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Hi there, I’m Michael.

I’m up in the Mourne Mountains most weeks, especially over the summer and autumn.

I love spending time up there - the mountains never cease to impress me; sometimes they almost overwhelm me with their sheer beauty. 

Being closer to them was a big part in the decision to move out of the city.


Image: Discover NI

Image: Discover NI


So when I kept hearing about rock pools somewhere up in the Mournes near the Annalong woods, I instantly loved the idea of taking a cold water plunge after a good hike. 

I got some directions and headed off with my (bonkers) dog, Teddy.

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The village of Annalong is about 15 minutes drive outside of Newcastle, County Down. Simply head south along the Mourne Coastal Route in the direction of Kilkeel.

From Annalong, take the road signposted for Silent Valley to Carrick Little Car Park. From here, head up the dirt path to the gates.


Make sure to follow the path that takes you through the valley - you will see a small wooded area ahead with a path running alongside. Once you get to the very end of the tree line (don’t go down the natural gap there), turn right and again follow the tree line.

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Keep going until you come to a river, you will pass one very small rock pool - go a little further until you see the larger one with lots of boulders and rocks.

Follow this upstream and you will find plenty of rock pools and small water falls to explore.


True to form though, we got lost after thinking I knew a shortcut - hence the detailed directions! 

Thankfully it was only a short while before we were back on the right path…eventually stumbling upon the rock pools.


This stretch of river had several pools and a few mini waterfalls.

Teddy was right in there, no hesitation - whereas I slowly made my way in, emitting a few small screams as did.

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Once in though, it was incredible. I kept saying to myself "I’m swimming in a rock pool, in the mountains, under a blue sky!".


It’s moments like this that truly stay with you.

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Heading further upstream leads to another small pool fed from a small waterfall. We made our way into that and the one thing I remember in particular was the noise.

It was like being in a mini amphitheatre – the noise of the water echoing all round.

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As you’re also slightly higher up, you have unobstructed views of the valley below, leading down to the Irish Sea.  Again, just incredible. 

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My friends always laugh at me because I can't take a simple walk without having some sort of existential joyful experience - but when you head off into the Mournes it's hard not to.

On the route back down, we came across a field of bog cotton as the sun was setting. The cotton changed from white to pink and finally to gold as the sun went below the horizon. Amazing.

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Michael Morris is a self taught candle maker, scent blender and entrepreneur - known for creating intriguing scents unlike anything on the market.

Having started his business four years ago, with no investment to date, it has seen steady organic growth and now has stockists all over the world. 

Michael is widely known for his dynamic and authentic use of social media, which he attributes much of the growth of his business to. When Michael isn't making candles, he can be found roaming around the country with his dog Teddy looking for the next scent.

Follow his adventures:





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Thanks to all who entered - the winner drawn at random across all entries on Facebook and Instagram is


(We’ve sent you a message with prize details, Vicki 👍)


Giveaway Terms and Conditions (of which instructions form part)

1. Promotion is run by NI EXPLORER in conjunction with The Bearded Candle Makers.

2. Giveaway open to Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland residents aged 18 years and over, except employees, families, agents or anyone professionally connected with the NI EXPLORER and The Bearded Candle Makers.

3. By entering, you agree to be contacted by the parties involved about the giveaway and for the parties to use the information submitted for any purpose in connection with the promotion.

4. Giveaway starts on Tuesday 16th October 2018 at 5pm and closes on Monday 22nd October 2018 at 11.59am.

5. There is one prize consisting of a Mourne Mountain Heather candle and a Wild Flowers of Donegal candle from The Bearded Candle Makers.

6. Entry to the giveaway is by mentioning on the Facebook or Instagram post which friend you would give one of the candles to.

7. Entrants can enter as many times as they like – winner will be selected at random across all entries on Facebook and Instagram.

8. The winner will be announced on this page. Winner will have 24 hours to accept prize, otherwise a new winner will be drawn.

9. Winners contact details will be passed to The Bearded Candle Makers to arrange collection of the prize.

10. Prize is not transferable and no cash alternatives in whole or in part are available.

11. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook or Instagram. By entering this promotion you understand that you are providing your information to the parties involved and not to Facebook or Instagram. Your information will not be used for any other purpose than to be contacted if you have been chose as the winner.

12. NI EXPLORER and The Bearded Candle Makers reserve the right to vary, alter or terminate this promotion due to unforeseen circumstances. The decision of NI EXPLORER is final and binding and no correspondence shall be entered into.