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Nothing quite beats the feeling of plunging into cold water outdoors with nothing but stunning views surrounding you.

Wild swimming, or swimming outdoors, is a wonderful experience. It gives you the chance to reset and reconnect with nature and of course, is a great activity in our new socially distanced world.

The Mourne Coastal Route has a number of incredible swimming spots both along its coastline and further inland. Offering crystal clear waters in rivers, lakes and the sea, this part of the world really has it all.

Here are five of our favourite wild swimming spots along the Mourne Coastal Route.

1. Lough Shannagh


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Lough Shannagh is a wide open lake surrounded by the beautiful Mourne Mountains. Framed by several peaks including Slieve Doan and Slieve Loughshannagh, the surrounding landscape is covered in heather and gorse, creating a really stunning backdrop for a dip.

The water is crystal clear and refreshingly cold. The lake can be accessed via a half hour walk from the road.


2. Blue Lough/ Binnion Lough


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Nestled in the centre of the Annalong Valley, the Blue Lough is well-known to hill walkers and is a stunning spot for a refreshing dip.

The lough is just a short walk from the Carrick Little car park. Simply follow the path along the Annalong Wood before crossing the river. You will pass Percy Bysshe cave and the lough will be straight ahead of you shortly after.


3. Murlough Beach


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Murlough Beach is a Blue Flag beach which lies within the Mournes and Slieve Croob Area of Outstanding Beauty and the Murlough Special Area for Conservation. The 6km beach is very flat and flanked by the imposing Mourne Mountains and the mouth of Dundrum Bay. Ancient sand dunes also surround the wide beach.

The dune fields at Murlough are the best and most extensive example of dune health within Ireland with over 600 species of butterflies and moths. It is an ideal place for birdwatchers and walkers. And of course, the crystal clear waters make it an exceptional wild swimming spot too.


4. Annalong River Rock Pools


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This is somewhat of a hidden gem for wild swimming enthusiasts. The Annalong River flows right through the mountains down into the sea at Newcastle and offers one of the most scenic spots for a dip along the Mourne Coastal Route.

To get there, you must park at Carrick Little car park. From there you need to follow the path that takes you through the valley. You will see a small wooded area ahead with a path running alongside which you must follow. Continue to walk upstream when you hit the river and before long you will spot some waterfalls with glorious rock pools. The water here is crystal clear and so refreshing, it really is an idyllic spot to cool off after the short hike in!


5. Carlingford Lough

carlingford lough

It would be a crime to come to the Mourne Coastal Route without dipping a toe into the glorious Carlingford Lough. This glacial fjord forms the border between northern and southern Ireland and is one of the main attractions of the area thanks to the imposing hills that surround it.

There are numerous points where you can swim around the lough, but entry is probably easiest at Warrenpoint and Cranfield beaches. The latter is also a great place to watch the sunset.





By Outsider

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