Silent Valley, a relaxing park in Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
Silent valley is one of the lovely UK country parks and one of Northern Ireland's best. Located on the south-east corner of the country, it is worth visiting if you want a day out in the park with the family. When the days get warmer and longer in April/May the park becomes very popular with the locals, but there is so much space that you will not feel crowded.
We visited once on a glorious May day. If you are coming from the Belfast area, your best option probably is to go down the A1 to Banbridge and then take the Road to Rathfriland, Hiltown and then Kilkeel. This is definitely the route we like to take. The last stretch of the road will take your through part of the Mourne Mountains and is a very scenic drive, especially in the spring.
As with many other parks in Northern Ireland, there is a small charge for entry, but it won't break your bank account. Once in, park your car and enjoy. There are picnic tables and plenty of green. Since it is nearly lunch time, we decide to have our picnic first and explore later.
To Ben Crom
The highlight of a visit to Silent Valley is without doubt Ben Crom. Ben Crom is a dam on the Bann river that collects water for Belfast and surrounding towns. To get there from the car par of Silent Valley you have two options. First, you can take the park bus. For a small fee it will take you there in less than 10 minutes. Second and more preferable, you can walk. The dam is about two miles from the car park and the road is paved throughout. The road has a slight incline so coming back will be a bit easier than getting there. The road follows the flow of the river so the view is lovely. Since we have little children we decide on a combination. We take the bus there and walk part of the way back.
Once there we climb to the top of the dam. At 200 feet high you can see quite a way back down the valley towards the park. On the opposite side is the artificial lake formed by the dam. We spent at least 45 minutes on the dam, enjoying the view, enjoying the sunshine, enjoying the pure and utter serenity of the place. Yes, serenity. Even though there are many people in the part, few bother to come to Ben Crom.
Rolling Down Green Slopes
Back in the park proper there is another artificial lake and a small dam, only a fraction the size of the mighty Ben Crom. A gentle, grass covered slope leads from this dam to the level of the park. Families sit at the top and children lie on the grass and roll down the slope. Adults try it as well usually donning hilarious expressions in the process making everyone laugh. It is already getting late afternoon and it is time for an ice cream from one of the coffee shops. It sure tastes lovely on a hot day.
Perfect Place for A Relaxing Day
Before we know it time has come to go. Time flies when you are having fun and this has certainly been the case with Silent Valley. A combination of plenty of green, good picnic areas, toilet facilities, places to buy food and, above all, Ben Crom, has made this a truly enjoyable day.
Silent Valley is not the foremost tourist destination but is a place locals love to go to on a nice day, a place which if you get the chance to visit you will surely enjoy.
Fast Facts about Silent Valley
Photo Credits: Jule_Berlin at Flickr
Note: a certain two year old I know very well, stepped on the external hard drive and broke off the USB connection. All my personal photos are in there, years and years worth of photos. If I won't be able to retrieve them, she won't have any photos of herself from newborn to two years old. Is that enough punishment? Toddlers, don't you love them...
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