Silent Valley and the Blue Lough

Ascent above Ben Crom Reservoir Our most recent walk - 20 October 2011 - While the strollers walked along the recently completed path in the glen of the Kilkeel River before retiring to the cafe for refreshments two groups of more foolhardy walkers each tackled a more challenging walk starting at opposite ends. Those who started from the Silent Valley walked north along the road beside the Reservoir (completed 1933).

About half way along we passed the outlet of the Binnian Tunnel (completed 1951) to add water from the Annalong River to the reservoir; it is almost two and a half miles long by 8 feet square, passes underneath Slieve Binnian. Two work squads totalling more than 150 men began at each end of the tunnel and took four years to meet half way, almost 800 metres under the mountain. The work was lit by candlelight but when the two squads met, they were mere inches off.

The col above Blue Lough Next we came to the reinforced concrete and granite faced dam of Ben Crom Reservoir, and climbed up so many steps to its top that I lost count, before crossing a stile to begin an oblique ascent up the steep lower slopes of Slieve Binnian. Despite large boulders (above right) and narrow muddy paths we were able to enjoy the spectacular landscape including the dramatic rocky slopes of Ben Crom opposite with only a hint of rain.

At the top of this challenging climb and fortified by lunch, we reached the col or saddle between Binnian and Slievelamagan where we stopped for a quick photo opportunity (left), as the clouds threatened to engulf us, before descending to Blue Lough, a tarn or corrie loch formed by glacial action, and thence past Annalong Wood to the welcome sight of the mini-bus in the car park at the junction of Oldtown Road and Head Road.