Walk up Slieve Croob via Pass Loaning
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A circular walk from the village of Finnis, County Down to the summit of Slieve Croob, returning via quiet country roads.
Route Start Location: Peter Morgan’s Cottage car park.
|10.34 km||634 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
Toilet facilities for customers of Eurospar, Dromara and Square One Bar & Bistro, Dromara https://www.facebook.com/SquareOneDromara/ T: 028 9753 2986. Plentiful bars and restaurants in Ballynahinch, 6 miles away, including the excellent Primrose Bar https://www.primrosebar.co.uk/ T: 028 9756 3177 Accommodation available in Millbrook Lodge Hotel, Ballynahinch https://www.millbrooklodge.co.uk/
The usual precautions and equipment for a mountain hike should suffice. Parts of the route are boggy at all times and gaiters would be a distinct advantage. A significant portion of the walk is on public roads, which are quiet, but not traffic-free. Therefore, it would be unsuitable for groups of more than 2 or 3 people. This is a walk to be undertaken in good visibility.
Car Park at Peter Morgan’s Cottage, BT25 2EE. From Dromara, take the B7 for Rathfriland. After about 1¼ miles, on reaching Finnis, turn left onto Dree Hill; after a few yards, turn left at Peter Morgan’s Cottage and park (you may have to open the gate). The contact number of the custodian is listed on the community noticeboard and it would be courteous to let them know that you are leaving your vehicle in the car park for 3 hours or so.
Walk up Slieve Croob via Pass Loaning
Although it forms part of the Mournes AONB, Slieve Croob differs from its Mourne cousins by its relative isolation. It is also a much less popular destination for hikers and will appeal to those who enjoy a walk with only sheep for company. It is the highest point in the Dromara Hills at 534m and the summit commands one of the country’s most spectacular views. This walk uses the Pass Loaning permissive path and traverses a wild, desolate landscape that hosts the source of the Lagan, Northern Ireland’s longest river. About a third of the walk takes place on quiet public roads.
Walk up Slieve Croob via Pass Loaning Route Description
1 Leaving the car park, turn left and walk up Dree Hill for about 30 metres before turning left onto Drin Road.
2 The road is quite steep at first but soon levels out. In about 1.2km you will reach the Pass Loaning on your right. This is a Permissive Path, not a Right of Way. Use is allowed by the landowner, who may impose certain rules and restrictions agreed with the relevant council.
3 The concrete surface of the road makes for easy walking and the gradient is gentle as you make your way steadily upwards between the old stone walls that border the path. After about 1.4km, a stile and marker post beside an iron gate lead on to a rougher track gouged out between two low, irregular stone walls.
4 A fairly steep ascent follows, aided by strategically placed marker posts, which work on the basis that when one is reached, the next will be visible. Bear in mind that this waymarking system demands clear visibility and good eyesight.
5 After about a kilometre, cross a second stile. As height is gained, the landscape becomes progressively wild and rocky.
6 There is a good chance of seeing birds of prey; buzzards and kestrels are frequently spotted and many walkers report sightings of red kite. On a clear day the views are superb with the Belfast Hills standing out clearly to the north and Strangford Lough shimmering to the east.
7 Less than half a kilometre from the second stile you reach another as the summit transmitters come into sight. A further 1.5km over reasonably level, but often boggy ground brings you to the junction with the transmitter road. The sogginess underfoot confirms the proximity of the source of the River Lagan, Northern Ireland’s longest river at 86 kilometres. Opinion is divided on the actual location, if indeed there is one specific source, but when you spot a grit bin that has been downcycled to a rubbish bin, you’ll know you’re close.
8 Soon after joining the road – and averting your eyes as you pass the transmitter station and radio masts – a series of three rickety stiles guide you to the summit. On a clear day, the view from the top of the 534m mountain is one of the finest in the country. To the south lie the Mourne Mountains, to the north Cave Hill and the Belfast Hills. In very good visibility you may spot the Isle of Man out in the Irish Sea.
9 Sadly, the summit cairn is a shadow of its former self having suffered slippage and damage over the years. Some of its stones have been used to create a set of smaller cairns giving it the nickname The Twelve Cairns.
10 From the summit, it’s a downhill dawdle for 2.4km to the car park on Dree Hill.
11 The walk ends with a 3km return down Dree Hill to Finnis, passing over the meandering course of the juvenile River Lagan several times as it makes its way eventually to Belfast. Dree Hill is not busy, but it’s by no means traffic-free; however, in clear weather it is not dangerous as it is mostly straight, with traffic easily spotted well in advance. It would be best avoided when visibility is poor.
A much easier and quicker, but less interesting route to the summit begins at the Dree Hill car park and follows the transmitter road to the top. Route details on www.walkni.com
Dogs are not allowed on either walk.
Peter Morgan’s Cottage features an art installation with images associated with the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa. Recent years have seen the revival of Blaeberry Sunday when local people would pick bilberries, known locally as blaeberries, on their way to the summit of Croob where dancing, music and carousing would ensue.
The sculpture in the Dree Hill car park is a public art piece by local artist Chris Wilson entitled ‘Source of the River Lagan’. It consists of slabs of Mourne granite sandwiched together with a window to view the landscape, complemented by etched steel plates depicting the local heritage.