There is something special for me about sunrise and particularly sunset – it’s such a peaceful yet almost magical experience as you watch the sun slip away into the horizon.
“I climb mountains so I can see where the sun sleeps.”
No two sunrises or sunsets are the same. That’s why they’re my favourite times of the day to go for a hike. A summer sunrise isn’t maybe as appealing due to such an early rise compared to a summer sunset, but boy you won’t be disappointed on a clear day! It’s an experience you don’t want to miss!
My first step is always to plan – camera charged and check the met office app/ website and search ‘Mourne Mountains’ (this will give you specific weather forecast at height and percentage of cloud coverage etc).
When writing this piece I had to pause and think as there are so many wonderful locations in the Mournes for sunrise and sunset, but these are my 5 personal favourites to snap some photos from!
So here goes…
1. Sunset from Doan (Central Mournes)
100% my first choice for sunset is Doan in the Mournes. At 593m high and in the centre of the mountain range it gives a 360 degree view of the higher Mournes. I love this spot for sunset as it’s easily accessible and we even take the kids with us. It’s always a real adventure and due to the short hike it means we are guaranteed to reach the car again before the light has completely gone.
Starting at Ott car park and heading up to the saddle of Slieve Loughshannagh and Carn, climb over the stile and down into the valley below, making your way to Doan, the cone-shaped mountain in the middle. A quick walk up and a little scramble at the top and you’re ready for some epic sunset photos!
With so many different vantage points on Doan, it had to be my number 1 spot in the Mournes for sunset!
2. Sunrise and sunset from Hen Mountain (Western Mournes)
Hen Mountain at 354m in the Western Mournes is definitely one not to be overlooked. It’s short and sweet but amazing for photographing both sunset and sunrise! There are so many vantage points on Hen from photographing the rocky Tors and little pool of water, to scrambling on top of the rocks to photograph the sunset across the grass fields for miles below!
I’ve visited Hen for sunrise once last summer after numerous failed attempts at sunrise photography on Slieve Croob – every single morning that I tried I got a band of low cloud (devastating after such an early rise!). But I decided to try once more and headed for Hen. Parking at the Sandbank car park, crossing the road and heading up the path with a quick walk brought me to the top of Hen. It’s ideal for sunrise or sunset as it’s such a short hike, and it means you won’t be stuck in the dark if you decide to go for either time of the day. There is definitely something lovely about sitting behind the camera completely alone and one with nature as you watch the sun rise up from the horizon!
3. Sunset from Slieve Meelbeg
At 702m, Slieve Meelbeg has always been one of my favourite mountains in general. I’m not quite sure why but I’ve always loved it. Nothing better than sitting on the wall at the top and looking down towards Lough Shannagh. I even spent my 30th birthday up there! This mountain was one of the first I photographed sunset from last year and we spent many an evening as a family hiking up to the top for sunset.
On a calm evening it’s a great spot to photograph the sun sinking into the horizon and watching the colour of the sky change to hues of orange and red or pink and purple! You never get the same view twice!
It’s great to sit and watch the tones and colours of the mountainsides change as golden hour commences.
Once again this mountain is not too long a hike. Parking at the car park at the bottom of Slieve Meelmore/Slieve Meelbeg on the Trassey road, you can head straight up the valley until you reach the saddle of the two mountains. Then follow the wall to your right followed by a quick up-hill and you’ve reached the summit. This is another one that is a good one for a summer sunset as with a good pace you can reach the car park again before losing all light!
Remember, always carry a head torch though just in case!
4. Sunset from Slieve Muck
Slieve Muck at 670m is a great spot to watch the sunset from. My eldest and myself did this a couple of times in winter on a clear day. This one was ideal when the days were shorter as we were able to watch the sun set over Spelga dam on our descent from the mountain!
My favourite approach for Slieve Muck is to park at Spelga Dam (at the end where Slieve Muck is) and then follow the Mourne Wall straight up Slieve Muck. This is the steeper but shorter route and I enjoy it the best. It can be particularly muddy and wet but definitely worth it for the views at the top!
My favourite spot to set the camera and tripod up is on the way back down and to photograph the Mourne Wall as it meanders down the mountainside.
5. Sunset from Slieve Binnian
Finally Slieve Binnian, at 747m, is a longer and bigger hike but totally worth it for those views and sunset photos! This mountain is one of my personal favourites to photograph in any season and any time of the day! I definitely hope to visit it more this summer at sunset to get the perfect shot!
This is a good one to hike in summer at sunset as the longer evenings give you a better opportunity to capture plenty of photos in that gorgeous golden light.
I always start this walk from Carrick Little car park, follow the stone path and walk to the bottom of the Annalong Wood. I then take a left and follow the wall to the summit. There are so many opportunities and spots to photograph on this mountain! You can dander across the top capturing your photos and then head down the other side of the mountain, return to the valley and back to the car park.
My final piece of advice would be…
“Sunsets are one thing in life that won’t wait”
So don’t miss out! Have an adventure, take photos and cherish the memories!
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