Cove Cave Trip Review

Cove Cave is one of the more talked about places of interest in the Mournes and as yet I’d never been there but after seeing it visited by Darryl Grimason on the BBC TV program “Off The Beaten Track” I decided it needed pushed up the list. It’s a 6 mile round trip, starting at Carrick Little Car Park walk up the Annalong Valley to the edge of the forest and follow the path on the right to the foot of the steep hill the Cave is on.

Cove Cave and the surrounding area

Late as usual, we didn’t manage to start walking until after 230pm on a dull but dry Saturday afternoon. Carrick Little was extremely busy so we parked by the road and legged it off up the lane. After a brief sprint back down for a forgotten mobile we were soon up the farmers lane to the gate on the Mourne Wall with the Annalong Valley in the distance. The area had been ravaged by fires over the last few months and the aftermath was evident everywhere. Huge patches of trees were blackened and fallen and the heather up the slopes of Slieve Binnian was visibly scorched. We walked the length of the Wood reaching the fork in the track by Douglas Crag and followed the path right with the towering slopes of Slievelamagan ahead. The day had brightened and we quickly went from wondering if waterproof trousers might be needed to rueing not bringing suntan lotion. With bright blue skies it wasn’t long before we could see the big black spot of the caves in the distance on the slopes of Lower Cove and as the path started to gently rise we could see other hikers loitering around its entrance.

The view from Cove Cave

It wasn’t long before we were below and scrambled up the last steep slope to the base of the cave. Not having been here before it was hard to know what to expect and once we could see the size of the actual cave it was a shade underwhelming. The opening is large but the inside shallow and strewn with mossy boulders leading steeply up to a small opening at the back through which you can see daylight. To actually get into the cave takes a climb up a near vertical section of rock about a meter high and the floor of the cave is steep right to the back. I knew that the small hole at the rear lead through a tight passage to a plateau above the cave but being there with kids I didn’t want to do anything dangerous so elected to snap a few pics and retire to the entrance.

Cove Cave from a distance

Being above the valley the views were spectactular so we had a relaxing coffee and enjoyed the vista for a while before donning our rucksacks and heading for home. We could have picked numerous different routes back down the valley to the car but the hour was late and everyone was getting hungry for dinner so we just retraced our steps. It wasn’t long before we were back by the forest, then down the lane to the car to remove the hiking boots and massage some life back into our feet.

Slievelamagan from the Annalong Valley

Cove Cave will definitely be on my list of places for an overnight bivvy and is is a must for anyone wanting to check off the most popular spots in the Mournes. Just be sure and go in a group for safety if you fancy climbing up through the back of the cave!

A burned area of Annalong Wood

The climb into the cave

The cave entrance

This entry was posted in Trip Reviews.

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