that this is the end, and here the surprise, you have to go even higher. At the very top is the mound and observation point, and the wall turns 90 ° to the south – we had great weather until we reached the summit – here was snow and thick clouds, which only proved that choosing a trip to the mountains you have to be prepared not only for every weather, but also for every season of the year (we had a bit of summer downstairs, winter at the top).
In summary, this trail, and the views that you can enjoy while hiking, rewards all the effort you made to get there.