Donard to Silent Valley Walk
The Donard to Silent Valley Walk is an exceptional point-to-point trail that will take you across the rugged landscape of the Mourne Mountains. While out on the trail, you will climb uphill across the summit of Slieve Donard - Northern Ireland’s highest peak - before traversing the undulating landscaper alongside the Ben Crom and Silent Valley reservoirs. Keep in mind that this is a one-way trail, meaning that you will need to either arrange a pick up at the end of the walk, utilize transit, or walk the entire length of the trail for the return leg of the journey.
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Route Description for Donard to Silent Valley Walk
The Donard to Silent Valley Walk is a fairly rugged journey through the Mourne Mountains that will see you gain a large amount of elevation as you climb up Slieve Donard, the highest point in Northern Ireland. As much of the trail passes through the exposed terrain of the mountains, you will definitely want to bring a water/windproof layer to protect yourself from the elements. Additionally, sturdy walking boots with great support are a must, and a GPS will come in handy during portions of the walk that are tricky to navigate. This is also a point-to-point trail, so be sure to plan out your travel arrangements for the end of your walk, or else you will need to walk the entire distance back!
Considering the mountainous terrain that you will be passing through, this walk isn’t overly challenging or difficult, and will produce some exceptional views across the surrounding landscape. After reaching the summit of Slieve Donard, you will have a commanding sightline over the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea, before heading downhill to walk past the Ben Crom and Silent Valley reservoirs. This is a great route if you are after a fun mountain adventure.
Setting out from the trailhead, you will make your way south along Ballagh Road for 0.8 km and turn right onto the footpath that runs along the Bloody Bridge River. Following this path for the next 3.7 km, you will climb up the hillside and use the banks of the river as your guide, until you arrive at a four-way intersection in the trail. Taking the path on the right, you will begin the steep climb up the slopes of Slieve Donard, at the top of which you will receive some absolutely breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, the Irish Sea, and several reservoirs in the valley below.
From the summit of the mountain, you will head to the northwest and make your descent along the path, turning left at a junction in 0.9 km. Keeping right for the next over the next 2.0 km, you will traverse the undulating terrain of the mountains and have some views of surrounding peaks, such as Slieve Beg, Slieve Corragh, and Slieve Bearnagh.
Arriving at a junction, follow the path on the left and follow it for the next 1.6 km, where you will come to another junction at the edge of the Ben Crom Reservoir. Take the path on the left and continue on along the water’s edge for 2.2 km, taking in the views of the reservoir and surrounding mountains. After arriving at the dam wall, continue down the steps to the southwest to arrive at an access road.
Follow this access road to the south for the next 4.1 km, as you walk along the shores of the Silent Valley Reservoir and enjoy some more views of the mountains. Here, you will arrive at the dam wall for this reservoir and continue south along the road through some woodland terrain. After 1.6 km, you will arrive at the endpoint of the Donard to Silent Valley Walk, where you can either wait for your ride to come pick you up or take transit from the Silent Valley bus stop.
Slieve Donard is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and, standing at 850 m, is the 7th tallest peak on the entire island. The mountain is located along the northeastern edge of the Mourne Mountains and overlooks the Irish Sea. The name of the peak is derived from Saint Donard, who had supposedly climbed the mountain in order to make the summit his hermitage.
Silent Valley Reservoir
Constructed by a workforce of over 1000 men between 1923 and 1933, the Silent Valley Reservoir was built to gather water from the Mourne Mountains in order to supply a large part of Belfast and County Down with drinking water. The reservoir can be found southwest of Belfast, within the Mourne & Slieve Croob AONB.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a trail leading up Slieve Donard?
Yes, there is a stone path that will lead you up to the summit of Slieve Donard.
Which is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland?
Slieve Donard is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and the 7th tallest in all of Ireland, standing at 850m above sea level.
Insider Hints for Donard to Silent Valley Walk
- Make sure to wear proper walking boots with great ankle support for this rugged adventure.
- Walking poles will come in handy for this journey, providing stability and reducing stress on your knees.
- Make sure to bring a rain jacket/windbreaker, as much of this route passes through exposed terrain.
- This is a one-way trail, so be sure to plan a pick up for the end of your walk, unless you want to cover the entire distance on the return.
Getting to the Donard to Silent Valley Walk Trailhead
The trailhead for the Donard to Silent Valley Walk can be found at the Maggies Leap bus stop on Ballagh Road/A2.
Donard to Silent Valley Walk Elevation Graph
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