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Cycle NI - Your definitive guide to cycling in Northern Ireland
Head Road Route
Route Location

Head Road Route

A moderate cycle with some ascent incorporating some fantastic sites. This is a spectacular cycle route beneath the High Mournes, with beautiful views across a countryside of patchwork fields and stonewalls to the Irish Sea.

Cranfield Beach is a nearby attraction.

CountyDownDistance16 miles
Nearest TownKilkeelOS Map29
Route TypeHillRoute ShapeCircular
AONBMournesGrid Ref (Start)J299147
Public RoadsOn Public RoadGrid Ref (End)J299147


Country roads

Point of Interest

Hanna's Close, Silent Valley, Longstone

Route Description

Head east out of the square over the bridge and up the hill onto Newcastle Street. The ancient ruined church on your right as you enter Newcastle Street gives the town its name, Kilkeel (the Church of the Narrow Place). There are some very interesting gravestones in the surrounding graveyard.

After about 0.5 miles turn left onto Mill Road and then turn on to the first right, the Aughnahoory Road. Hanna's Close is about 1.25 miles along this road down a lane on the right and is well worth a visit. Continue north on the Aughnahoory Road until you come to a T-junction with the Leitrim Road and turn right onto the Leitrim Road. Follow this road until you come to a T-junction. Turn right onto the Head Road and continue onto the Silent Valley. If you wish you can park your bicycle at the security booth at the entrance barrier and walk up into the valley (about 0.5 mile). Leaving the Silent Valley, turn left, the road climbs steeply and at the top of this hill to 'gather your wind' cross over to the other side of the road and look down over the unique 'stone wall' landscape so familiar to this area. Continue along the Head Road with its panoramic views of the mountains, coastal plain and sea. You cross a small bridge on a 'S' bend over the Forks River, about 100 metres further on carefully cross the road and view one of the magnificent panoramas of the Mournes.

Continue along the Head Road until you get to a small car park on your left. Turn right onto the Old Town Road and continue downhill to the crossroads. Turn right onto the Longstone Road and after about 0.5 miles you will see the 'Standing Stone' on your right in the middle of a field. At the end of this road there is a T-junction, turn left onto the Ballyveaghmore Road and follow this road until you come to another T-junction and turn right onto the Ballyveaghbeg Road and then after only about 50 metres turn left onto the Mission Road. Turn left onto the first road on your left, the Brackenagh Quarter Road (just before you come to Brackenagh School).

After about 1 mile, turn left onto Anthony's Road. This route takes you through gentle rural countryside and after about 1.25 miles, at a T-junction turn right onto the Council Road, almost immediately, at another T-junction, turn left onto the Carginagh Road. This will take you back to the outskirts of the town and at the next T-junction turn right onto the Newcastle Road which will take you back to the lower square in the town centre of Kilkeel.

Getting to the Start

The Lower Square is situated in the centre of Kilkeel Town where there is also a car park.


After leaving the town of Kilkeel all roads are country roads until approaching the end of the cycle again.


You can purchase refreshments before leaving in Kilkeel. There are toilets situated in the Square which is the starting point. There is also a coffee shop at the Silent Valley opened during high season.

Information for People with a Disability

This route has accessible toilet facilities.

It is a clear route with no obstacles although some of the country roads can be quite busy at times.

Available Publication

Cycling in Newry & Mourne

Newry Tourist Information Centre Tel: 028 3031 3170


Nearest cycling hire shops:- Quinn Cycles Tel: 028 4176 2654

Cycle Hire

Life Adventure Centre Castlewellan
Life Adventure Centre, Grange Courtyard, Forest Park, Castlewellan
Phone: +44 (0)2843770714


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