From its centre the Ring of Gullion seems almost impenetrable past the rugged hills that surround its lowlands. Within the plain (Maigh) the curving elongate Gullion deceives the eye so that you seem always to be at the centre of a Ring.
The road traveller may note conflicting milepost directions: for example to the left it’s eight miles to Newry; to the right, nine miles to Newry! The northerly route takes you round Gullion on the Camlough side, the other skirts Gullion’s tail at Dromintee.
My advice? Take both roads! You cannot afford to miss either view!
The steep and rocky hills are narrow in width permitting a few winding passages into the secluded basin. The summits about you – Sturgan, Slievenacappel, Mullaghbawn, Slievebrack, Croslieve, Tievecrom, Slievenabolea, FeedeMountain, Anglesey Mountain, Flagstaff, Fathom, Ballymacdermot and Camlough – form the skyline. The hard granite hills were further scoured glacially leaving rocky outcrops, boulder-strewn slopes, rocky ridges and hollows. The mountains on the south-west side around the village of Forkhill are of a different intrusion era and the testimony can be read from the more jagged profile and the varied vegetation of their slopes.
Amid it all Slieve Gullion sits as queen within her empire of Ring and has that remarkable ‘tail’ jutting towards Dromintee. The last retreating glacier some ten thousand years ago dropped this boulder clay in its wake. The mountain dominates over lowlands wrinkled by small streams and rivers flowing quietly south-easterly through gently-sloping and ill-drained land. Carrickcarnon and Kilnasaggart (at the ‘border’ where the main Belfast-Dublin road and rail passes) and Forkhill are the principal passes to the South.
When you turn around to take the northern route (I DID tell you to take BOTH routes!) you will soon come to that seismic fault which, in a more recent age, was scoured out by a passing glacier whose meltwater formed the Crooked Lake (Cam Loch) – a ribbon lake – we still enjoy today (See our recently uploaded panorama!).
This was a mere 10-20,000 years ago. It’s that type of place! You can really believe that that is a very short space of time indeed.
And it is.
‘If Paradise was half as nice….