Murlough National Nature Reserve

Murlough National Nature Reserve is a fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust and managed as Ireland’s first Nature Reserve since 1967.

It is an excellent area for walking and bird watching due to its spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains.

It offers the best and most extensive example of dune heath within Ireland, a network of paths and boardwalks through the dunes, woodland and heath with an array of butterflies and wild flowers. One of 22 butterfly species, the Marsh Fritillary, is of European importance. The reserve is internationally important for wintering wildfowl and waders as well as a haul-out site for Common and Grey seals.

There is evidence of human habitation from Neolithic times, through the Bronze Age to the present day and access to one of the finest beaches in County Down, complete with stunning panoramic views of the Mountains of Mourne sweeping down to the sea. There is a self-guided nature walk and additional guided walks and volunteer events throughout the year.

The Trust maintains coastal and mountain paths for hikers to Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s much loved highest mountain, and neighbouring Slieve Commedagh. The walks offer spectacular scenery and access up to the Mourne Wall and into the Inner Mournes. The Mourne Coastal Footpath stretches for a mile and a half south of the historic site of Bloody Bridge. From Bloody Bridge you can follow the intriguingly named Brandy Pad, an ancient smuggler’s route from the shore into the heart of the mountains.

There are 1300 acres of upland, comprised principally of dry and wet heath and acid grasslands, home to rare montane lichen communities.

Visitor facilities include – Nature reserve, coast, country walk, access for visitors with disabilities, suitable for picnics, learning opportunities. Dogs welcome on leads.

Opening times

Access all year
14th March - 29th March Saturday and Sunday 10:00 - 18:00
3rd April - 12th April Monday - Sunday 10:00 - 18:00
13th April - 31st May Saturday and Sunday 10:00 - 18:00
1st June - 27th October Monday - Sunday 10:00 - 18:00
28th October - 1st November Saturday and Sunday 10:00 - 18:00

Getting to the start by car

Directions from Town:
Bus: Ulsterbus No 20 between Belfast and Newcastle. For Murlough, alight at Lazy BJ Caravan Park after Dundrum. For Slieve Donard travel to Newcastle. Car: For Murlough follow signs on A24, 2ml South of Dundrum. Parking for Slieve Donard in Newcastle or Bloody Bridge on A2, 2mls south of Newcastle. Drive time: 45 minutes from Belfast.

Price from £

Admission Charged when Facilities Open
Car: £4.00
Minibus: £6.50
Coach: £15.50
Motorbike: £1.70
Bicycles: Free

Murlough National Nature Reserve
Co Down
BT33 0NQ



Attractions in Co Down