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    Walk in Ireland- The One With The Best Extinct Volcano

    Walk this way to embrace the Giant Spirit of Northern Ireland with its gently unfolding rural landscapes filled with trails, history and nature…..

    Slieve Gullion Loop, County Armagh.

    Discover a true hidden gem with a walk in Ireland on the Best Extinct Volcano, the Slieve Gullion Loop in County Armagh – This walk is centered on the craggy heather covered hills of a circular ring dyke volcano that erupted over 50 million years ago.  Slieve Gullion is a mountain of many accolades. Rising to 573m it is the highest point in County Armagh and the centre piece of the volcanic landscape. It is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) which recognizes the importance of the geology and the upland heather moorland.

    There are archaeological wonders on this walking loop too – The mountain’s southern summit holds the highest neolithic  passage tomb in Ireland, while the northern summit is home to a Bronze age cairn. People have lived at the Ring of Gullion in County Armagh for over 6,000 years. The area is renowned for the wealth of Megalithic and early Christian monuments including over twenty large stone tombs.

    Slieve Gullion, County Armagh © Tourism Northern Ireland.

    Also close by is the Dorsey, dating from the Iron Age period. This is a massive earth embankment and rampart which sits astride an ancient route way to Eamhain Macha, the ancient capital of Ulster.

    Long distance walkers explore the area on the 58km (36 miles) Ring of Gullion Way, while the shorter Slieve Gullion Loop circuit is a great option for day hikers.


    Moderate to difficult. There is mixed terrain on this walk with forest tracks, mountain paths with 500m ascent and signed country roads.


    12.5km/7.76 miles/ 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours.

    Start and Finish at:

    Start the walk from the Slieve Gullion Courtyard Centre in Slieve Gullion Forest Park in County Armagh. Begin by heading around the mountain’s southern slopes on forest tracks, then divert onto a mountain path that traverses the twin summits. Finish by following a series of country roads past Killevy Old Church and back to the start.

    Killevy Old Church, County Armagh. 

    This site at the foot of Slieve Gullion contains two distinct churches joined lengthwise. The smaller and older West church dating from 11th Century is characterised by a most impressive, low lintel doorway built of three massive shaped granite stones. The East Church, an Augustinian Convent, dates from 15th Century and has a very impressive arched window with angel carvings still visible on its outside. It is also the site of an early monastery founded by St. Moninna in 517 as one of the most important monasteries for nuns in Medieval Ireland.

    Killeavy Old Church Newry ©

    The Giant’s Lair Story Trail, Slieve Gullion Forest Park. 

    The Giant’s Lair Story Trail within the Slieve Gullion Forest Park is where you’ll want to go for the strongest fairy tale vibes—from the giant-size sculptures of teacups, a storybook, and a witch to the “Fairy Village” and the “Fairy Kingdom.” Follow in the footsteps of Flynn the mischievous fairy, who has one important job – not to allow anyone to wake Slieve Gullion; It might look like a mountain but it’s really a sleeping giant! Drop in for a cup of dandelion tea, grab a seat at the Giant’s Table, stroll along to the Ladybird House and sneak a peek at local witchy trickster, The Calliagh Berra. The Giant’s Lair captures a genuine sense of enchantment and mystery in the beautiful setting of Slieve Gullion Forest Park.

    Slieve Gullion Forest Park ©

    How to get there:

    From Newry take the Dublin Road until the Cloghoge Roundabout (2km). Travel on the B113 towards Forkhill, for approximately 5km past Meigh until the sign for Slieve Gullion Forest Park on the right hand side of the road just before Drumintee. Follow the drive past the Courtyard Centre to the car park which is the start and finish of the walk.

    Walking Check-List: 

    Check the weather and pack smart – Have a fully charged cell phone; Water; Snacks; Wear layers of appropriate clothing, waterproof jacket and correct footwear/waterproof hiking boots.

    Leave word with someone about where you are going and approximately what time you expect to be back.

    Never leave any items or valuables visible inside your parked vehicle.


    In the Slieve Gullion Courtyard buildings there is the lovely Synge & Byrne Café (8am to 6pm 7 days a week), Synge & Byrne Coffee dock, and the Clanrye Tuck Shop.

    Synge and Byrne Cafe, Slieve Gullion Courtyard Centre © Synge and Byrne

    Suggested Walking Guide:

    Find more route details of the Slieve Gullion Loop and a map on the Walking in Northern Ireland website.


    Phone 999 or 112 and advise the emergency crew whether you need an Ambulance, the Gardaí (police), Fire Brigade or Mountain Rescue.

    The Slieve Gullion Loop Walk “Leave No Trace” principles are:

    1. Plan ahead and Prepare
    2. Be Considerate of Others
    3. Respect all Animals and Wildlife
    4. Travel on Durable Ground
    5. Leave What You Find
    6. Dispose of Waste Properly
    7. Minimize the effects of fire.
    Walk in Ireland – The One With The Best Extinct Volcano ©


    Minimize your impact on the environment. Leave nothing but footprints & take nothing but photographs.

    Why not embrace a Giant Spirit? 

    Experience an unforgettable vacation in Ireland in 2021 with guided or self-guided walking tours, cycling tours, horse riding, surfing, sea kayaking and much more.  Why not take a look at some of our private chauffeur vacations for some additional vacation inspiration.

    We can customize any of our Ireland Tours to suit your requirements and include any of the activities and visitor attractions that are on your bucket list. Whatever you decide to do is entirely up to you!!

    If you would like to take a well deserved breather in Ireland contact Specialized Travel Services by completing the Contact form or by email to

    Northern Ireland is a land built by a Giant Spirit. Let us awaken yours…………..



    Note: Featured image at the top of the blog is of Slieve Gullion in Northern Ireland ©

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      Newry Townhall © Chris Hill & Tourism Ireland
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      Slieve Gullion Loop, County Armagh ©
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      The Giants Lair, Slieve Gullion Forest Park ©


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