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Quality Walk

Bearnagh and Meelmore

Slieve Bearnagh (739m) is one of the most distinctive mountains in the Mournes and is renowned for the granite tors on its summit.

Slieve Meelmore (704m) is also included in this walk, creating a circuit with superb views on a good day stretching as far as the Sperrins, Lough Neagh and Strangford Lough.

With the Mourne Wall to use as a handrail on the higher parts of the mountain, navigation is relatively straight forward and the only compass work needed in bad weather is for the descent off Slieve Meelmore.




6 miles

OS Map

Sheet 29

Nearest Town


Route Shape


Route Type



Rugged paths, open mountain

Grid Reference (Start)


Grid Reference (End)


Point of Interest

Views from both summits

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


Route Description

From the car park, turn left onto Trassey Road and look straight ahead where you will see the start of Trassey Track. Go through the double gates or use the stone stile. Be careful not to go down the ungated track on the left immediately before this, as it leads into Tollymore Forest. A sign for the Trassey Track and markers for the Mourne Way indicate you are on the right trail.

The track climbs gently beside Clonachullion Wood, becoming rougher underfoot as you progress. Two further double gates with 'kissing gates' are passed through before you enter the wild terrain of the Mournes themselves. A stone wall can now be seen extending west around the base of Slieve Meelmore. Continue up Trassey Track which winds through a couple of gentle switchbacks before climbing under Spellack's crags and flattening out as you reach the head of the valley. Slieve Bearnagh looms large at the head of the valley on the right hand side and the track soon forks as paths veer left and right around its flanks. Keep left and begin to climb, crossing rougher terrain underfoot. This section ends at the col known as Hare's Gap which is bisected by the Mourne Wall. Climb over the stile, turn right and follow the wall. The climb up Bearnagh is steep and continous and begins with a set of stone steps.

The slopes soon steepen again and do not relent until you arrive at the rock outcrops of the North Tor.

Continue to follow the Mourne Wall across the shallow col separating Bearnagh's twin tops. A short climb now leads to the huge summit Tor.

Follow the wall down from the top of Bearnagh to the col beneath Slieve Meelmore. The climb to the top of Slieve Meelmore is steady for around 500m, all the way to the angular stone shelter that adorns the summit. When you start up the wall from the col - keep to the wall furthest to the right.

After reaching the summit of Slieve Meelmore follow the Mourne Wall down to reach the wall intersection and follow the right hand wall descending into the valley until you meet another wall (marking the field boundary). Turn right and follow this path to the Trassey Track, then turn left and retrace your steps back to the start.

Getting to the Start (by Public Transport)

Translink - journeyplanner.translink.co.uk

Getting to the Start (by Car)

The circuit starts and finishes at the Trassey Track car park, situated just off the B180 Newcastle-Hilltown Road. About 4km after Bryansford take Trassey Road on the left. TheTrassey Car Park is 1.5km along this road on the left. There is also private (but secure) parking at Meelmore Lodge hostel and campsite 400m further along Trassey Road (J306307). There is direct access to the hills from here and it actually makes for a slightly shorter circuit.


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:

Café (wheelchair accessible)
Disabled toilets


Car Parking in Trassey car park - free

Meelmore Lodge - secure car park (charge), coffee shop, toilets & showers, camping and hostel.

Refreshments & knitwear at Turnip House (approx. 600 yards along path to Tollymore Forest from start).



Publication Availability


Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
Image Gallery
Maps and Downloads

Ratings and Comments

Ada Burns 4 August, 2019 @ 16:52

Really enjoyed this walk. With a good break for lunch took just under five hours. Parked at Meelmore Lodge, free but encouraged (no hardship) to enjoy refreshments in the cafe. Granite summit of Bearnagh not for those with vertigo! And path down needs care as it’s heavily eroded. But a walk of great views and great variety and in August, wonderful blooming heather.

Barna 11 July, 2016 @ 00:30

Slieve Bearnagh is one of the most beautiful place in the Mournes! Don't miss it!

I did this hiking alone on a sunny day in June 2016.

Unfotunatley I followed the path clockwise and I found the way down from Slieve Bearnagh pretty dangerous. At some point the mourne wall disappears ( = no help in descending) and I found myself in a risky situation.

Therefore I advise you to do this trip antli-clockwise (just as the description tells you).

The view from the summit worth every steps!

Philip Blair 20 December, 2012 @ 17:29

Myself and my brother did this walk on 16th September after he had did it previously on his own (see below). We did the walk as suggested up the Trassey track to the Hares Gap, then up to the summit of Bearnagh and on to the summit of Meelmore but from there we went on to climb Slieve Meelbeg too, then headed north and followed the Ben Crom river before rounding the bottom of Ben Crom mountain and down onto Ben Crom dam. We then walked the east side of Ben Crom reservoir and from there followed the river back to Hares Gap and back down the Trassey track to the car. Tough but excellent day out.

Andy Blair 28 August, 2012 @ 21:14

Walked this route today and the weather was lovely if not bit windy at summits. Left Trassey car park at 6.45am (wife and two toddlers at home, times a premium), enjoyed the track up to Hare's Gap and the sun rising from behind Commedagh when I reached the col. It's a steep climb then to the summit which is rewarded with massive Tors at the top and views of inner mournes. Getting down to the col as harder than getting to the top as the shear drop down and past the Bearnagh Slabs was a tough scramble down. Getting to the top of Slieve Meelmore was straight forward and once again the views were amazing and looking across at the side of Bearnagh confirmed how steep it was. Form the top of Meelmore i took wrong route down and made it a lot harder than necessary as I just headed straight for the sheep pens rather than following the Mourne wall round to meet the wall down to the Ulster way. All in all a very rewarding morning.

Claire and Mark 25 March, 2012 @ 10:45

This walk has breathtaking views from the top of Bearnagh out to Spelga dam,down into Kilkeel and out across Newcastle into the deep blue sea.Not for the faint hearted though as the descent off Bearnagh and up Meelmore can be a little tricky and rather steep and worthwhile allowing extra time for this.We stopped twice for coffee and lunch and all in all took us 6 hours to get back to the car park.A must for those seeking beautiful scenery and a good leg workout although even though the sun was on our faces the whole day it snowed for 15 mins on top of Melmore so would highly recommend appropriate clothing in case the weather changes.Our wee doggie loved it too :)

Georgina Milne 14 August, 2011 @ 19:28

This is a great walk for those who feel up for a further challenge in the Mournes. Unlike Donard which has a very defined route, this is largely pathless and cross all terrain - rocks, scree, river, bog, heather. You'll need to be kitted out with a map and a compass and know how to use them if the weather changes. Not a walk for an inexperienced hiker or someone who may have found Donard a hard slog, this is a demanding climb. Meelmore's ascent is more forgiving than the steep rocky descent down the wall to Bernagh and may lead you to think that this is an easy climb. Bernagh's twin peak challenge will wind even seasoned hikers, but the dander home through Hare's Gap eases the stiffness from your legs. Beware of slippy rocks when it's wet. This is truly an amazing climb, one of my favourites as it's accessible, yet challenging and doesn't last all day.

Stephen Ferguson 17 July, 2010 @ 14:24

Beautiful exhilarating walk, Itwas tough enough for me. I did not follow the walldown but went directly right from the top and headed straight down the mountain, very tough and slidey. ! Took me 3 and half hours

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