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Silent Valley

An easy family walk in landscaped parkland with spectacular mountain backdrop. There is a restaurant and information close to the dam wall. The walk is steep in places. Walkers can walk another 3 miles up to Ben Crom reservoir and return (another 3 miles) on the same route back to Silent Valley recervoir. A regualr bus service operates in the summer season to Ben Crom.

County

Down

Distance

2 miles

OS Map

Sheet 29

Nearest Town

Kilkeel

Route Shape

Circular

Route Type

Parkland & Grassland

Terrain

Easy well laid paths

Grid Reference (Start)

J306209

Grid Reference (End)

J306209

Point of Interest

Sally Lough, Silent Valley reservoir & dam, Ben Crom

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Mournes

Route Description

The area immediately below the Silent Valley Dam has been landscaped to provide pleasant surroundings with a spectacular mountain backdrop, and a 2 1/2 km circular walk. Walk from the car park towards the dam, taking the higher road leading to the parapet.

The restaurant and information centre are reached by paths leading to the left. At the parapet turn left to cross the width of the dam. Work on the dam began in 1932 and was finished ten years later. It is of earth and rock construction, and captures the waters of the Kilkeel River valley and the Annalong River valley to the east via a 3.6 km tunnel under Slieve Binnian, the rocky, crested mountain to the east (right).

The water in the dam provides much of Belfast with water via a 44 mile pipeline. The height of the dam allows the water to reach Belfast under the power of gravity only. The Mourne Wall surrounds the catchment area for the Silent Valley and Ben Crom dams. It predates the dams having been built between 1904 and 1922, and is a massive structure over 2m in height in most places and with an average width of 1m.

The Sally Lough is a tranquil place with an impressive view. It provides a contrast with the rough heather and grass moor of the upland catchment. These uplands have 'unnatural' man-made vegetation largely controlled by sheep grazing. More small shrubs and trees would otherwise colonise the uplands and the heather moor, currently reducing in area.

The Silent Valley area, the Sally Lough and its banks contain some interesting heath and wetland plants. The walk descends from the Sally Lough through wood-land towards the car park. The Kilkeel River, below the exit from the dam, is crossed by a footbridge.

Getting to the Start

The route begins in the main car park reached through the gates on the Head Road on the south side of the Mournes. The Silent Valley is sign posted for drivers travelling south from Newcastle and north from Kilkeel. The Mourne Rambler bus departs from Newcastle bus depot on a regular basis during the summer months.

Facilities

Toilets and refreshments available during summer months and public holidays at Silent Valley restaurant and information centre or in nearby Kilkeel.

Publication

Newry and Mourne walking guide

Publication Availability

Tel. Newry Tourist Office 028 3031 3170

Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
 
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Ratings and Comments

★★★☆☆
Nicola 7 April, 2015 @ 21:28

Excellent except for toilet cleanliness they were extremely dirty and some totally blocked with bins inside & out substantially overflowing with rubbish....no staff seen anywhere this needs fixed ....the walk was delightful

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