The Mourne Mountain range has a variety of hikes, trails, and scrambles. We only had one afternoon in the area so we decided to form a half day loop which would expose us to the largest variety of scenery and leave a satisfying taste of what the area has to offer.
Our route ambled up along the Trassey River towards the Hares Gap. From there we summited Slieve Bearnagh, scrambled down to the saddle between Slieve Bearnagh and Meelmore and continued following The Mourne Wall to the summit of Slieve Meelmore. We then descended to the Happy Valley car park and walked Trassey Rd back to our car.
We parked at the Trassey Car Park and continued up the road a few hundred feet until we reached a gated gravel road.
We continued towards the mountains ambling through patches of forest and open farm land.
As we approached the base of Slieve Meelmore the gravel path became more rough and began gaining elevation.
The path follows the Trassey River towards the base of Slieve Bearnagh.
Near the base of the mountain the trail splits several times. One path continues along the Northern base of Slieve Bearnagh, but if you have plans to summit the mountain aim towards the Hares Gap.
The Hares Gap is the saddle between Slieve Bearnagh and Slievenaglogh Mountain. The climb to the gap is steep, strenuous, bouldery, and often extremely wet. As we hopped from one boulder to another to avoid the running water we were rewarded with fantastic views.
Once you reach The Hares Gap you will get your first glimpse of The Mourne Wall.
The 22 mile (35 km) stone wall was constructed between 1904 and 1922 and connects all 15 summits in the Mourne Mountains.
We hopped over the wall and continued right toward the summit of Slieve Bearnagh.
There isn’t much of a trail so use The Mourne Wall as a reference point as you make your way up.
The views of the Mourne Mountain range and extensiveness of The Mourne Wall are mind blowing.
Looking back at the Hares Gap from half way up Slieve Bearnagh.
Finally the summit and its towering granite tors are in view.
The views from the summit are incredible and stretch in every direction. Some dark ominous looking clouds only added to the experience.
Looking back towards the Hares Gap and Slievenaglogh Mountain.
Looking North West towards Slieve Meelmore.
Looking South East towards Slieve Binnian.
Looking South West towards the bogs at the base of Slieve Muck.
After taking in the sights we decided to continue following The Mourne Wall down the North Western face of Slieve Bearnagh. We found this side to be far steeper and rocky than the ascent from the Hares Gap.
Another amazing view of Slieve Muck from halfway down Slieve Bearnagh.
Continue down the mountain towards the saddle between Slieve Bearnagh and Slieve Meelmore. Here you will find another wooden hop-over.
Hoping over the Mourne Wall at this location will bring you back to the Trassey River trail along the Northern base of Slieve Bearnagh. We still had a few hours of daylight so we decided to attempt our original plan and summit Slieve Meelmore.
A full view of Slieve Bearnagh from half way up Slieve Meelmore.
We continued following The Mourne Wall up the bouldery and steep mountain side until we reached the Meelmore tower.
From the tower we continued along the Mourne Wall South West to the summit of Slieve Meelmore.
From the summit we headed down through the boggy mountain side towards the saddle between Slieve Meelmore and Slieve Meelbeg. Here you will find another wooden hop over and the return track towards the Happy Valley car park.
Follow the rolling brook through herds of sheep towards the base of the mountain.
A final look at the Mourne Mountains from the Happy Valley car park.
From here we made the 2km walk along Trassey Rd back to the Trassey Car Park.
The original trail route follows the Northern base of Slieve Meelmore to the origin, but we didn’t have the energy or time to slog through the boggy mountain side and sheep dung and opted for the easier paved option.