The Mournes are a relatively youthful set of granite mountains, which explains why their comparatively unweathered peaks and flanks are so rugged, forming steep sides, moraines and occasional sheer cliffs. Closer up, these give sharp, jagged outlines; but from a distance they appear much gentler, like a sleeping herd of buffalo. The wilder topography lies mostly in the east, below Newcastle, although the fine cliff of Eagle Mountain (636m), to the southwest, is wonderful if you can afford the time and effort to get there, and the tamer land above Rostrevor has views down into Carlingford Lough that rival any in Ireland.

In summer at least (winters can be surprisingly harsh), there are plenty of straightforward hikes in the Mournes that require no special equipment, with obvious tracks to many of the more scenic parts. There are also, of course, more serious climbs and climbing courses in the Mournes are run by the Tollymore National Outdoor Centre in Bryansford (wwww.tollymore.com), but they must be booked well in advance.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Ireland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Spring equinox at Loughcrew: waking up to Ireland’s secret rock art

Spring equinox at Loughcrew: waking up to Ireland’s secret rock art

The Loughcrew hills near the centre of Ireland are little-known – but at the spring equinox they take on a special magic. On this spring bank holiday, Paul C…

01 May 2017 • Paul Clements local_activity Special feature
6 of the best road trips in the UK

6 of the best road trips in the UK

There is something about a road trip that creates an endless state of heightened excitement. It comes with a heart-in-mouth, funfair-like thrill. And no matter …

11 Apr 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month