The Coast


Viewpoint: Dundrum Castle - Grid Ref. J405368

From ancient rolling sand dunes to rocky cliffs, boulder strewn shorelines to shingle islands, award winning golden beaches to soft, eroding sandy cliffs, the Mourne coastline is a diverse and fascinating collection of differing landscapes.

Key features

• The massive dune systems of Murlough and Ballykinler, which have formed across the wide, shallow, Dundrum Bay.
• Dundrum Inner Bay connected to the sea by a fast flowing tidal channel which covers its mud and sand flats twice a day, a vital stop-off point for migrating birds.
• Steep rocky cliffs 'where the mountains sweep down to the sea' around Newcastle and Bloody Bridge.
• Soft, eroding shorelines of dumped glacial material from Glasdrumman to Greencastle, often with steep sandy cliffs.
• The wild, muddy wilderness of Mill Bay, another essential resting and feeding site for migrating and wading birds.
• Carlingford Lough, an ice-deepened fjord, the boulders and pebbles of its shores left by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago.

Special feature - The dynamic coast

The line between land and sea is naturally constantly changing with new land developing and other areas being gradually washed away. The soft glacial deposits of the Mourne coast are particularly vulnerable to this erosion, especially noticeable in the sandy cliffs at Kilkeel. From Annalong to Greencastle there is evidence that this process has been happening for a long time. The boulders on the beach have dropped from the sandy cliffs, not been brought by the sea.

The sea can also build parts of the coast, for example small dunes developing south of Kilkeel and the massive dunes at Murlough and Ballykinler.

Man however makes considerable efforts to 'fix' the coastline, evident where sea walls and rock armouring have been constructed. The soft sandy soils are often exploited for recreation, much of the Mourne coast characterised by caravan parks, golf courses and rock armoured holiday cottages.


Landscape landscapes Other Landscapes
  1. High Mourne Mountains
  2. Mourne Plain
  3. Slieve Roosley
  4. Slieve Croob
  5. The Drumlin Landscape
  6. Mourne Coast