Newcastle is the natural kicking off point for many Mourne Mountain explorations. For many this means an ascent of Slieve Donard – which is likely to be memorable, if not always entirely enjoyable. Rather too much up and down and not enough along and across for some, including myself. However, what many miss is that Newcastle is also a good starting point for a whole range of interesting diverse mid-level circular routes in the Mourne foothills. These routes may also be appropriate at times when access to the high Mournes would be too difficult, dangerous or simply unpleasant owing to winter conditions, inclement weather or cloud.
The little used ‘Mourne Way’ route out of Newcastle, first through parkland, then along the banks of the Shimna River and onto Tipperary Lane followed by a short road walk up to the east corner of Tollymore Forest, provides an excellent start to many possible ‘Great Days Out’. The two options below should just be your starting points.
|Tollymore East and Donard Forest from Newcastle||4 miles / 6.4 km||600 feet climb|
|Tollymore and Donard Forest Viewpoints||6.3 miles / 10.1 km||1250 feet climb|
They should both be considered introductory hill walks, with the second option significantly longer and more physical. Please take careful note of the precautions and equipment advice given. Also see the post Get a Mountain Map (and look at it)!