Hiking checklists for your trip up the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland

Hiking Checklists

Northern Ireland has a host of hiking opportunities, from the famous Slieve Donard,to the scenic Sperrin Mountains, to Slieve Croob and beyond.

What should I take when go hiking? I hear you asking.

That depends in part on how long your planned hike will be. If you are planning to reach peaks then five hours should be adequate. Here is a tentative list.

Here’s our hiking checklists:

  • Water – you will need it.
  • Small map of area – very useful, especially if you choose to hike off the beaten track.
  • Compass/GPS.
  • First Aid Kit.
  • High energy snacks like cereal bars, nuts,dried fruit or chocolate. What is the best dried fruit for hiking? We absolutely love apricots and raisins. Sweet, but not sticky and messy like dates.
  • Small towel.
  • Warm clothes – Even if you are hiking in the summer in Northern Ireland, on the mountains temperatures are lower and winds can be fierce. Bring layers and gear for rain. If you are hiking off the beaten track and away from mobile (cell) phone coverage ensure you are prepared for an overnight stay in case of accident.
  • Emergency blanket.
  • Hand sanitizer wipes or spray.
  • Mobile (Cell) phone
  • Extra pair of socks – they will come in handy if you step in water or mud.
  • Blister Plasters – this may sound strange but if you get a blister or your shoes hurt you it can save you a lot of trouble and pain.
  • Hiking checklists, we said. Here is another checklist:

    Additional Items

  • Camera – you have to capture those stunning views.
  • Lighter.
  • Pocket Knife.
  • Sunglasses (on bright days they will come in handy).
  • Sunblock.
  • iPod. Some people cannot live without it. We do not recommend it though. There are so many relaxing sounds up there in Northern Ireland’s peaks, it is a pity to miss them.
  • Lipbalm. the wind may dry your lips
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Tissue paper
  • Bug spray.
  • Some rope.
  • How heavy my hiking backpack should be?

    Now you are wondering, should I really carry all the above. Much depends on where you are going, with who and when. You do not want to overpack.

    A rule of thumb is not to carry more than 1/3 of your body weight Preferably much less. You do not want to carry excess weight to the top of Slieve Donard!

    Share the burden

    If you are part of a sizeable group you can share. Before you start, have a meeting and put your hiking checklists together. Then designate. All of you will need water and a snack, but one First Aid Kit should be sufficient for the whole group. All of you will need the right clothes but one or two flashlights should do.

    How should I pack my hiking back pack?

    As a rule of the thumb, place heavier items at the bottom. On the top, place items you will need in an emergency. Place items you will use frequently, in one of the easily accessible, outer pockets.

    “Be prepared.” So the Scouts motto says. Read more about hiking in Ireland and Northern Ireland:

    Hiking safety tips

    Hiking hazards

    What to wear when hiking

    and ofcourse…. the history of hiking!

    Coming very very soon! Please check back, or even better, save yourself the hassle and subscribe to our blog! That way, you will never miss an update.

    In the meantime, you might want to read how we huffed and puffed but managed to reach the top of Slieve Donard Co Down Ireland ?

    After that, hiking up Slieve Croob was a doodle. Read our hiking story.

    Return from Hiking Checklists to Northern Ireland Tourism Homepage 2008-2014.
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    Carrickfergus Castle – history comes alive in a great social events venue.

    Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle There are many Irish castles but Carrickfergus Castle is probably the best preserved of the old castles in Northern Ireland and certainly worth visiting. It is a typical example of how castles in the Middle Ages looked like.

    The castle has a banquet hall that is perfect for those thinking of a corporate medieval banquet or romantic castle wedding. If you are thinking of getting married at Carrickfergus castle click here, for more information.

    It is ideal to visit with children as it easy to access it and the life-size figures will make history come alive. You can even host worry-free children’s birthday parties there.


    Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle – How to get there

    It is easily accessible from Belfast, just 15 minutes away by car on the M5 north and then A2 along Belfast Lough through Whiteabbey and Jordanstown.

    If you are staying in Belfast you can arrange a visit when it suits. If you are staying further afield, you might want to combine a visit to Carrickfergus Castle with other sights on a day tour.

    Carrickfergus is also the name of the town where the castle is situated.

    Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle – What’s in a Name

    “Carrick” means “rock” in Gaelic. The name Carrickfergus means “the rock of Fergus” and derives, according to legend, from king Fergus who died nearby in the sea during a storm.

    Carroickfergus Castle, Northern Ireland Travel – The History of Carrickfergus Castle

    The castle was built on a rock promontory by John de Courcy in 1177 to serve as his base and guard the entrance to Belfast. John was a Anglo-Norman knight who conquered Ulster for England and ruled it in theory as a vassal to the king of England, but in practice as an independent prince. However, in 1204 he was defeated by another Norman, Hugh de Lacy.

    In 1210 King John captured the castle and it henceforth was a base of British rule in Ulster.

    Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle: Famous Battles, Famous Events

    Carrickfergus Castle has seen its share of important battles and events.

    Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle History: Edward the Bruce – 1315

    Edward the Bruce (brother of the famous Robert the Bruce) invaded Ulster from Scotland and by 1315 conquered all except Carrickfergus. In 1315 he laid siege to the castle. An attempt to relieve the castle from the sea was defeated. The defenders launched a surprise attack on the Scots and took some captive. According to some sources, they killed some of the prisoners and ate them! The castle surrendered in 1316, only to be recaptured by the English in 1318. The story of this war is told in the audio visual presentation in the castle, which you must see.

    carrickfergus-castle-king-william-statue Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle History: King William – 1690

    Carrickfergus castle is also famous because King William of Orange (William III of England) landed his army here in 1690.

    He then marched south and camped at Scarva village for training, a place they still re-enact the battle of the Boyne every year on July 13, the famous Sham Fight, before proceeding to the River Boyne where he defeated the Catholic forces establishing Protestant ascendancy.

    There is a plaque commemorating the landing.

    Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle History: Vive le France! – 1760 and the Seven Years War

    Carrickfergus castle also played a role in the career of the famous French privateer, Francois Thurot. In late 1759 Francois set sail with a small squadron of ships to raid British shipping and coasts in Northern Ireland and Scotland. After bad weather prevented him from raiding Londonderry Francois, desperate for supplies, landed 600 men and attacked Carrickfergus.

    The castle had a handful of defenders and after fierce fighting surrendered. The French looted the castle and the town and set sail. While trying to escape they were intercepted by three British warships. His vessel Belle-Isle was attacked and boarded by the Aeolus but Francois Thurot was already dead, having been killed by a musket shot.

    Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle History: American Adventures – 1778

    Carrickfergus and the waters beyond it became the scene of possibly the only time the American Navy scored a victory against the Royal Navy without having an overwhelming advantage.

    The year is 1778 and the American Revolution is in full swing. A number of American captains including John Paul Jones with his ship, the Ranger, set out to raid British merchant shipping in the Atlantic. Jones enter the Irish Sea where he can operate with some impunity as the majority of the British Fleet is either fighting in America or assembled in the Channel to avert a feared French attack.

    After failing to attack Whiteheaven on the coast of England, Jones sails to Carrickfergus to attack the British ship Drake. On the morning of April 24 the Drake set sail to meet the Ranger and after an hour long battle 15 miles to sea from Carrickfergus the Drake surrendered and was taken to France.

    Jones’ victory caused a sensation – the Royal Navy could be defeated. To be fair to the Drake however, it was only a merchant vessel, under supplied with war material, and fitted with guns that showed remarkable instability when fired. Key officers were absent during the fight and replaced by novices without naval experience or knowledge of the vessel. The North Channel Naval Battle as it came to be called, was one of the better known episodes of the naval war between Britain and America.


    Northern Ireland Travel – Carrickfergus Castle: Our Visit

    We visited Carrickfergus a number of times. When you plan your visit, check Opening times to avoid disappointment. Plan to spend about an hour though you can easily spend two if you are keen.

    Carrickfergus Castle: Our Visit – The Carrickfergus Castle Keep

    First go to the Keep, the 27.5 meter high tower were most of the function took place. In it you can see a model of the castle and the area as it would have been in ages past. You can climb to the first floor that was the main reception and dinning area and where the king and the knights held council. It is nicely maintained and can be let out for wedding receptions, business meals and other functions. On the top floor were the living quarters, sparsely furnished but spacious. Castles in the Middle Ages were not build for comfort but defense. Hence the sparse decorations and spartan environment. But you do have a a vantage point to look out. Have a look out the window for a great view over the Belfast Lough, or play some of the games medieval kings and knights might have played.

    afreeca2 Northern Ireland Travel, Carrickfergus Castle: Our Visit – The Grounds

    Once you are finished with the Keep, walk through the Carrickfergus castle grounds. Scattered around are life size human figures that represent either soldiers defending the castle or important persons associated with it. You will notice John de Courcy and his wife Affreca Godfredsdorrir, the viking princess of Mann who married John but was missing her home in the Isle of Man and so is looking nostalgically out to sea.

    Make sure you visit the chapel and the “murder hole” next to it (they are easy to miss) from where they would pelt attackers trapped by the portcullis (a trap at the castle entrance) with rocks, arrows or douse them with boiling oil.

    Northern Ireland Travel, Carrickfergus Castle:Children’s Birthday Parties:

    The vaults are available to hire for a 2 hour period between the hours of –

    10.30 – 15.00 Mon – Sat (Winter)

    10.30 – 17.00 Mon – Sat (Summer)

    A maximum of 25 children are permitted, for every 8 children 1 adult is admitted free of charge to allow for adequate supervision.

    Northern Ireland Travel, Carrickfergus Castle: Opening times:

    The castle is open all year round at the following times:


    Mon – Sat 10am – 4pm Sun – 2pm – 4pm

    April / May / September

    Mon – Sat 10am – 6pm Sun – 2pm – 6pm

    June / July / August

    Mon – Sat 10am – 6pm Sun – 12pm – 6pm

    Last admission 30 minutes before closing

    Northern Ireland Travel, Carrickfergus Castle: Admission charges:

    Adult – £3.00

    Children / Senior Citizens – £1.50

    Family (2 adults, 2 children) – £8.00

    Group rates available (10 plus must be pre-booked)

    For further information, you can contact:

    Carrickfergus Castle

    Marine Highway


    Co. Antrim

    BT38 7BG

    Tel: (028) 9335 1273

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