Slieve Donard a walk in the park
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Slieve Donard is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, at 852 metres (2,795 ft). It is situated by the small seaside town of Newcastle on the east coast an hour south of Belfast.
Slieve Donard may not be the highest mountain in the UK, but as you sart the walk from the costal town of Newcastle, you do climb the full 2795 ft as opposed to the other peaks of England and Wales.
Our morning breakfast was provided by the cafe in the central of Newcastle by the bridge, a full breakfast of bacon, sausages, eggs, soda bread, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast to give anyone enough energy for the climb.
The walk is well marked and the trail is easy to follow. It took our team of 8 around 3.5 hours not bad given our ages ranged from 42 up to 60.
The start of the walk takes you up through woodland following a stream, you emerge at around 1200ft above the tree line by the ice house a stone shaped building in the shape of an igloo. We had a sunny day and the views back down the valley to the coast were glorious.
Another hour walking alongside the river takes you up to the Mourne Wall, built to define the boundary of the water board in 1920. This wall follows the ridge and takes you right to the top of Slieve Donard. It's an intersting site a wall at such a high level, it is intact for most of it's length and offers a different view than other walks in mountains. The view from this point are great and trails lead off to other peaks and back down the far valley.
The walk along the walk was steep but rewading, their is a cairn at the top and the views across the sea of the neighbourhing peaks and the wall in the distance were stunning, helped by a lovely sunny day.
We took a path out to Bloody Bridge, this trail was not as well marked and the path very uneven, I wouldn't try to walk in ths way as it was tedious and the views not as good as the route from Newcastle.
There is a conflux of two streams and quarrying along this route and it would be easy to get the wrong side of the river, on the desent.
Overall it took around 7 hours to go up an down and welcoming pint was enjoyed in Newcastle afterwards