Silent Valley

"Everything originated in the Water and everything is sustained by the Water" (Goethe)

Ben Crom - Silent ValleyThe Silent Valley is a Mountain Park situated in the high Mournes and features a dam ringed by dramatic Mountain panoramas and the famous Mourne wall located in the U-shaped valley of the Kilkeel river.

Mountain Park

The 200 acre site below the reservoir is a combination of mountain, moorland and woodlands making it an ideal setting for flora and fauna.

The Silent Valley is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Park is surrounded with breathtaking countryside, to the east Craggy Binnian, to the west the Cliffs of Slievenag Lough, and to the north Doon and Ben Crom.

Facilities

The park is open all year round

November- March from 10am-4pm
April to October 10am- 6.30pm

The information centre and cafe are housed in two old colonial style bungalows, the last remnants of the construction period. The information centre tells the story of the Silent Valley via the exhibition. The cafe has impressive views over the mountain-park and is opened at 11.00am to 5.30pm at weekends April to September including bank holidays

The seminar complex is fully equipped with up-to-date facilities, thus providing a distinct location for conferences. The complex is for hire all year around and can be booked via the Water Service’s administration department.

At the mountain park an Ulsterbus, shuttle bus service, operates to/from Ben Crom to/from the car park. This service is available at weekends during the months of May, June and September and daily in July and August only.

Admission Charges

Car £4.50
Minibus £11.00
Coach £27.00
Motorcycle £2.00
Pedestrian - Adult £1.60
Pedestrian - Child £0.60
Annual Permit - Car £20.00
Annual Permit - School Bus £50.00

For further Information Contact: Nothern Ireland Water, Customer Service Department on 08457440088.

Ulster Bus operate scheduled services to the park in the summer: Ring 028 9066 66 30

Background information which may be of use

At the turn of the 19th century water supplies in Belfast were low, this was due to Belfast’s growing population and sudden industrialisation. To relieve this growing problem two upland water catchments were developed, however these catchments were unable to sustain water supplies for the area.

So with commendable foresight, the commissioners decided to carry out investigations with the aim of discovering, "a new sustainable area from which a plentiful supply of pure water might be obtained", to take them into the 20th century.

To find this source of water a distinguished local civil engineer, Mr Luke Livingstone McCassey was appointed. Five likely sites were surveyed in Down and Antrim. Following his investigations McCassey favoured the Mournes.

The Mournes were chosen primarily for their natural supply of pure water, which was a result of rainfall in the area. The area was also free from pollution and industry, which is of paramount importance when looking for a water source.

When the water commissioners identified the high Mournes as a suitable source for providing clean water, to an ever-expanding Belfast. Their plans included a wall to surround the 9000 acre, catchment area. The wall is now known as the Mourne Wall and it is said to be, "a monument to the skill of the men who built it".

The Mourne wall stands up to 8 feet high on average and it is 3 feet wide. The wall stretches for 22 miles and runs over the highest peaks in the Mournes. Work began in 1904 and finished in 1922 taking a total of 18 years to build.

The proposed area was capable of supplying 30 million gallons of water per day, as there wasn’t a need for so much water the scheme was divided into 3 stages.

The first stage was to divert the water from the Kilkeel and Annalong rivers through pipes to a new reservoir near carryduff. These two rivers would be able to supply 10 million gallons of water per day.

The second stage was to build a storage reservoir across the Kilkeel River. Then pipes were to be laid to supply another 10 million gallons of water per day.

The third stage was to build a second storage reservoir in Annalong to impound the Annalong River.