The people of Visit Mourne aim to embed the ethos of sustainability throughout the community. In 2019 the region became a Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100, the first region in the UK to do so. Now the region is applying to become a UNESCO Global Geopark - recognition as a place of unique landscape and cultural heritage. Crucial to that recognition is sustainability in tourism around Visit Mourne, and there are many great places who are only too willing to do their bit for the love of the area and its future generations.

Sustainable places to stay

Green Holiday Cottages are four beautifully kept cottages in a secluded riverside setting near Kilkeel. They offer the chance to escape and spend some time away with family or to take part in their Pilates and Wellness Retreat. Sitting at the foot of the Mournes, you are close to Kilbroney Forest Park and the majestic gardens of Castlewellan. The site offers some local forest tracks and trails while the Mountains of Mourne provide fantastic scenery and a wonderful challenge for the body and mind. For children there is an outdoor play area and they’ll surely have great fun watching you grapple with the outdoor pizza ovens.

Just a stone’s throw from here are the wonderful Hanna’s Close Irish Holiday Cottages, eight cottages that were once a community. There has been a settlement here in some shape or form since the early 1600s and though some changes have been made, they retain their essence and compliment the surrounding countryside. With the Mournes in view and the Kilkeel River running by, you’ll get nothing but peace and quiet staying here.

There’s a little piece of heaven a little further north at Killeavy Castle Estate. Offering peace and quiet along with great treatments and exceptional food in beautifully manicured surroundings this spot in the Ring of Gullion oozes relaxation and a sense of freshness. Many of the ingredients used in their kitchen are grown right here and while your meal is being prepared you can relax in their water therapy pools, their outdoor hot tub or take a gentle stroll around their gardens. Killeavy pride themselves on their sustainability policy. They have a zero plastic rule, electricity use is kept to a minimum and they have even arranged the rooms to make the best use of natural light.

Sustainable things to do

The Sound of Silence Retreat at Ann Ward’s Xhale in the Mournes is an immersive, mindfulness experience and retreat mixing meditation, nature and the occasional hot stone massage. It teaches visitors the arts and benefits of quietening your mind and is a great way of reconnecting with both yourself and nature.

Geographer and chartered environmentalist, Brigid Watson, takes great pride in bringing her tours closer to nature on her Sustainable Journeys Ireland tours around Strangford Lough. As she reads the landscape and offers an authentic sense of Visit Mourne, she shares the fascinating stories of the people and place. You’ll be immersed in nature and have an opportunity to connect with the natural environment around you.

For those who like their sustainability at a slightly faster pace, the Life Adventure Centre in Castlewellan offers fully-guided Electric Mountain Biking experiences that take small groups along their dedicated track across the Mourne Mountains. The centre has a whole host of other activity offerings including archery, canoeing and the increasingly popular wet bouldering. Life boasts the Gold standard in the global Green Tourism Awards - one of the best in class at keeping its forest park clean, green and above all fun.

As we all know the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea and one way of enjoying it all is with Crawford’s Rock Seaweed Company. On the company’s popular Foraging Tours, you learn how to harvest seaweed and discover how it is used in so many different aspects of traditional life of Visit Mourne. After you take a seaweed bath, try their award-winning seaweed tea before cooking up a flavoursome fishy feast.

Walkers, birdwatchers and butterfly experts should make their way to the Murlough National Nature Reserve a fragile 6000-year-old sand dune system and the island’s first Nature Reserve. There is a carefully constructed network of paths and boardwalks through the dunes, woodland and heath from where you can enjoy a colorful array of butterflies and wildflowers as well as the ever-present Mournes. The walk brings you down to the beautiful Murlough Beach.

Sustainable things to eat and drink

Meat lovers will find what they are looking for at Castlescreen Farm near Downpatrick. This small farm with its ‘wee cows’ produces ‘big beef’ without any fertilisers or pesticides. The Irish Dexters animals feed solely on the clover rich grass that covers the farm and the results are quite outstanding. Visit their on-site shop and take away some slabs of beef to rustle up on your barbecue.

You’ll need a beer to go with that of course and given the Whitewater Brewery is just fifteen minutes away, you might as well stop by here and say hello. The Sloans are always happy to welcome visitors to their fifth-generation family farm and they’re always up for telling the story of their brewery on their excellent tours. Find out how they have been using water from local streams to produce their wonderful brews since 1996 and how they have gone from their grandfather’s shed to world-beaters.

Of course you’re going to need a little aperitif while standing at the grill and less than an hour away you’ll find the finest around. Located close to the shores of Carlingford Lough, Killowen Distillery makes its very own seasonal gin from the finest local botanicals foraged in their countryside. This exceptional tipple can be enjoyed on one of their distillery tours and they’ll only be too happy to let you take some home.

Gin is all the rage in this neck of the woods. At NearyNógs Chocolatier they even put it in their truffles. This family-run business uses ethically sourced cocoa beans for which it pays above market value to ensure those who grow them can make a decent living. They have an upbeat and experimental attitude to what they produce and the results are the likes of the wonderful Dúlamán Chocolate Bar which uses locally harvested gorse flower and Carlingford Irish seaweed mixed in with a high quality Dominican Chocolate.

As you can tell, our landscape is precious here in Visit Mourne, and that’s why our people do so much to take care of it, and take care of you too.

The Green Holiday Cottages - The Byre
Self-Catering
The Green Holiday Cottages - The Byre

The Byre is a 2 bedroom cottage which can sleep up to 4 people. The Byre has a lowered cooking and food preparation area in the kitchen so it suitable for someone who has limited mobility and who may require the use of wheelchair.

Hanna's Close Holiday Cottages - Callaghan's Cottage
Self-Catering
Hanna's Close Holiday Cottages - Callaghan's Cottage

This cottage is a traditional Mourne Cottage situated in its garden surrounded by stone walls. It is heated by oil and has anopen fire. It is situated down a quiet lane well away from the road.

Killeavy Castle Estate
Hotel
Aerial view of Killeavy Castle Estate. A luxury Hotel Spa destination in Newry, Northern Ireland.

Welcome to Killeavy Castle Estate, the perfect antidote to the modern fast paced world. Named winner of the Luxury Castle Hotel (Europe) Award at the prestigious World Luxury Awards 2021, it’s the ideal place to escape and unwind, and is located just 10 minutes outside Newry City.

Xhale Mindfulness
Spa and Well-being
Xhale Mindfulness

Ann inherited her great love of the landscape from her mother, who was born on Slieve Gullion Mountain. She has practiced meditation for over 20 years & delivers immersive, mindfulness experiences, courses & retreats using meditation &the landscape.

Life Adventure Centre
Activity Centre
Life Adventure Centre

Whether your preference is laid back or action packed, join us at our award winning centre in the beautiful Castlewellan Forest Park amid the stunning Mourne Mountains for a host of fantastic adventure activities.

Murlough National Nature Reserve
Nature and Wildlife
Murlough National Nature Reserve

Murlough National Nature Reserve is a fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust and managed as Ireland’s first Nature Reserve since 1967. It is an excellent area for walking and bird watching.

Whitewater Brewery Tours and Tap Room
Brewery/Distillery Tour
Whitewater Brewery Tours and Tap Room

Whitewater Brewery established in 1996 brewing award winning craft beers. With our new purpose-built production site, Whitewater Brewery now welcomes visitors to hear about our journey and taste some of our award-winning beers.

Killowen Distillery Tour
Brewery/Distillery Tour
Killowen Distillery Tour

Killowen Distillery is seated in the heart of the Mournes in County Down where horizons are framed by sweeping hills that slope gently into the sea.