Top tips for walking in the mountains

The Mountains of Mourne and the Ring of Gullion are truly majestic. The views from their many peaks out across valleys, plains and seas are amongst the most spectacular in the world. When you come to visit us, we want you to enjoy them as much as we do and there are a few things we would like you to keep in mind before you take them on.

They are not the biggest, but they’re still big

The Mournes are not the highest mountains you’ll ever see but they are still among the highest peaks in Ireland. Slieve Donard is the highest in Northern Ireland and climbs to 2,790ft. There are five others within five hundred feet of it. So it’s worth remembering, these are no gentle hills, they are spectacular mountains and they command respect.

Respect the area and leave no trace

The Mournes have been here for a lot longer than we have and they will be here long after we are gone. Littering or leaving behind anything that you bring with you is not only bad manners but bad for the environment, dangerous for animals and an absolute eyesore in our beautiful landscape. We would also ask you to be mindful of how and where you park, making sure that the people who live and work in the area can go about their business while you enjoy their locality.

Please keep your dog on a lead where necessary, which in farming country means almost at all times. Please observe wild animals from a distance and under no circumstances should you attempt to feed them as it’s bad for their health and leaves them more vulnerable to predators. It’s also important that you keep a safe distance from farm animals and respect the work that goes on in the area.  We want visitors to make themselves at home while they are here, so treat the Mournes with the respect we all deserve. 

The Weather

It’s probably the first thing you’ll hear about us but just in case you weren’t aware, the weather in Northern Ireland is somewhat unpredictable. It is no exaggeration to say you might experience all seasons in a day, sometime in a morning so please prepare for rain and wind and even on the sunnier days remember that it will be colder and often windier at the top of a mountain. 

Enjoy your walk and watch your step

The Mournes are a mixture of rock and heathland. As a result they can be boggy in areas. Even on the sunniest of days there will always be patches of wet so you need to watch where you are walking and bring an extra pair of socks with you. You’ll need proper walking shoes and there’s no need to dress to impress - dress to stay safe and comfortable instead.

Clothes and comfort

Did we mention the weather? Well here we go again. Dress for the weather that you see, but prepare for the weather that might arrive. By all means look at the weather forecast, but do not rely on it. Things change and change quickly in this part of the world.

Keep the energy up

Bring plenty of things to eat and drink and make sure they are light enough to carry but enough to keep you going. Fruit, energy bars, chocolate, sandwiches can all give you a boost. Climbing and hiking will dehydrate you, and while there are many streams in the Mournes, we would suggest that you make sure that you have enough to drink with you. A mug of tea at the top of a Mourne’s peak is the tastiest cuppa you’ll ever have.

Bring a map

Please remember to take a map and compass with you and ensure you know how to use them, no matter how short the walk. Again it goes back to the weather. Because it can change very quickly you can soon be covered in cloud and you may need to rely on the map to return to your starting place. 

These seven steps to making the Mournes heaven are simple and many of them are obvious. We hope you don’t mind us reminding you, we just want to make sure you enjoy your time here, stay safe and respect the beauty around us.

Slieve Donard, Commedagh and Bearnagh
Walking & Hiking
Slieve Donard, Commedagh and Bearnagh

Challenging walk in the Mournes, including the two highest peaks

Ring of Gullion Way
Walking & Hiking
Ring of Gullion Way

A circular walk through and ancient volcanic landscape of the Ring of Gullion Way

Men of the Mournes
Historical Tours
Men of the Mournes

Join expert mountain guide Peter Rafferty as he stretches your imagination - and your legs - as you discover the sights and sounds of this special mountain range.