Moat Pad and Adder’s Loanin Walk
A circular walk using two public footpaths, the Moat Pad and Adder’s Loanin, with superb views of the Mourne Mountains and the Dromara Hills.
Route Start Location: Lighthouse Road car park.
|11.25 km||243 m||4 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Moderate Walk
Summits and Places on this Route
- Turnip House Craft Workshop and Tea Room, BT31 9UF, is about two miles away on Dromara Road, but check opening hours first. Turley’s Bar in Dechomet, BT31 9QD, is located at the crossroads in the small village of Dechomet which the walk passes through. There is also an adjacent restaurant, Flax, reflecting its location on a former flax mill.
- The village of Dromara is about 7 miles away in the Ballynahinch direction. Toilet facilities are available for customers of Eurospar, Dromara. Also in Dromara, bar and restaurant facilities are available at Square One Bar & Bistro, Dromara, BT25 2BH
- For a wider choice of pubs, cafés and other hospitality options, the town of Castlewellan is 7 miles away to the south.
The walk includes a short section on the relatively busy B7 Rathfriland Road and would not be suitable for groups of more than three or four walkers. The Adder’s Loanin can be muddy in parts and stout footwear is recommended.
Parking : BT31 9UB
Lighthouse Road car park, BT31 9UB. The car park offers a panoramic view of the Mournes, the peaks of which are named on an adjacent information board. Limited picnic facilities are available. There is normally ample room in this lightly used car park.
Moat Pad and Adder’s Loanin Walk
This is a walk suitable for all ages and would appeal to small family groups. There are very few steep gradients and the maximum height gained is only about 230m. Slightly less than half the walk is on roads with one short section using a fairly busy B road. The walk also cuts through a farm. The scenery varies from mountain views to rough, rocky fields intersected by green pasture. Don’t expect to meet many fellow walkers as this is usually a very quiet outing.
This walk was undertaken in accordance with the Northern Ireland Executive Covid-19 guidance (February 2021) which advises: You should not travel more than 10 miles from your home in order to take exercise.
Moat Pad and Adder’s Loanin Walk Route Description
1 Turn left onto Lighthouse Road from the car park. On your right, Slieve Croob grabs the limelight, with Cratlieve to its left and Slievenisky to the right. Slievegarran lies south of the long summit plateau of Slievenisky. After about 500m turn left at the sign for Moat Pad.
2 Continue on the concrete road and veer right after passing a farm on the left. The path becomes a grassy farm track as it travels parallel to Lighthouse Road. After about 500m, turn right through a small gate onto a narrow grassy path (the Pad).
3 The path takes a gradual upward course with expansive Mourne Mountain views to the left and Slievenaboley and the Dromara Hills on the right. Conditions underfoot should be firm and dry although possibly slightly overgrown depending on the season.
4 As the path gains height and reaches a wooden farm gate, Slieve Gullion comes into view far off to the south-west, while Dehommed Mountain and its summit transmitters lie to the north-west.
5 After passing through another wooden gate the path begins to drop down towards a farm. Walk through the farm and continue the downward trajectory passing a couple of dwellings before meeting the B7 Rathfriland road.
6 Turn left and walk for about 300m until you arrive in Dechomet, also known as Lowtown. Take care on the road which can be quite busy; however, there are reasonably wide verges when required. The vista to the left is favoured with a Mournes backdrop, while to the right, decaying abandoned farmsteads sit alongside sturdy Ulster farmhouses.
7 There are several points of interest in the village. The chapel dates from the mid-nineteenth century, but its interior is modern, in a style that is striking yet tasteful. The chapel bell dates from1854. A well-appointed bar and restaurant at the crossroads await the thirsty walker.
8 Continue straight ahead at the crossroads and head for the tall redbrick chimney that stands alone in a field to the left of the road. The chimney is all that remains of the former Dechomet Flax Mill. The neat walkway leading to it suggests that it has been preserved as a potential visitor attraction.
9 In a field behind the chimney lies the old Drumgooland Church graveyard with the monumental stones arranged in a semicircle. Nothing remains of the church and the alignment of the gravestones is explained by a disastrous and destructive attempt in1976 by the local council to tidy up the graveyard using a bulldozer
The gravestones are badly weathered and most of the epitaphs are illegible. The earliest readable example dates from 1735.
10 Make your way back into Dechomet and take the first turning on the right at the crossroads onto Ballymackilreiny Road.
11 The road is generally traffic free and its 2.2km course is punctuated by spectacular views of the Mournes from varied perspectives on one side and quiet, green countryside on the other. Walk the full length of Ballymackilreiny Road until it meets Millvale Road.
12 Turn left at the junction with Millvale Road and after a few metres, turn left again onto Adder’s Loanin. The loanin is likely to be a lot muddier and wet than the Moat Pad and has a lot more twists and turns throughout its course.
13 There are several gates to negotiate and a couple of abandoned cottages to explore on the way to the junction with the Moat Pad. Gaps in the vegetation reveal further excellent Mourne views to the south-east beyond the rough fields adjacent to the loanin, while the countryside on the left of the path is more green and well-mannered.
14 The loanin is about half the length of the Moat Pad and ends with arrival at the farm passed at the beginning of the walk. Join the Moat Pad and, a few metres further, turn right onto Lighthouse Road, return to the car park and take another lingering look at the majesty of the Mournes.
Several historic monuments lie within easy driving distance of the car park, the most impressive of which is Legananny Dolmen, BT31 9TF (Grid Ref IG J 288434). The dolmen sits at the side of a narrow track beneath Cratlieve Mountain. The 4,000 year old structure commands a magnificent view of the Mournes. Its delicately balanced capstone sits on top of three unusually tall supporting stones. The dolmen remains one of the most atmospheric and evocative sights in Ireland. There is a small parking lay-by on Dolmen Road a few metres walk from the monument.
In a field at the other end of Dolmen Road, just before it meets Kilnhill Road, sits Legananny Pillar-Cross, BT31 9TF (Grid Ref IG J 303427), an early Christian standing stone surrounded by the remains of a small burial site. Again, the Mourne Mountains backdrop invests the stone with a unique aura.
To round off your visit, Finnis Souterrain, known locally as Binder’s Cove is located off Carrigagh Rd, BT25 2HS (Grid Ref IG J272442). The souterrain dates back to the 9th century. It consists of a main passage of around 30m long and two straight side passages on the right hand side, each approximately 6m long. The walls are built with dry stone masonry and the roof comprises large flat stone lintels.