What in the world is it? Well “slieve” means “hill” or “mountain” and Croob is the name so Slieve Croob could be rendered as Mount Croob. It is one of the peaks of the Mourne Mountains. At 546 meters high it is not the greatest of challenges but is a favored destination for amateur hikers and people who enjoy a nice 2.4 miles long walk. It affords some of the best views in Northern Ireland.
The peak is lost in the maze of small country roads between Banbridge, Castlewellan and Dromara. It is not a most popular tourist destination, not very well signposted so to get there you will probably get lost two or three times on the way, even if you have a good map. But don't lose heart. The local farmers will be more than happy to direct you and once you get there it will be worth the while. And while you are trying to get there, you will criss-cross the beautiful Down countryside and see what real Ireland is all about and why it is called the Emerald Isle.
Park and Walk
At the start of the hike there is a small car park that is rarely full. There are picnic tables there if you wish to stop for a bite afterwards. You will not need special shoes or hiking gear. On the top of the mountain there was a military communication tower during the Troubles which means there is paved road (nearly) all the way to the top. No private vehicles are allowed on it, but it does make for a smoother hike. But do have a camera with you and maybe a good pair of binoculars. On a clear day you can see all the way to Donegal.
I walked to the top twice. Compared to other peaks, it is a piece of cake. The hike can take up to an hour depending on how fit you are and how quickly you want to walk. As with most peaks even on a good day there will likely be a cold wind on top. The walk to the communications station is easy but if you want to go to the very top you have to walk another 200 meters over dirt paths that more often than not are muddy. Sheep will roam around you freely. A dog wouldn't be very welcome here!
The View from Slieve Croob
The first time I climbed the peak was a dreary October day, the other a cool spring day. Both times visibility was not optimum. So I did not see Donegal. However, even on an overcast day the view is fantastic. To the west you can see lake Lough Neagh. To the northwest you can see Belfast with the giant cranes in the harbor of Harland and Wolff where the Titanic was built. Further away the Sperrin Mountains with their own scenic climbs and mountain paths. South and east the green hills of County Down where we lived and which we grew to love. You can also see the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man clearly defined in the distance.
Should you Go?
If you like hiking yes. You can climb Slieve Croob in the morning and you will be done before noon. Have a picnic at the carpark and then stop by Legananny Dolmen five minutes away. And take the Bronte Homeland Tour in the afternoon and by the end of the day you will be ready to sit down to a nice hot meal having explored the heart of our beloved County Down.
If you think you will enjoy climbing the peaks of Northern Ireland, you might as well do it right.