Western Mournes Hike by hbowman1 22 Apr 2012
I think Shanlieve is best climbed as part of a circuit of a longer walk rather than in isolation. Due to its close proximity of Eagle mountain and given the fact that Eagle mountain is taller, spectacular views would be missed if one stopped at Shanlieve. I recently climbed this mountain as part of a circuit which took in Shanlieve, Eagle, Slievemoughanmore, wee Slievemoughan and Rocky mountain. Starting from Leitrim Lodge, we followed the path which ran from the car park towards Pierce's Castle. To the right of the path lay Altataggart and Tievedockaragh and to the left of the path lay Rocky mountain, Tornamrock and Pierce's Castle. Unfortunately, this path does come to an end after Pierce's Castle. Thereafter, there is marshy pathless terrain to cover as we headed toward the Mourne wall, leading up to Shanlieve. This is the first steep ascent of the walk. However, upon summiting Shanlieve, nice views were to had of the Binnians and Slievenaglogh. Turning left, we followed the wall towards Eagle mountain. For me, the best part of hillwalking is the point when an extensive panoranma opens up very suddenly, when all one sees beforehand is the mountain which is being climbed. Arguably, Eagle mountain, is the best mountain in the Mournes in this respect. Extensive views are to had in every direction: Turning clockwise: Hen, Cock, Slievemoughanmore, Butter, Slieve Muck, Bernagh, Commedagh, Donard, Binnain, Slievenalogh, Finlieve, Shanlieve, Slieve Foye/Gullion in the Cooleys. We followed the wall from Eagle to the Windy Gap and thereafter climbed Slievemoughanmore. I would strongly recommend turning away from the wall as one draws near the summit. The summit cairn is a reached by turning left from the wall when the plateau flattens after the ascent from Windy Gap. The summit cairn offers decent views of the Spelga Dam and the valley between Cock/Hen and Rocky/Tornamrock. We descended towards wee Slievemoughan. This is probably, the smallest mountain in the Mournes. After summiting we headed towards the valley between Rocky mountain (opposite Hen) and Tornamrock. At this point, it is possible to return to Leitrim Lodge or, alternatively, take in Rocky. The main reason to take in Rocky mountain is simply this: you can admire all the mountains which you have just climbed: Shanlieve, Eagle, Slievemoughanmore, wee Slievemoughan. The full circuit is just over 11km.