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Quality Walk

Slieve Donard (via Glen River)

Slieve Donard at 850m (2,789 ft) is the highest of the Mourne Mtns. The views from the summit are extensive and on a clear day the Isle of Man, Wicklow, Donegal, Wales and Scotland may be seen, as well as the long stretch of Newcastle Beach.




2.9 (one way) miles

OS Map

Sheet 29

Nearest Town


Route Shape


Route Type

Forest, Mountain


Mainly forest and mountain paths

Grid Reference (Start)


Grid Reference (End)


Point of Interest

Views from summit

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


Route Description

Leave the car park in Donard Park heading towards the mountain and follow the Glen River uphill through old woodland of Scots Pine, Oak and Birch. At the first of 3 bridges, cross to the opposite bank.

Continue uphill through the forest, above a deep cut riverbed, for about 400m until another bridge is reached. The riverbank overhangs along this section so extra care is needed.

At this point cross back to the left hand side and resume journey uphill through the trees.

At the next bridge continue across the forest road and onto the rough track heading up towards the mountains, with thick forest on right (fenced), until a gate and stile is reached.

Cross the stile and follow the track above the river for about 2kms, heading towards the saddle between Donard and Commedagh.

At this point, the path crosses the river and continues uphill to the 'Saddle' where it meets the Mourne Wall.

At the Mourne Wall turn left and follow the wall steeply uphill towards the summit.

From the summit return by the same route, staying close to the wall until the Saddle is reached again. The cliffs on the north side of Donard known as Eagle Rocks should be avoided by walkers since the approaches are steep.

Return to Donard Park following the line of the Glen River.

Getting to the Start (by Public Transport)

Translink - journeyplanner.translink.co.uk

Getting to the Start (by Car)

Follow the one way system to the south end of Newcastle main street. Donard Car Park has ample parking.


Dogs are allowed. Dogs must be kept on leads

Accessibility Grade

Grade 5

Accessible Facilities

The following facilities are available for users with limited mobility:

Disabled toilets
Disabled parking


Toilets and parking in Donard Park. Refreshments in Newcastle.



Publication Availability


Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
Image Gallery

Ratings and Comments

Susan McClelland 29 May, 2019 @ 21:28

We're experienced walkers/climbers but found this tough going in places. It's quite steep in many places. took us 5 hours from start to finish. Proper boots are essential. A good path but found it very steep on the descent beside the wall.

Go on a clear day for the fabulous views.

kenrick Duncan 3 February, 2019 @ 16:56

was a very good climb done it twice and it amazes me every time in winter... ask me again an il sure do it again when im over... ben nevis ill do next but Slieve Donard camping on the flats is worht the over night as well, waking up to a frozen lake....

Henry Gilmore 25 September, 2018 @ 14:27

Climbed to the summit for Adopt NI Charity on Sat 22nd Sept, we left car park at 3.45am and reached Slieve Donard peak at 6.55am to see the sunrise which was really special, well worth the effort in the dark and something different, will certainly do it again....

Anne Dungey 29 July, 2018 @ 14:39

Me likewise

have done the 3 on mainland U.K. and Carrauntoohil in S Ireland. Now just need Slieve Donard under my belt to complete my challenge of one a year. Not all in one year !! 75 next year ! Then I can hang up my clogs. Tho maybe Croagh Patrick ?? Not on my knees ...

Alan and Dawn 17 July, 2018 @ 19:07

Climbed Donard from Newcastle today. Tougher than we were expecting (6 hours from car park back to car park) but view from the top was superb. We just need to do Carrauntoohil now and then we have done all the highest mountains in UK and Ireland.

Eamon and Elizabeth 2 June, 2018 @ 19:54

Really enjoyed this walk yesterday but don't understand the quoted distance of 2.9 miles one way

Our gps and fitbit both measured it at 7km

Lovely walk even if it took us 7.5 hours for the round trip and we had planned An easy day

C M 26 March, 2018 @ 22:46

Climbed to the top of Donard yesturday with my boyfriend. Excellent Sunday activity! Everyone we met along the way up and down was so friendly and seemed to be out enjoying life! A real sense of accomplishment when you reach the top with stunning views.

“I have seen landscapes, notably in the Mourne Mountains and southwards which under a particular light made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge.” C.S Lewis

david bingham 4 March, 2018 @ 22:35

Climbed up to the wall today in the snow, absolutely beautiful even though you couldnt see anything. wind is quite strong and chilly when in the open near the top and the snow was quite deep. didnt make it all the way to the summit due to the weather.

Deirdre Kennedy 18 February, 2018 @ 20:32

Climbed up Sliabh Donard along the Glen River yesterday. It was a stunning day, very cold but plenty of sun and clear sky. Lots of activity on the way as there was a race in progress, runners and walkers in abundance of all ages. Half way to the saddle between Donard and Comedagh we heard the whirring of helicopters. As we climbed up we noticed granite boulders were being airlifted from further afield to repair the Mourne Wall going up Donard. It was so ezciting at the saddle, lots of snow and ice and the place resembled a ski resort. It was quite tough on the steps with the black ice in spots. Great views from the summit and we returned by the Bloody Bridge. Thanks to the kind gent who allowed us to share his taxi back to Newcastle where we had coffee and cake in a fab new café. Then back to SOAK for a seaweed bath and massage. Can't wait to visit the Magical Kingdom of Mourne again. It is my favourite part of Ireland.

Shane Fitzpatrick 9 January, 2018 @ 17:41

i have climbed Donard twice and thoroughly enjoyed it on both occasions. I am over 50 and not particularly fit but managed to do it. it gets quite tough towards the end but the view is well worth it when on top.

its an absolute must do for anyone living in Ireland.

John Cowan 12 October, 2017 @ 21:02

Last Sunday I climbed Slieve Donard in aid of the Henry Surtees Foundation.

The climb was the 4th of the 5 peaks challenge and there are a few things to point out to other doing the climb.

Firstly if climbing from Donard County Park the section between 2nd and 3rd Bridge can be very slippery.

Proper walking boots are total must and walking poles will help a lot.

One section prior also is very steep.

In terms of hardness I would rate Slieve Donard slightly above Scarfell Pike but not as hard Ben Nevis.

It a very technical climb in places.

Also the most of the other people you will find climbing are amazingly friendly.

John 11 October, 2017 @ 16:03

Climbing Donard on 21st Oct for first time.

I'm a 53 year young man and my wife is better not say young lady and friends we hope to enjoy this climb looking at reviews we should???

Wilson 22 August, 2017 @ 21:23

Must be at least 40 years since I last climbed Slieve Donard and wondered if my 65 year old and unfit legs would get me to the top. Thankfully I made it for the charity I supported on the day and will make another climb again soon. The views at summit are breathtaking and I overheard a few Americans saying they had never seen anything like it.

David Johnston 21 August, 2017 @ 20:21

My brother and I did this walk on 19th August 2017. It had been on my 'bucket list' of things to do for some time. After a lovely cooked breakfast in Newcastle we set off from Donard Park around 10am. We took it easy (with many short breaks - rest, water and snacks) and enjoyed the scenery on route (especially loved walking past the Ice House, and the views up at the saddle). Eventually reached the summit around 2pm. It was tough going but I said, at each stop along the way, that I'd never forgive myself if I turned back and didn't reach the summit (this was my brother's fourth walk to the summit, but my first). I must say, honestly, having reached the top it was a fantastic feeling. Views were (even on a relatively cloudy day) breathtaking. The descent was easier than the climb, but you still have to watch your footing. We made it back down to Donard Park around 5pm. It was a fantastic day hike, and I'm now planning our next outing...

Josep 21 August, 2017 @ 13:46

Amazing hike, great views and big thanks for the website. Came from Dublin and had a great time.

Shauna McDonald 10 July, 2017 @ 20:05

Loved this climb but very tough, views are amazing. We had a brilliant day very clear and not too hot. Definelty would start early and wear proper gear. Lovely place ????

Lydia 3 June, 2017 @ 01:15

We started from the Donard car park and headed towards the forest. Great landscape throughout the walk. Best part for me was when the forest ended and we were greeted by a mountainous view, my first time seeing such a view. Got to admit that the last part of the walk was tough because of the steep climb up to the peak along the Mourne wall. But the view was oh so worth it!! So happy I got through it.

Lindsey 21 March, 2017 @ 19:36

Started at Donard car park. It's a good climb right from the start. You follow the river which is lovely and view from the ice house down to Newcastle is lovely. The hardest bit for me was half way but keep going don't sit down. Once u get over the saddle you'll see the last climb up to top. That's when the cloud and wind set in. But so worth it at the top. We has tea and a sandwich then started to come down. We took more time to take pictures and stop off at ice house. We reached the top in 2 1/2 hours . Not bad for my first time. Wear proper walking boots. And the weather can is change able.

alessandra 1 February, 2017 @ 12:18

Hi my name is Alessandra i m 35 years, i live in Belfast, i m interested doing this walk i m by my self but my friend told me that it s better to do the walk with someone else. is there anyone available for the next Sunday. Thanks

WalkNI 26 August, 2016 @ 09:28

Hi Una,

Due to sheep grazing on the land dogs must be kept on leads.

Una 25 August, 2016 @ 21:15

Are dogs allowed off lead on this walk?

WalkNI 4 May, 2016 @ 15:34

Good luck with the challenge Michael!

Michael Jamison 1 May, 2016 @ 23:21

I'll be trekking Donard on the 7th of May , 12 times . That is once from Donard car park to the summit, back down to the saddle and back up 11 times . It works out just under 14, 000 ft up and 14,000ft down .

Grace Ingram 3 April, 2016 @ 18:38

A tough climb but I managed it. It was completed in a group. (The youngest in our group of eight was a 6 year old boy) and it was a great experience. The view from the summit was spectacular I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't done it before.

John Thorp 13 March, 2016 @ 23:27

Managed to get to the top of Slieve Donard today. Still some snow against the wall.loads of couples climbing which was nice to see. It is also such a really quite place when the large groups have disappeared. Went from bloody bridge, first time so I do not know the Newcastle car park route. I decided against fell running it and it took me 7.20 11.10kms. my pace trebles backwards once I hit a hill. The view at the top was amazing, the sea was flat calm, Dublin, the sugar loaf, Scotland, isle of Man and Belfast and all the surrounding mountains visible. Although there are boggy areas, I do not know if boots which pull the legs off you are better than a decent pair of trainers, runners or gutties depending where you are from

John Hancock 7 December, 2015 @ 01:04

Did this walk Sun 6th Dec 2015. I chose the track running alongside the river to get up and down. Tiring and sore on feet but worth it as it has been at least 35 years since I went up Donard. Fantastic views and weather was good considering the storm the day before.

Ian McAllister 2 October, 2015 @ 00:53

Climbed Donard today -glorious for 1st October! Cloudy and misty when we reached the top - but cleared after 10 minutes or so and we could see west across the peaks past Bearneagh towards Gruggandoo. A tough walk and the descent is hard on the knees but worth it for the extensive views.

Maureen okeeffe 28 September, 2015 @ 12:39

Great day walking first time on slieve donard

will be back

fab fab

Grace 15 August, 2015 @ 21:31

Free parking with WC at Bloody Bridge a bonus. Very straightforward route with glorious views. A little boggy in parts but delightfully worth the effort

Stephen Penders 22 July, 2015 @ 19:13

My first ever proper hill/mountain walk, and my 47 year old knees are showing their age. The forest stage at the start is tougher than you would imagine, the next section is fine, the hike to the saddle isn't easy and the final ascent along the wall required a good few short breaks. That being said, it was a wonderful experience filled with fabulous views and friendly hikers. I had hoped for a bit of cloud to move in as I reached the summit and the weather didn't let me down. It went from clear skies to a downpour and 20m visibility in a heartbeat. Very glad to have decent waterproof clothing in the rucksack. All in all a great day. I will be back.

keith whyte 14 July, 2015 @ 16:05

Walked this 20 years ago and I have planed a trip july 2015 I can't wait to see the difference 20 years makes

Brenda C 9 February, 2015 @ 23:07

Couldn't have asked for a better day to go up Donard on Sunday 8 February. Lovely blue skies overhead and hardly any wind. There was an icy bit on the stones halfway up, but nothing we couldn't handle. Some fantastic views when we reached the top. I couldn't believe how many people were there - clearly it's a lot busier than the Scottish hills I'm used to!

M 4 30 January, 2015 @ 21:45

This thing kicked my butt today. Was here on business and had good hiking boots but no gloves, hat or poles. The walk up to the saddle was easy but with the snow and wind the saddle took on an extra challenge but well worth the view. I wanted to make it all the way so even though others were turning back or telling me it was very icey, I continued. Made it the whole way but it wasn't very wise. White out, windy and by myself. Could have turned out bad. Beautiful mountain though. Weather made it worse than it should have been.

David 8 January, 2015 @ 14:11

Climbed up Donard yesterday from the Bloody Bridge, extremely tough weather with the heavy wind and rain but made for a good challenge, it was a good reminder that being well prepared and taking proper equipment is essential when climbing on days like that. Great climb!

Ian Montgomery 30 December, 2014 @ 19:05

Lovely climb up Donard today from Bloody Bridge. Quite a few people out enjoying the crisp winter sunshine. Snow from the Mourne wall to the summit but that only added to the beautiful scenery. Quite surprised to see how poorly some people were equipped, trainers or even wellingtons!

Pierce 5 March, 2014 @ 21:18

climbed form Tullymore side up the Donard and onto Newcastle ,,enjoy every moment and great views and trail walks were good to walk on , fetl safe all the way thys

David Mack 26 December, 2013 @ 17:21

Climbed Donard today - snowy, icy, bright golden light. A beautiful festive sight for Boxing day.

Fell-ran it as much as possible, challenged by the ice, snow and gravity. 50 mins up, 55 mins down (some bouldering as the path was too icy)

Fiona 14 October, 2013 @ 10:16

Just did the walk yesterday. Really beautiful and varied - river and forest walk, open plain stroll, steep rocks and clambering summit.

Warm at the bottom but needed gloves and scarf at the top.

Took a total of 4 hours (going at a decent speed) from Donard Park to the top and back. The last hour to the summit is quite tough going but we all made it.

Right now on to Croagh Patrick...

Jim & Anne 27 April, 2013 @ 20:09

Climbed Donard today this is our 3rd or 4th time over the years lovely sunny day with lots of wonderful views. Their were lots of young people walking today lovely to see and all very friendly.

This is our 1st of the 5 highest peaks in UK & Ireland we are going to clomb this year. Not bad for two pensioners!!

fiona campbell 13 January, 2013 @ 19:18

lovey walk. i did it with a group of friends in november, busy walk though which is nice as lots of encouragement ner the steep summit.

maura 22 September, 2011 @ 13:38

I have climbed Slieve Donard a number of times but none have given me as much pleasure as the beautiful sunny day in April 2011. My three-year old granddaughter Teagan, and her sister Ciara, aged nine led the way. Myself and my son had only planned to take the girls to the second bridge to collect more tadpoles. It was three year old Teagan who decided we were going to the top of Donard. Aaron her brother had conquered it along with his cousins when he was nine. I'm very proud of all the kids that have accompanied me to the top. Please forgive my boasting but I'm so proud of Teagan for completing such a climb aged only three. Hopefully it will inspire others.

Sam Young 26 September, 2010 @ 15:34

An excellent walk, got quite busy coming back down (it was a good Sunday morning).

Julie Fieldman 20 June, 2010 @ 15:08

Have walked this once before but went up and over the top to Bloody Bridge and back to Newcastle along the road which all took a VERY long time! Views are immense and worth the climb!! Can anyone give me a rough estimate on how long it should take to get to the top as I want to do it again but would like to set myself a target? Thank you.

helen o neill 25 April, 2010 @ 23:14

reall enjoyed slieve donard walk,lucky we had a guide with us on our group,i just thought there should have been some colour coded sinage along the way

David McLoughlin 3 June, 2009 @ 12:50

Did this very nice walk on Sunday. Beautiful weather and great scenery. However it's a real pity that there is so much rubbish along the route. Surely something could be done to encourage the walkers to take their rubbish home - a few signs advising walkers of this would be very useful.

Connor Hodges 23 January, 2009 @ 13:04

Yes you can bring dogs but there are a lot of sheep around so if your dog likes chasing sheep you maybe should think again.

John Torrans 20 October, 2008 @ 23:07

can you bring dogs with you on this route.

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