Silent Valley is most known for its reservoir. Built to gather water from the Mourne Mountains, the Silent Valley Reservoir is the main water supply source for most of County Down and a large part of Belfast. The Valley is located within the Mourne Mountains, and offers beautiful parkland, lakes, dams and a pond. Visitors come here to enjoy the peace and solitude of the mountains and their wildlife.
When we left home this morning, we didn’t plan to go there. We headed to Meelmore and Meelberg, two peaks that are connected by a circular route starting from Ott car park on Slievenaman Road. The route to get there led us though small roads cutting through the mountains (and lot of potholes). In spite of being slower, we could enjoy beautiful panoramas. We stopped at Ott car park, just past the dam. We soon found out that the weather was harsh and the trail seemed to be closed. We asked a local, who gave us a lot of useful information about the area. She convinced us to go a bit further, to Silent Valley, instead. We gladly follow her advise.
Silent Valley offers different trails, of various lengths and difficulty. Parking costs 4.50 pounds and the area is kept wonderfully. We started walking along the Heritage trail (yellow path), that led us through the forest and to the reservoir. Once crossed the dam, we decided to follow the Challenge Trail (blue path) instead, winding uphill to a scenic route. From here, we could see a wonderful view on the mountains on one side, and the sea on the opposite side. The area is incredibly quiet – hence its name. The Challenge Trail also got us very close to the Mourne Wall.
The famous Mourne Wall was built between 1904 and 1922 by the Belfast Water Commissioners to enclose the reservoir’s catchment area. It was crafted from natural granite stone using traditional dry stone walling techniques. On average the wall is about 1.5 metres high and 0.8 to 0.9 metres thick. It is 22 miles (35 km) long and passes over fifteen of the Mourne’s summits. Many walkers use the wall as a marker. We had our share of fun while taking pictures on top of one of the ladders to pass the wall.
This unexpected destination was a very pleasant surprise. After the glamours of Friday night’s party at the Titanic Belfast, a walk in the quiet of Silent Valley was the best way of reconnecting with nature and its beauty, even when winter is approaching.
And yet, our sightseeing for the day wasn’t over. I’ll tell you about that in the next blog post…