Doan is one of our absolute favourite hikes in the Mourne Mountains and we return throughout the seasons to enjoy its unusual landscape and far-stretching vistas. It’s one of those great hikes that doesn’t require too much effort (really!) yet delivers on beautiful views, interesting terrain, peace and quiet and is so easy to access.
Several weeks of rotten weather meant we were unable to get out for a decent trek for most of February and so having survived the inevitable cabin-fever that comes with being stuck indoors we were well ready for some family time in the hills come mid-March!
Doan often wins the Saturday night vote on which trail to follow the next day and even though the days are now thankfully lengthening it still makes for a fairly short hike and can be completed throughout most of the year. We usually aim to leave Ott car park around 11am and tend to be back at the car by 4ish, and that’s with plenty of stops to snack, have lunch, enjoy the views and explore!
Now that the better weather is just around the corner, you may be considering trying out some of the Mourne Mountain trails with your kids, and I highly recommend that you do! For us as a family, our time spent in the mountains is without shadow of a doubt the highlight of our week and forms a big part of our life together. We have now summited most of the peaks in the Mournes and wandered around many of the lower level tracks, but we are always seeking out new routes or tackling familiar trails in a different way. While of course it is a great achievement to climb Donard and Commedagh and Binnian, what we are enjoying more recently is taking our time on shorter walks and really slowing down to look around, discover and learn about the landscape. While the old adage states that everyday is a school day, I can assert with certainty that the hills are most definitely a wonderful classroom – so not only does everyone get a good dose of exercise and fresh air, at the same time we learn so much. We are eager to teach ourselves about the plants and wildlife in the area, learn the names of the rivers and all the while are learning how to work as a team, develop resilience and really get to know one another!
If you fancy hitting the hills with your children, Ott track and Doan would be a good starting point. Across the road from the car park on Slievenaman Road you will see a stile, which you need to cross to join the trail which leads to the Mourne Wall – this little section makes for a decent walk on its own if you are just starting out and offers up some lovely views down to Fofanny Reservoir and if you reach to wall you will see Doan in the near distance with Slieve Binnian behind.
Enjoy and picnic lunch here before leisurely walking back to the starting point, or if you fancy a bit more of a challenge, continue onwards along the visible trail around to the base of Doan.
Once there, you will see that Doan itself isn’t actually all that big but is still a really fun climb with lots of big boulders to clamber over and in my opinion some of the most spectacular views in the Mournes from the top. It can be a wee bit breezy up there mind, so do hold onto your hats and keep kids close-by as there are some steep drops.
If you’re lucky enough to journey on a bright, still day, you will want to rest awhile on the lovely flat(ish) summit, have a cuppa and enjoy the panoramic vistas before heading back down the way you went up.
If you’d like to read about our other favourite family-friendly trails in the Mournes check out my blog post: OUR TOP 5 FAMILY-FRIENDLY TRAILS