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Quality Walk

Slieve Donard from Bloody Bridge

This walk begins in the Bloody Bridge car park (on the coast), follows the Bloody Bridge River and then follows the Mourne Wall to the summit of Slieve Donard (850m).




3.2 (one way) miles

OS Map

Sheet 29 + Mourne Outdoor Pursuits Map (1:25,000)

Nearest Town


Route Shape


Route Type



Off road unsurfaced path, uneven

Grid Reference (Start)


Grid Reference (End)


Point of Interest

Bloody Bridge, Mourne Wall, quarry and disused railway, Slieve Donard

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


Route Description

From the southern end of the car park cross the main A2 road to reach a gate. Pass through and follow the path on the right hand side of the Bloody Bridge River.

Look out for the attractive stonework of the original Bloody Bridge. During the 1641 rebellion this was the scene of a massacre of prisoners on escort from Newry to Newcastle.

In common with most Mourne rivers, the Bloody Bridge River is a ‘spate river’: carrying little more than a trickle in dry weather, but swelling to a torrent during heavy rainfall. In addition, it occupies an outsize glaciated valley and its waters have eroded through a bank of glacial sand, boulders and gravel (called a moraine) to reach the sea. The exposed cliff-like face of the moraine is visible (left) upstream of the old bridge.

After 750m the path narrows and crosses a wooden footbridge at the confluence of the Bloody Bridge and Glen Fofanny Rivers before (in 50m) reaching the stile.

Beyond the stile the path picks its way upstream. After 400m look for an obvious slab of rock inclining towards a narrow section of river. Several conveniently placed boulders make this an easy crossing point. Continue upstream along the opposite bank.

After 80m the path climbs above the river’s course, twisting back on itself (seawards) along a broad track giving views across the valley.

View north. From this point Slieve Donard is largely hidden by the bulk of Crossone whose lower slopes form a watershed dividing the Bloody Bridge and Glen Fofanny Rivers. The long shelf of Leganabruchan borders Glen Fofanny on its northern side with the edge of Donard Wood just visible against the backdrop of Dundrum Bay.

Continue for 30m before turning sharp right onto a narrower track which zig-zags uphill. PLEASE KEEP TO THE ZIG-ZAG SECTION OF PATH AND DO NOT TAKE SHORT-CUTS.

Above the zig-zag, the path follows an old quarry track which extends 1.4km into the upper valley before skirting (right) along the north side of the quarry.

From a vantage point above the quarry the line of a disused railway leading to Carr’s Face on the slopes of Chimney Rock Mountain can be discerned. Large flat granite slabs were hewn from this area for use as ornamental stone or as foundation blocks in post-war construction works.

Beyond the quarry the path meets the Mourne Wall at 750m. From here Slieve Donard can be reached by following the Mourne Wall uphill for 1km to the tower on the mountain summit.

On a clear day the panorama from Slieve Donard is superb. In particular, note the continuation of the Brandy Pad further west and the scale of the quarry operation on the side of Chimney Rock Mountain – now vividly revealed from Donard’s viewpoint.

Please be aware - Although, there are numerous walking routes in the Mournes, the majority of these popular walks are not formally designated public rights of way. Most routes have developed over time due to traditional use. Below 600 feet (180m) most land is privately owned and is farmed or grazed. Many of the traditional access routes cross this land or pass along farm lanes and quarry tracks. Walkers are advised to respect that they may be walking on private land and are encouraged to make themselves aware of and adhere to the principles of 'Leave No Trace' - www.leavenotraceireland.org"

Please remember that much of the land you will cross is private property and access is only available through the goodwill of the landowners. Although some areas of the countryside have been traditionally used for recreation, the public have no general rights to access such land and are only walking with the tolerance of the landowner.

Getting to the Start (by Public Transport)

Translink - journeyplanner.translink.co.uk

Getting to the Start (by Car)

From Newcastle head south towards Kilkeel. Approx 1.86 miles (3kms) look out for a car park on the left hand side. This is Bloody Bridge car park and the starting point for this walk.


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


Toilets in car park. Refreshments in Newcastle.


Route 2 in a pack of walks titled - 'Mourne Mountain Walks' produced by Mourne Heritage Trust

Publication Availability

This pack of route cards costs £5.95 and is available from - Mourne Heritage Trust - 028 4372 4059 Newcastle Tourist Information Centre - 028 4372 2222

Walk Location
Map of Northern Ireland
Image Gallery

Ratings and Comments

Geoff Jones 14 May, 2018 @ 08:23

A challenging walk for my partner and I, both getting on a bit but something we had been promising each other for two years. I have to say that I found the erosion of the 'paths' quite depressing. With good numbers of people in various states of attire, scambling up and down you witnessed erosion in action and were conscious of making your own contribution.

Not only is the erosion wrecking parts of the landscape it is also taking away the covering of peat, revealing a difficult if not dangerous, boulder strewn maze.

I'm not sure whether plans are in place to manage this problem (no doubt at great expense) but there are plenty of examples of similar scenarios elsewhere where compromises between landscape and amenity have had to be made e.g. Brecon Beacons.

Billy Clarke 16 October, 2017 @ 15:28

1st.Oct. went up to celebrate my 80th. 32 tried 26 made it. Youngest ,Sam ,5yrs.

They sang Happy birthday and had champagne at top.


Brilliant occasion!

Steven brechin 13 May, 2016 @ 00:30

Excellent route to top for novice and experience walkers

Neil Armstrong 4 May, 2014 @ 22:27

Fantastic walk which requires a big effort. Tough start, nice middle part and big finish to the summit...well worth the effort!

www.dcramblers.webs.com for more

Nick 26 August, 2013 @ 23:25

This is definitely a tight enough ascent. There are 4 steep gradients on the final ascent up Donard but its worth it. Also, be careful coming down as the footing can be treacherous

Dave 16 July, 2010 @ 18:42

Thursday 15th July 2010

An excellent walk although found it very tight in places especially on the feet.

started out from the carpark on the A2 Bloody bridge and headed up the right hand side of the Bloody Bridge River which is a well walked track for about 1km at which point we crossed the Glen Fofanny River, the wooden footbridge is no longer in place but the River can be safely crossed with the use of large boulders. Still staying on the right hand side of the BBR for another 350m we then crossed the fjord and made our way to a stile you have to cross at this fjord as there are no paths on the right hand side of the river after this crossing point. We then made our way upwards along the left hand side of the BBR on the old Quarry track this is where we found the walk more taxing as for the next 1.5km we were walking on large stones/boulders all the way to the Quarry. The views and scenery are outstanding both downwards towards the sea and upwards towards the summit of Slieve Donard.

From the Quarry the terrain is a mixture of boulders/grass and peat with some places being very soft underfoot at which you could easly sink above ankle depth so a good pair of waterproof boots would be advisable.

From the Quarry it would be another 500m to the Mourne wall at which point we stopped and took a well earned cup of tea and some ham sandwiches & after climbing an exhaustive 3.5km ham sandwiches would of been fit for a king.

We decided that we would return back down the same way we arrived as the weather was very temperamental so after our late lunch we started our descent and although we were only 550m above sea level it was high enough because as we set off the cloud dropped and within 150m of our descent the hail came down hard eventually turning to rain as we reached the Quarry we had covered approx 1.5km before we had sight of the sun again but from the fjord all the way down to Bloody Bridge it turned out to be pleasantly warm but it is on the descent that care should be taken because of the terrain you are crossing it could be so very easy to twist/break an ankle if you were forced to move faster due to weather conditions.

all in all i found this walk very exhillerating & enjoyable and would recommend to all walkers novice and veteran

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