In Co. Antrim, it’s a sight which far too many of us take for granted - the beautiful, rugged scenery of our uplands and especially the majestic Slemish.
Historically called Slieve Mish,from the Irish Sliabh Mis the mountain sits on the high ground to the east of Ballymena, in the townland of Carnstroan.
Tradition holds that Saint Patrick, enslaved as a youth, was brought to this area and tended sheep on Slemish, and that during this time he found God. Modern historians remain to be convinced of this story but the mount is the subject of an annual pilgrimage on St. Patrick’s Day.
Slemish is the remains of the plug of an extinct volcano. Its distinctive appearance, with upper reaches whichare very steep and rugged, in contrast to the tidy fields on its lower westward-facing slopes and the relatively flat bogland to the east, causes it to dominate the landscape for miles around.
Slemish is within an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and, therefore, helps to protect and manage the fragile animal and plant communities that inhabit its slopes. An ideal location for bird watchers, large black ravens, buzzards, wheatears and meadow pipits can be seen regularly.
Slemish Mountain is open year-round. The one and a half kilometre round walk to the summit and back takes approximately one hour in good weather. Excellent views can be had of the Antrim and Scottish coasts to the east. Ballymena town, Lough Neagh and the Sperrin Mountains are all normally visible to the west whilst the Bann Valley and the higher summits of the Antrim Hills can be seen to the North. The 180 metre climb is steep and rocky. The path can become very slippery in wet weather so care should be taken. As the weather in Co. Antrim can change very rapidly, please be equipped with good waterproofs and strong footwear. Large parking facility with interpretation boards and washrooms onsite.