Hen, Cock and Pigeon Rock

If you’re new to the blog, here’s a little fact to start: I LOVE HIKING! If you’ve read the blog, and follow me on instagram, you’ll probably already know that, and feeling like I’m stating the blatantly obvious. Sorrryyy!

But what I love even more is that Northern Ireland has some absolutely cracking places to hike within such easy reach, that it would be wrong not to visit so often. Over the years living here, I have not made the most of what’s on offer. It is only recently that I have started to venture out and see the wonders of Ireland.

One recent adventure, took me, my old man (he hates being called that!) and of course Jackson, to enjoy Hen, Cock and Pigeon Rock. And yes, if you are immature like me then it’s OK to have a chuckle at the name!

The Mourne Mountains are a range of mountains in Co. Down, near the beautiful seaside town; Newcastle. They are home to some mighty mountains, including the tallest in the country – Slieve Donard (but that story is for another day!). So just after an hour drive, we were at the mountains ready to go.

THE WALK

Hen, Cock and Pigeon Rock are three smaller mountains located in the North West region of the Mournes. The walk starts at the Sandbank Car Park (also known as Hen Mountain car park – put this in your SatNav and you’ll find your way). The car park can be a little tricky to find, seeing as it is located to the side of a small country road, but follow your map and you should be fine. My SatNav led us there right the first time!

The walk begins by following a small track opposite the car park, alongside a small bungalow. Follow the farmers track until you reach a gate at the base of the mountains. You will want to head through this gate. From here the path can come a little unclear, as my Dad and I soon became aware. There is a clear track, which has been set by farmers tractors through the middle of the valley but this will kind of take you through the route backwards.

Once through the gate, bare left and follow a trampled path up the side of Hen Mountain. Our first mistake was that we did not notice this route. We stuck to the Farmers Track and ended up skirting round the side of the mountain rather than over it! We quickly noticed the mistake, and began to climb up an unused and rather steep side of the mountain to correct our mistake.

You will notice signs here that warn you to keep your dogs on the lead. You will see in certain photos that Jackson is off the lead; however we only did this in places where we could clearly see no sheep or other herds of animals around. Just be careful, it is never wise to do it if you can’t control your dog, the last thing you want is a farmer pointing his gun in your direction.

Reaching the top of Hen Mountain, we got to enjoy the first views of the surrounding area. Due to the weather we were lucky enough to see all the way across to Belfast!

AND ON TO COCK MOUNTAIN…

The route across to Cock Mountain is again a little unclear. We got a little muddled at first, but eventually found a well worn track wiggling around the back of Hen Mountain leading back down into the valley and up the side of Cock Mountain. The climb up the side is very steep! We had to take several breaks to catch our breath (don’t be scared to do the same).

Lemon Sherbets are the best! Dad always knows exactly what snacks to pack for a hike – I should bring him along more often. I think I was practically half lemon after this walk I ate so many during the hike. I also discovered that Jackson too is a massive fan of lemon sherbets… although he does not handle the sugar rush well!

The top of Cock Mountain is the perfect place to stop for lunch. Sitting below the rocky top to shelter from the wind, Dad and I enjoyed the best lunch of ham sandwiches, avocado and flask flavoured tea! YUM!

Spelga Dam Reservoir sits below you in the valley to the East. This one the best places to view the reservoir from a height.

THE BOG

The descent south from Cock Mountain takes you across some flat and extremely boggy ground in the direction of Pigeon Rock. Now, when I say boggy, I mean boggy! Take one wrong step, and bang you’re up to your knee in slushy mud. So don’t forget your armbands for this walk (or hiking boots!)

Although it was a bit like soaking your feet in a warm bath, walking the rest of the route in soggy boots wasn’t the most fun of activities but I always have a smile on my face.

The route continues to the top of Pigeon Rock where you should meet ‘Batts Wall’. The route gets easier to follow at this point. We walked in a south westerly direction until we reached the col between Pigeon Rock and Slieve Moughanmore (basically like the dip between the two mountains). From here we recognised the farmers’ track we started the walk on, and began to follow the road back to the car.

I love the feeling of reaching the car after a long days hiking! It’s like the rainbow at the end of the storm. Although I do enjoy the walking, there is nothing more relieving than being able to sit down in the car boot and finally take the boots off your aching feet.

Even Jackson who has surplus amounts of energy, loves finally being able to lie down in the boot for a nap.

At the end of the walk the sun was starting to set, shining golden light down the valley. We enjoyed one final cup of tea, a kit kat and some fresh socks before hitting the road back home.

The perfect hike.

If you want any more advice, have any questions then feel free to get in touch with me! Also check out the WalkNI website, they’ll show you all the best walks and routes in Northern Ireland.


I am constantly making an adventure out of life, and looking for a new story around every corner. You can follow all my adventures here on the blog, subscribe to get a little email each time I post so you can travel along with me. Also, follow of me on my Instagram and Facebook for the latest news and photos.

Inspiring women and showing them that they have the ability to do what they want in the world, is the main aim of this blog. It is the reason I document my adventures and travel stories. I want to show women and girls, that the world is their oyster. Just go out, and grab from it what you want.

A x

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