The people of Mourne, Gullion and Strangford aim to embed the ethos of sustainability throughout the community.  The region is recognised as a UNESCO Global Geopark - a place of unique landscape and cultural heritage. Crucial to this recognition is sustainability in tourism around Mourne, Gulliion and Strangford 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 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 tranquility 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 the Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion, 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 Adventure Centre 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. East Coast Adventure Centre have just completed sustainability training.  Here you can escape your busy life and make this your perfect base for hiking, walking and mountain biking in the Mournes. It also offers canoeing, pier jumping, banana boating, kayaking tours, zip line, archery, wet river bouldering, mountain biking, yacht trips and team building. 

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 in the Mournes. 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. Check out the Master Craft Chocolate Experience to find out more.

Sustainable Ways to Travel around Mourne Gullion Strangford

The region is serviced by a good public transport network.  Newry City is connected by both a train and bus station.  The train runs daily, on a  regular schedule, from Belfast and Dublin.  Connecting buses allow you to take public transport across the district.  Check out our information on how to travel around the area.  You will be able to plan the best option of transport to suit your needs.

As you can tell, our landscape is precious here in the Mourne Gullion Strangford UNESCO Global Geopark 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
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
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
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
Health & Wellbeing
Four attendees to Xhale Mindfulness meditating in the forest.

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
Paddling boarding on Castlewellan Lake

Epic adventures are on offer all year round at Life Adventure Centre. Their extensive range of activities include mountain biking, stand-up paddleboarding, wet bouldering, rock climbing, sit on top kayaking, coasteering, electric biking and open canoeing - something for everyone!

Murlough National Nature Reserve
The National Trust
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

Join us for a look around our brewery, see how we make some of our award winning brews, then head back to the Tap House where you can try some ales and hear some tales.

Master Craft Chocolate Experience
Food Tour
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Northern Ireland's first bean to bar craft chocolate makers and the oldest in Ireland. NearyNógs chocolate is small batch crafted on the Mourne Coast. Our family friendly chocolate factory has breath taking views of the Irish Sea, Carlingford Lough & the Mourne Mountains. We take great pride in our chocolate making. Every process is meticulously controlled so that every cacao beans' origin, of fine flavour, shines through.

Tide to Table Taste Tour Experience "Wild and Free Savour the Seas"
Cultural Learning Experiences
Tide to Table Taste Tour Experience "Wild and Free Savour the Seas"

Meet and Greet Kilkeel Harbour Co Down. Forage Nicholsons Strand for a profile of seaweeds from Silk Island along to Home Port. Listen to the endearing call of the Sea Birds Dare to Wild Sea Swim or dip those feet in the brinny waters at Crawfords Rock Gather a Seaweed Spa Bath to take home as a reminder of your day. Enjoy a Coastal Flavours Extravaganza Feast Oysters, Crab, Mussels, all with our Tide To Table Seaweeds, Locally Baked Artisan Breads and Cheeses in the warmth of the Boat House as we return to the Harbour Kilkeel Relax and Sit and Chat a while we ask that you leave nothing behind but footprints in the sand.

Sustainable Journeys Ireland
Guided Tour
Making a St Brigid Cross

Immersive, hands-on ancient Irish cultural heritage experience in the Saint Patrick Centre Downpatrick.

Kilbroney Park
Forest Parks
Children being photographed in Kilbroney Park

Kilbroney Park features riverside walks and an arboretum. There is a two-mile forest drive which showcases panoramic views over Carlingford Lough. There is also a Play Park with children's play area and tennis courts, an Information area and a café all on site.

Castlewellan Forest Park
Forest Parks
View of the Annesley Walk in Castlewellan Forest Park

Located on Forest Park View, Castlewellan, County Down, in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea, Castlewellan Forest Park has one of the most outstanding tree and shrub collections in Europe. The beauty, vigour and perfect shape of the trees in the National Arboretum attract tree enthusiasts from around the world.

East Coast Adventure Centre
Activity Centre
East Coast Adventure Centre

East Coast Adventure Centre - Newry & Mourne Mountain area. Water sports, Cycling, Hiking, School Activities - Family Fun - Glamping - a perfect location outside Rostrevor Village and 5 mins from Warrenpoint

Bike Mourne
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Cyclists on bikes from Bike Mourne, Newcastle admiring the Mourne Mountains from the Promenade, Newcastle, County Down

Experience the Mournes by bike on road, track and trail with the guided and self-guided bike and electric bike tours or do it yourself with bike and electric bike hire. Explore the majestic mountains, dramatic coasts, stunning landscapes, enchanting forests, award winning mountain bike trails and endless year-round cycle adventures.

Ring of Gullion
Group on lane looking over Ring of Gullion mountains

Slieve Gullion Forest Park is in the heart of the Ring of Gullion. The Ring of Gullion is a unique geological landform – unparalleled elsewhere in Ireland or the UK – and was the first ring dyke in the world to be geologically mapped. The ring of low, rugged hills forms a ‘rampart’ around the heather-clad Slieve Gullion.