High in the Mourne Mountains is the body of water which helps supply most of County Down, parts of other counties and most of Belfast.
The Silent Valley Reservoir, which we’re approaching from the east, was created in the 1920s and remains one of the biggest engineering schemes Northern Ireland has ever known.
To give you some idea of the scale of the project, two thousand men worked here for ten years. The site had its own hospital, police station and cinema. It even had its own power station, and boasted the first street lighting in Ireland.
Together with its sister reservoir Ben Crom, Silent Valley is capable of supplying 10 million gallons each day. The Mournes were chosen for the project mainly because of the purity of the water in the area, and its plentiful supply. More of it falls from the sky here than virtually anywhere else in Northern Ireland.
It’s often said that the mountains were born in fire, shaped by ice and finally cooled by rain.
The summit of Slieve Bearnagh, which features a number of granite tors, takes us to another breathtaking construction – the Mourne Wall.
The Mourne Wall, a wall constructed to enclose a reservoir’s catchment area in the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland. It was built between 1904 and 1922 by the Belfast Water Commissioners to enclose the water catchment in the Mournes. This helped keep out livestock which kees the land uncontanamated.
Crossing some of the highest mountain peaks, its purpose was to surround the catchment area of the reservoirs.
It stands eight feet high on average and is three feet wide. It runs for 22 miles and took 18 years to build.
Among the highest points reached by the wall is the summit of Slieve Commedagh, the second tallest mountain in the Mournes after Slieve Donard.
It’s no exaggeration to say, as many do, that the Mourne wall stands as a monument to the skill of those who built it.