This walk located at Slieve Croob, in the heart of Down, is a longer version of the Slieve Croob/'Twelve Cairns' Transmitter Road walk. It takes in the transmitter road and a permissive track on the other side of the mountain (marked by waymarkers) which joins a farm lane and also includes lengthy on road sections. It is a walk for a clear day when the panoramic views over the surrounding countryside can be enjoyed and which will allow the mountain path to be followed easily.
Finnis a.k.a. Massford/Dromara
Road, farm lane and hill
Great viewpoint - source of the River Lagan
Finnis/Massford is a hamlet on the River Lagan nestling at the foot of Slieve Croob, approx. 2 miles south of Dromara on the B7. Park with due care and consideration on road in the hamlet. The infant River Lagan passes under the bridge here. Walk along the Dree Hill Road, past the Massford Close Development before turning L into the Drin Road. Continue along this road for approx. 1 mile and look out for a concrete lane on R marked 'Pass Loaning' - there is a bungalow just opposite the entrance to the lane.
Turn into this concrete lane and follow to its end at a stile leading onto Slieve Croob. Look ahead to see the waymark posts which indicate the route, these may not be visible in mist or fog and it is easy to become lost in poor visibility - only do the route in clear weather. There is a steep climb along the remains of an old path but once the 2nd stile has been reached, at the fence line, the land levels off. Keep looking ahead to spot the waymark posts and orientate yourself and follow these to reach the transmitter road.
On reaching the transmitter road, turn left to reach the summit of the mountain. Follow the transmitter road to its end and look on the mountain to see stiles leading to triangulation point.
Slieve Croob or in Irish, Sliabh Crúb - the mountain of the hoof - rises to a height of 534 metres (1755) feet and is the source of the River Lagan. Locally the mountain is known as 'The Twelve Cairns'. Though the beauty of the mountain is marred by the transmitter masts and compounds near the summit the walk, on a clear day, offers lovely views over the surrounding countryside and further afield.
It is said "... on a clear day you could see with the naked eye Lough Neagh, Belfast Lough, Carlingford Lough, Scarbo Tower, the full range of the Mourne Mountains, the coastline from Warrenpoint to County Antrim, and if you knew where to look you could pick out Armagh Cathederal."
Little remains of the once massive ancient cairn which marked the summit of the mountain. This was the focus of the annual 'Blaeberry Sunday' or 'Cairn Sunday' walk which took took place each year when people from all sides of the mountain used to converge on the top on the last Sunday in July or first in August for an afternoon gathering of music, fun and catching up. This tradition continued until the 1950's. In recent years there has been a revival in the form of annual walk organised by the local communities to the top of the mountain.
Retrace steps back along the transmitter road - you will see the River Lagan cutting its way down the mountain. Keeping to the path head towards the Dree Hill Car Park. At the car park turn R and follow the Dree Hill Road downhill, back to the starting point.
The sculpture at the Dree Hill car park is a public art piece created by local artist Christ Wilson entitled 'Source of the River Lagan'. It consists of slabs of Mourne granite sandwiched together with a window to view the landscape and etched plates representing local heritage in the form of the nearby Legananny Dolmen and the continuation of ancient traditions in the form of the Blaeberry/Cairn Sunday walk.
Public transport in the area is poor and irregular with limited routes.
Park with due consideration on road at the hamlet of Finnis/Massford - approx. 2 miles south of Dromara on the B7 Rathfriland to Dromara Road.
Dogs are not allowed. No dogs allowed on the Slieve Croob Transmitter Road or surrounding land due to sheep grazing.
Turnip House - Teashop and Crafts
64 Dromara Road, Ballyward, Castlewellan, Co. Down, BT31 9UF.
t: 028 4065 0848
Pub in hamlet of Finnis/Massford (limited opening). Garage and shop along B7 to south of Finnis/Masford. Shops, petrol pumps, pubs, takeaways and restaurants in Dromara.
Turleys Bar and Restaurant is on the B7 to the south at Lowtown (limited opening).
Surrounding Area Attractions:
Photos of souterrian and Legananny Dolmen are included in the gallery - are not on walk route. For directions see link below - also map in downloads section to right.
Finnis Souterrain, Carrigagh Road (near Finnis/Massford) - hidden gem - scheduled historic monument opened to the public by Banbridge District Council in 2003. Underground structure dating from c. 9th century - lit by solar lighting. Narrow space - requires bending and stooping to enter. Normally open at all times but prone to flooding after periods of heavy rain so may not always be accessible.
Legananny Dolmen - state care monument - one of the most photographed dolmens in Ireland, located off Dolmen Road. 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Dromara & 5 miles (8 km) n.w. of Castlewellan - tripod portal tomb - has been standing here for around 4000 years.
Slieve Croob Walks
Free from Countryside Officer at Banbridge District Council t. 028 4066 0617
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