This walk follows a popular route leading to the summit of Slieve Donard (850m), Northern Ireland highest mountain. From Newcastle it ascends through the woods along the Glen River and climbs 3km to the head of the river valley, high on the slopes below Slieve Donard ad Slieve Commedagh (765m). From here the path continues to the Saddle (the col between Donard and Commedagh) from which point either summit can be reached.
Distance 9 miles (circular)
OS Map Sheet 29, Mournes Outdoor Pursuits Map (1:25,000)
Terrain Off road unsurfaced paths
Nearest Town Newcastle
Route Shape Linear
Grid Reference J37412 30563
Route Type Mountain, Riverside, Woodland
Begin in Donard Park, walk to the rear of the car park, keeping to the right of the Glen River to enter Donard Wood (300m). Once in the wood the path ascends for 150m until it meets Donard Bridge.
Cross the bridge onto the rivers left side. After 400m arrive a second bridge. Recross the river into its right hand side and continue upstream
After a further 400m a third bridge is reached. Remain on the right bank and continue 150m to a stile marking the beginning of the open mountainside. Follow obvious track above course of the Glen River for 2km.
Perched on the opposite bank of the river is an igloo-like stone structure. This was an ‘ice house’ built by the Annesley Family (former owners of Donard Park) and functioned as a primitive fridge. Below the ice house a tributary joins the Glen River after cascading down a dark rocky cleft (known as the Black Stairs) on the side of the nearby Thomas’s Mountain. .
Cross the river at a narrow point. From here the path climbs more steeply to reach a saddle (and the Mourne Wall) after 500m. This has recently undergone extensive path repair by stone pitching. Please keep to the path.
From the saddle, both Donard and Commedagh can be reached by following the Mourne Wall uphill to either peak.
Slieve Donard dominates the whole of south –east Ulster. On a clear day the view from its summit extends beyond the sweeping arc of Dundrum bay as far as the Mountains of southwest Scotland, northwest England and the Isle of Man and Snowdonia in Wales. The mountain is named after Domangard, a local chieftain who became a disciple of St Patrick and is believed to have built a stone prayer cell on the summit.
Next in stature to Donard, Slieve Commedagh lacks its sister’s peak commanding coastal position, but offers a magnificent view south over the wilderness of the Annalong Valley and a panorama across the entire range of Mourne peaks.
You have now reached the highest point of the walk.
After pausing and enjoying the view, turn and retrace your steps back downhill to Donard 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. 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”
Please remember that much of the land you will cross is private property and access is only available through the goodwill of the landowners. Although some areas of the countryside have been traditionally used for recreation, the public have no general rights to access such land and are only walking with the tolerance of the landowner.
Slieve Donard (N. Ireland’s highest mountain), Glen River, Ice House
Donard Car park lies at the southern end of the town of Newcastle.
Translink – journeyplanner.translink.co.uk
Dogs are allowed. Dogs must be kept on leads
Car park has toilets. There are a range of places to eat and shop in the town of Newcastle.
The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility:
– Disabled parking
– Disabled toilets
- 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.