The Mourne Mountains are the highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland, its summits crowned by granite tors. The mountains themselves are criss-crossed by an unrivalled network of paths and tracks. The area was voted the ‘Best Walking Destination’ in Northern Ireland in WalkNI’s inaugural awards. The routes providie enthusiastic walkers with incredible opportunities for exploration. The Mournes are divided into 2 very distinctive areas – the Eastern or ‘High’ Mournes and the Western or ‘Low’ Mournes. Any newcomer to the Mournes will be simply amazed at the variety of landscapes that can be encountered within such a confined geographical area. The Mourne Wall, now a famous landmark running through the Mournes, was originally built in an effort to keep cattle and sheep out of the water catchment area of the Silent Valley reservoir. Completed in 1922, it took over 18 years to complete with many skilled locals seasonally employed to build this stone wall which still stands up to 8ft high and 3ft wide. It is 22 miles (35.5km) in length and connects the summits of no less than 15 mountains in the Mournes, including Slieve Donard. During the 18th and 19th Centuries illegal cargo ships stocked full of illicit packages of tobacco, wine, spirits, leather, silk and spices docked at the foot of the Mournes in Newcastle. Smugglers then loaded ponies with these illegal products and trekked through the Mourne Mountains to Hilltown. Trade was so popular and the route so widely used that a track was soon created by the hooves of the heavily laden ponies. This old smugglers track still exists today and is used as a popular walking route, aptly know as “The Brandy Pad”.