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ASCENT – European upland areas

ASCENT – European upland areas

ASCENT, a new innovative project to collectively address the environmental challenges facing seven northern European upland areas, is a three year project and involves Donegal County Council as lead partner, working collaboratively with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and the Mourne Heritage Trust in Northern Ireland, Metsähallitus Park and Wildlife in Finland, Hordaland County Council in Norway, and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland along with associated partners including Údarás na Gaeltachta, Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust, Mossfellsbær Municipality and Skaftárhreppur.

Unregulated access to upland sites and natural erosion has meant that some areas of natural beauty have experienced degradation, loss of unique bio-diversity and bio-resources.  In response, the ASCENT project, an acronym for ‘Apply Skills and Conserve our Environment with New Tools’ sets out to develop management plans and implement innovative measures that will address future economic and environmental sustainability

The total budget for this project in Newry, Mourne and Down is €311,000

Project Updates

Newry, Mourne and Down set to host international ASCENT Partners

Update published on: March 8, 2018


Every six months all the members of the ASCENT programme, with partners from five European countries, come together to review completed work and plan out the next six months; this April it’s South Armagh and the Mournes turn to play host. The partners will first stay with Padraig and Sharon Carragher at Bluebell Lane, and Mary Toal at Tí Chulainn, before they move on to David Maginn’s, Tory Bush Cottages in the Mournes.


Overall the ASCENT project is delivering at lightning speed:

  • habitat surveys have been carried out on Slieve Gullion and Slieve Donard;
  • a Strategic Path Review on Slieve Gullion is now complete;
  • plans have been drawn for Slieve Gullion Path repairs;
  • learning trips to Errigal and the Cuilcagh Boardwalk are finished and;
  • repairs to the Glen River Path and the Mourne Wall have begun.


One of the most significant actions to be carried out in this past six months was an Upland Management Ethics conference and workshop. The conference and workshop were held in November at the Tollymore National Outdoor Centre. It was attended by stakeholders from the ASCENT partner projects, as well as Mountaineering Ireland, Outdoor Recreation NI and representatives from local councils across Ireland, to name a few. The conference covered vital issues within upland recreation, such as the Cuilcagh Boardwalk and the sustainability of current principles of applied conservation.

Welcome to the Spring edition of ASCENT's digital newsletter!

Update published on: March 1, 2018


Check out what our partners are delivering on locally across their upland sites and also how activities are progressing on a multifaceted front, with key focus applied to ‘International Learning and Knowledge Development’, which culminating in the fully booked workshop ‘Managing Upland Paths – are Good Principles Enough’ held in the Tollymore Centre in the shadows of the Mourne Mountains last November.

Click here for the spring edition.

South to North summit trail moves a step closer

Update published on: July 24, 2017


For anyone that has ever sunk up to their oxters in the peat mud on the top of Slieve Gullion, attempting to walk from the south cairn to the lake and beyond, the news that a new trail is a step closer will be welcome.

The existing, undefined track is seriously eroded and forms an unsightly scar on the top of this beautiful mountain. Walking the mountain can be quite risky in poor weather when the deep peat hags or holes loom up unexpectedly out of the mist. Even in dry weather, the worn surface, littered with large boulders, cracks and steep cuts does not make for pleasant walking.

Recently, experts from “Walking the Talk”, a company with many years of experience in designing upland trails, undertook an in-depth survey of the route. Their recommendations include relocating existing boulders to create safe steps and innovative techniques, such as, using sheep’s wool as a base for the new trail. It is hoped work will start in the autumn. Contractors will use modern techniques to reduce damage and disturbance to the mountain, including helicopter flights to bring aggregate to the precise spot it is needed. The end result will be a sustainable, ecologically sound and attractive path, that will safely allow the 31,000 walkers who brave the summit each year, to extend their walks and make the most of this lovely area.


Beginning our ASCENT

Update published on: October 20, 2016


ASCENT, a new innovative project to collectively address the environmental challenges facing seven northern European upland areas, including peaks in the Ring of Gullion and the Mournes was officially launched by the Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Terence Slowey on Thursday, the 20th of October, 2016.

Read the full story here – Beginning our ASCENT.

Lottery Funded
NIEA DoE N&M DC Biodiversity

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