I left Cabinteely (Dublin 18) via the M50 and took the M1 /N1 FOR Belfast. I exited for Newry at the B113 Forkhill intersection. Coming down into Newry town, keep a sharp look out for signs for the “Mourne mountains coastal route”, at a set of traffic lights on the RHS. This will lead you through Warrenpoint and along the coast to Newcastle. It took me 2hr 45m.
The entrance to “Slieve Donard” is from a car park entrance on Newcastle`s sea front. You will see a tarmac car park and a supermarket on your RHS. Keep straight on and you will come to the park itself with places to park on the grass.
The start of the walk is on your left near a green metal fence. There seems to have been a sign at one point but only the support structure remains.It then goes through a small mixed forest and crosses the “Glen river”, a number of time`s. If memory serves me correctly there were 4 bridges crossing (L,R,L,L) but don’t stray to far as essentially you are hugging this small river up the valley. It’s a popular walk with locals, so if in doubt just ask. The chances are they are doing the same walk !!!
The mixed forest changes to conifer before revealing “Millstone”(460m),”Crossone (540m) and “Slieve Donard” (850m) on your left and the “Glen river” you have been following which now snakes up the valley. There is an old ice house which has been restored on the other side of the stream.
There is a good man – made path up the valley and you follow this all the way until it finally crosses the “Glen river” near the end. This leads to a short sharp ascent, up to the dip between “Slieve Donard” and the mountain on its right.
On clambering to the top, you are faced with the remnants of a neolithic tomb and a massive stone wall, one of the many that traverse around the “Mournes”. There is a nice view down the valley towards Newcastle and the sea beyond.
Follow the stone wall to the left up to “Slieve Donard”. The path is a bit eroded and seems to be in the process of repair. It was a bit slippy so I would advise a stick, as I saw a number of climbers struggling on the way down.
There was a muscular gentleman with skimpy shorts and a weightlifting top just ahead of me. He was bald headed with calves the size of tree trunks. Though I cannot be certain, I think it was “Johnny Adair” as I had recently watched a documentary about him. He had made friends with a local who was complaining about the number of foreigners in town. I decided to keep my distance !!!
There was a bit of sliding to get to the top but nothing like “Croagh Patrick”. There is the remains of another neolithic passage tomb on-top, which is now decorated with a number of memorials. There are also some nice views.
It was a bit of a scramble getting back down to the first cairn, as the surface was very eroded and it was very easy to lose your footing on the shale. Once there it was relatively easy, though slow getting down to the valley below. I believe there are other pathways down from the top but as a novice, I re-traced my steps. It seemed the most popular option judging from others.
The whole walk from start to finish took me 3 ½ hours. Though I enjoyed it, I did not feel I had really got away from Newcastle and civilization. Its for this reason that I would probably not do this walk again