A dull, overcast Sunday afternoon – typical Irish anytime weather – we felt we needed a walk to shake off Sunday lunch and opted for the Silent Valley, a place not far from where I grew up and where my parents used to take us for Sunday strolls.
It is actually a reservoir and was built to gather water from the Mourne Mountains, now this is the main water supply for most of Co Down and a large part of Belfast. Ringed by mountains and located in the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty it is a gorgeous spot – my pictures here are dull and grey, they in no way do it justice.
Getting there was not so gorgeous though – the roads are narrow and bumpy to say the least and with a very queasy Son in the back seat looking ominously like he might explode at any moment, relief was the emotion we felt as we arrived and paid to enter the grounds.
The car park was surprisingly busy – we discovered Music In The Park events take place here throughout the summer months which attracted a lot of picnicking families. Rightly so, the atmosphere and setting complemented nicely the band playing on the stage in front of the visitor centre. We listened for a little while, ice creams in hand before setting off on our walk and explorations.
There is a lot to see here – beautiful parkland, lakes and a pond area. Away from the visitor centre we found incredible peace and solitude, a unique landscape and plenty of wildlife.
We followed one of three marked trails – the reservoir loop – which everyone enjoyed, not least because it was easy and flat going. We saw the famous Mourne Wall, built to enclose the catchment area of the reservoir between 1904 and 1922. It was made from natural granite stone using traditional dry stone walling techniques. The statistics are impressive – 22 miles long and it passes over 15 of the Mourne’s summits.
We walked around the reservoir and found a place to perch and soak up the views.
Through the woods and a soundtrack of buzzing accompanied us. Not sure if it was bees or wasps but when Son likened it to the Hunger Games and the tracker jackers we weren’t quite so happy and were glad to emerge unscathed.
A lovely place to walk, the perfect Sunday afternoon.