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The Slieve Binnian Walk: Parking, Trail + Map

The Slieve Binnian Walk: Parking, Trail + Map

The Slieve Binnian walk is hard to beat.

Whether you’re going up, down or around, the scenery surrounding Binnian Mountain in the Mournes is always spectacular!

In the guide below, you’ll find everything from a map and an estimated Slieve Binnian walk time to where to park and more.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Slieve Binnian walk 


Photo via Shutterstock

Before you scroll, it’s worth taking 20 seconds to read the points below as they’ll save you time in the long run!

1. Location

You’ll find the broad summit of Slieve Binnian around 9 km north of the small fishing port of Kilkeel. It’s a 15-minute drive to the Carrick Little Car Park from Kilkeel, and if you’re coming down from Newcastle on the other side of the Mournes it’s closer to a 20-minute drive. 

2. Length

The Slieve Binnian walk time varies depending on pace. This is a long walk, so give yourself the day to take it on and prepare properly. It clocks in at 7 miles or 11.2km and will take around 3-4 hours to complete. 

3. Do it clockwise

If you scroll down to the map below, you’ll see an outline of the Slieve Binnian walk route. We’d recommend that you tackle it in a clockwise direction.

4. Difficulty

As you can probably tell from the length of this walk, some solid levels of fitness will be required to take on the Slieve Binnian walk. It’s a strenuous walk and it gets windy too, so wear all the appropriate gear and boots and don’t forget to bring food, water and a fully charged phone.  

5. Parking

The Slieve Binnian car park is known as the Carrick Little Car Park is the car park you’ll need to find to begin the Slieve Binnian Hike (it’s here on Google Maps). As this is one of the more popular Mourne Mountains walks, it can get busy at the weekends.

About Binnian Mountain

Slieve Binnian

Photos via Shutterstock

Taken from the Irish ‘Sliabh Binneáin’, meaning ‘mountain of the little peaks’, Binnian Mountain is the third-highest mountain in Northern Ireland with a lofty tor-strewn summit of 747 metres (2,451 ft). 

The Mourne Wall crosses Slieve Binnian and what appears to be the remains of an abandoned quarrying village lies on the southeastern slopes of the mountain.

Ruins of rock huts are spread across an uneven landscape littered with part-quarried rock

In 1947 work began on the Binnian Tunnel, a 2.5 tunnel underneath the mountain intended to transport water from the Annalong Valley to the Silent Valley.

It was finally completed in 1951 and took a workforce of 150 men to finish (and it still exists to this day!). 

Related read: Check out our guide to 8 of the handiest Mourne Mountain hotels to use as a base camp

An overview of the Slieve Binnian walk

The start of the Slieve Binnian walk is easy enough, so just follow the clear, stony track that rises gently between the fields for about a mile until you reach a metal gate. This is the entrance to the Annalong Valley.

Cross a stone step stile next to an iron gate and head left to follow the Mourne Wall uphill. 

Up to the summit

From here, it’s actually pretty simple! Just follow the wall up the side of Binnian Mountain for around 45 minutes and eventually, the massive south tor will heave its way into view. 

It gets very rocky up here and you’ll probably have to use your hands in places but there is a path towards the notch in the middle of the outcrop, where you will be rewarded with a gorgeous view of the Silent Valley Reservoir.

On a clear day, it’s even possible to see the Isle of Man out to sea and the Wicklow Mountains beyond Dublin!

Past Ben Crom

Continue right along the ridge of the Mountain, where you’ll cross a broken wall and follow a clear path past the Back Castles.

Follow the path down the hill, while keeping the Ben Crom reservoir to your left and you’ll see the vast mass of Slieve Lamagan ahead of you.

The ground will begin to slope away more steeply as the path meanders past boulders and outcrops of granite towards the prominent col between Slieve Lamagan and Slieve Binnian.

Heading home

At this col, turn right and follow the simple scramble downhill along a long rocky path. Also, keep an eye out for the Blue Lough on your left-hand side! 

Make the scenic stroll back down through the valley towards the forest where the path diverged at the start. It’s then a straightforward walk back to the car park. 

Things to do near Slieve Binnian

One of the beauties of Binnian is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Down.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Binnian (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Many more Mournes walks (5 minutes+ drive)

Mourne Mountains

Photos via Shutterstock

The tallest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland, there are loads of other great rambles to take on in the Mourne Mountains (see our Mourne Walks Guide). From conquering Slieve Donard to the lengthy Mourne Wall Challenge, these walks are packed with gorgeous views and ancient hills. 

2. Silent Valley Reservoir (10-minute drive)

Silent Valley Reservoir

Photos via Shutterstock

Built between 1923 and 1933 by a workforce of over 1,000 men, the Silent Valley Reservoir is a vast body of water next to Slieve Binnian that’s a peaceful spot nestled in amongst the mountains. The Binnian Tunnel is located underneath and was opened in 1952. 

3. Newcastle (20-minute drive)

newcastle down

Photos via Shutterstock

This charming little spot is a fine place to base yourself if you’re planning a weekend in the Mournes! When you’ve exhausted yourself walking, there’s a ton of cracking places here to fill up on fish and chips or to kick back with a creamy pint of plain. And if the weather’s good, definitely grab a calorie-tastic ice cream from Nugelato!

4. Tollymore Forest Park (25-minute drive)

Tollymore Forest Park

Photos via Shutterstock

Another great thing about Newcastle is that the magnificent Tollymore Forest Park is a cracking nearby spot to check out. Just a handy five-minute drive away, the park is right at the base of the Mourne Mountains and is perfect for walking, camping, horse riding and orienteering.

FAQs about Binnian Mountain

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do you park?’ to ‘How tough is it?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Where is the Slieve Binnian car park?

The Slieve Binnian car park, aka the Carrick Little Car Park, is right at the start of the trail up the mountain.

Is Slieve Binnian hard to walk?

This is a strenuous trail in good conditions. When it’s windy and wet under foot, it’s even tougher. Good fitness is required for this trail.

How long does it take to get to the top of Slieve Binnian?

The Slieve Binnian walk time varies depending on pace. Allow between 3-4 hours to complete, but note that times may change depending on your speed and stops.

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