Day 24 (Down and Louth) – A hike up Northern Ireland’s highest peak, one of my favourite drives, and a night in Carlingford
We’re approaching the tail end of our Ireland road trip.
Day 24 will involve a longish hike up the highest peak in Northern Ireland, before taking a spin to Carlingford in Louth for the evening.
Get up early and hit the road. We’ll be rewarding an active day with a flurry of pints and food later in the day.
1 – Slieve Donard
// Belfast to Slieve Donard – 1-hour drive (arrive for 09:00) //
Our first stop of the day takes us on a hike up the highest peak in Northern Ireland.
Slieve Donard in County Down stands at an impressive 850m, towering above the areas much loved Mourne Mountains.
From the top, you’ll be treated to an unbeatable view of the Mourne Mountains, which stretch out all around you.
On a clear day you’ll also be able to spot the Isle of Man, the Wicklow Mountains and the peaks of Wales, Scotland and Donegal.
2 – A post-hike feed
// Slieve Donard to Villa Vinci in Newcastle – 10-minute drive (arrive for 14:00) //
You’ll be pretty hungry after that lengthy climb up Slieve Donard.
Head to Villa Vinci in Newcastle (the reviews are unreal) for a big aul feed and chill for a while.
We won’t be doing anything overly active for the rest of the day.
3 – Slieve Gullion Forest Park (Armagh)
// Villa Vinci to Slieve Gullion – 50-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //
One of my favourite drives in Ireland is in Slieve Gullion Forest Park.
The views that you’ll be treated to as you make your way through the forest and up to higher ground are just out of this world.
On a clear day, you’ll see patchwork-like green fields for as far as the eye can see.
There several different spots where you can hop out of the car and go rambling here.
4 – Carlingford for a ramble by the Marina, chips and a well-earned drink
// Slieve Guillion to Carlingford – 25-minute drive (arrive for 18:30) //
When you arrive to Carlingford, drop off the car at where you’re staying (advice on accommodation below) and head down to the marina.
Have a little stroll here and then head into the town for a bite to eat.
The Anchor Bar (AKA P.Js) does a cracking bit of food.
When you’ve finished up, and if you’re feeling up to it, have a float around some of the town’s pubs.
Carlingford is a gorgeous little town.
At the weekends, it can be a little mental with hen and stag parties, but midweek (and even on a Friday, if my last visit is anything to go by) it’s far more relaxed.
5 – A bed for the night
I’d recommend staying at the Oystercatcher Lodge as it’s nice and central and reasonably priced.
There’s plenty of accommodation in the area.
Just note that if you’re visiting on a Saturday night and staying outside of the town, you’ll find it near impossible to get a taxi.
Monday 13th of March 2023
Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you
Thursday 9th of March 2023
the link to the mailing list sign up isnt working...can I have you send me the document by email? it sounds amazing through quick page hopping! thought this morning that we might go this late Sept/early October for 3ish weeks.
Monday 6th of March 2023
Hi Keith, we’re looking at visiting Ireland September 2023, for four weeks, coming from Canada. Thankfully I found your guide, it is fantastic, you put in a great deal of work organizing this. Thank you. I have a couple tours books to cipher through as well, but it is painstaking slow. I need to get an itinerary put together fast, I see accommodations are filling up quickly for September. One question I have is, is it possible or wise to do your road trip in reverse? We’re not used to driving on the left side, haha, will it be safer doing the trip in reverse?
Saturday 18th of February 2023
Do you have a PDF of the whole list that we could buy/download with links? We were planning to do the reverse of this in October 2023 (34 days)---but, rethinking after seeing yours!
Wednesday 18th of January 2023
This itinerary will be the basis of our upcoming trip this year. We prefer to base ourselves in a place for maybe a week and explore the surrounding areas. We will be picking up a car in Belfast on 26 May and have it for almost 6 weeks. We are unsure of our direction of travel, but leaning towards anti-clockwise. Excluding Dublin, can you suggest 5 or 6 "bases" for exploration. Small towns with a bit of character ideally.
Keep up the good work.