This fantastic circular walking route follows the Mourne Wall to the summit of Slieve Binnian (747m), traverses between the spectacular South and North Tors before descending along a track past the Blue Lough, Annalong Forest and back to the car park.
Distance 6.1 miles
OS Map Sheet 29 + Mourne Outdoor Pursuits Map (1:25,000)
Terrain Tracks and mountain terrain
Nearest Town Annalong Village
Route Shape Circular
Grid Reference J345219
Route Type Hill, Mountain
From the Carrick Little car park, follow a clear, stony track that rises gently between the fields. Note the boulder walls alongside, and the high mountains around the distant head of Annalong Valley. Cross a stone step stile beside an iron gate and turn left to follow the Mourne Wall uphill.
The wall rises steeply on the rugged slopes of Slieve Binnian, but it is an obvious line to follow almost all the way to the summit. There is a break when the wall runs into a bare face of granite, and before this point you should drift to the right and aim for a notch in the top of the mountain. Going all the way to the summit at 2449ft (747m) involves using your hands and taking care on the rock.
The reward is an exceedingly fine panorama of the surrounding mountain. In clear weather it’s possible to see the Isle of Man out to sea and the Wicklow Mountains beyond Dublin. Pick your way carefully around the base of the Summit Tor and continue walking along the ridge of the Mountain. You cross a broken wall and follow a clear path past the Back Castles.
These are a handful of wrinkly little tors that you don’t have to grapple with. Simply enjoy the views as you walk past them. The North Tor is a monstrous outcrop of granite towards the end of the crest, and the path passes it on the left side. The ground slopes away more steeply as the path wanders through the heather, past boulders and outcrops of granite on the way down to a prominent gap – the col between Slieve Lamagan and Slieve Binnian.
At the col turn right and follow a clear path downhill. This passes close to the Blue Lough and by keeping right at junctions with other paths, you’ll be led down to a clear track passing a corner of Annalong Wood. Simply follow the track alongside the Forest fence and return to the iron gate in the Mourne Wall. Cross the wall using the stile and follow the track back to Carrick Little car park.
Please be aware – although, there are numerous walking routes in the Mournes, the majority of these popular walks are not formally designated public rights of way. Most routes have developed over time due to traditional use. Below 600 feet (180m) most land is privately owned and is farmed or grazed. Many of the traditional access routes cross this land or pass along farm lanes and quarry tracks. Access is only available therefore through the tolerance and goodwill of the landowners. Walkers are advised to respect that they may be walking on private land and are encouraged to make themselves aware of and adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace’ – www.leavenotraceireland.org
Blue Lough and Mourne Wall
The Carrick Little car park is at the junction of the Head Road and Oldtown Road near Annalong. The Mourne Rambler bus departs from Newcastle Bus station on a regular basis during the summer months (see link below).
Dogs must be kept on leads
Toilets and refreshments available in nearby Annalong Village.
- There may not be a formalised path, and variable, single file trails are to be expected.
- Gradients and cross slope could be expected to be steep and not limited.
- Obstacles and surface breaks of greater than 75mm measured across the line of the path to be expected.
- Overhanging branches are possible. Passing places and rest areas may not be formalised or provided.
Comments will be reviewed and those that cause offence will be removed. This is at the discretion of WalkNI.
We want everyone to be able to enjoy the walking routes listed on WalkNI safely and easily.
If you have come across any problems whilst walking a route, please let us so we can pass on any issues to the appropriate management body responsible for maintaining the walk.
Fantastic walk. Travelled as recommended. summit and North Tors well worth spending some time at – views are fantastic. We had an unbelievable days, blue skies with the odd cloud driving past. Great view of Ben From reservoir from elevated platform about 250m prior to col with Slieve Lamagan. Walked with my wife for whom it was first time in the Mournes at a leisurely pace, spent 3 hours moving with a break for lunch. Carrick Little Cottage Cafe is highly recommended. Great tea and apple pie.
A walk that rewarded perseverance. We climbed up Binnian in thickening mist and soft rain, thought to avoid the scramble onto the summit tor given poor visibility so skirted around the base. And then the clouds shifted and we got the views, fantastic and a lovely walk beyond. Yes the rubble path from Blue Loch back to the car park is a pain, but if it helps tackle the erosion then worth it. And in August the heather and grasses were just vibrant and gorgeous.
Monday, 2nd July 2018. This is my favourite walk in the Mournes and it matters not whether it is tackled clockwise or anti-clockwise. It can be done with great pleasure either way and perhaps should be treated as two walks of equal quality. There are several factors to write home about. Firstly the terrain. This is all relatively easy with the exception being the recently laid stony rubble on the major part of the track up to and after the Blue Lough. It is not the hardest walk in the Mournes. Secondly the views. July with heat haze is not the best long visibility to the Isle of Man, down to Howth Head or across to Camlough, Gullion, Monaghan and Armagh beyond. Those views need crisp and sunny winter conditions when they are quite spectacular. In summer, this week, with hot temperatures and cloudless skys the wonderful view is of the whole of the Mourne horseshoe itself. Binnian is the perfect vantage point because it is the most southerly point of the amphitheatre which means that with the sun behind you every feature of the whole vista is bathed in glorious light. Whether it is the deep blue of the Silent Valley and Ben Crom reservoirs, the Blue Lough below or Loughshannagh across to the west, the majesty of the Binnian Tors and the rough granite terrain of Slieve Lamagan beyond or the more benign but tortuously steep grassy slopes of Donald as the vista stop, this is where you want to be to to have someone show you the walking in the high Mournes rather than just have them explained with a map. Binnian is not merely a rough hewn rock to view in its own right, it is first and foremost the perch from which to observe everything else worth seeing from 750 metres across a radius of thirty miles. Wonderful.