Monday, 1 November 2010

The Mourne Wall pt1

I had been promising myself a couple days in the Mourne’s just taking time to enjoy the days and spend some time taking photo’s, and with a clear weather forecast and nothing better to be doing I took myself away to have a wee saunter along the Mourne Wall.

Like usual timings at my end kept on slipping and before long it was 16:00 hrs and I was still to jump on the train to Belfast. If everything ran smoothly I could be in Newcastle for half 6, just in time for last light. Translink had decided this was far too easy, so after sitting between stations for twenty minutes and thus missing my connecting bus, I eventually reached Gt Victoria St bus station to commence another half hour of waiting. By the time I arrived in Newcastle the sun had set long a go and the street lights were now stealing the attention from the starry night.

Leaving the metropolis that is Newcastle, after a suitably greasy send off courtesy of John Macs traditional fish and chips, a short walk into Donard Wood was made via head torch. The Glen River provided the soundtrack for the ascent, and the roots of numerous ancient trees that cross the uphill path provided plenty of interest, especially under torch light.

After a quick re-acquaintance with the Laser Comp (it really has been a long time) on a not so level part of the forest, and filling up the platypus it was time for getting the swede down with a little bit of Zane Lowe to keep me company.

At first light I ventured out of my tent to see if there was any scope for getting a couple of photo’s looking down to Newcastle under the morning sun, but the morning mist which is so often prevalent in the Mournes put an end to that idea. Oh well, time spent in the sleeping bag is always time spent well!

Coffee on the go

Coffee, Pains au chocolat and some Chris Moyles and then it was time to get moving.

Claggy morning, leaving Donard Wood

The morning was still looking rather drab but it was dry and with a good breeze around there was a good chance that the cloud would clear. Indeed, just before starting the real climb to the Donard/Commedagh saddle views of the mountains came and went as the cloud moved across the peaks.

Dropping the ruck and setting up the tripod for a long exposure (with the help of some welding glass) I waited for the cloud to lift a bit more, but unfortunately as is often the case, it instead decided to descend.

Glen River looking up to the saddle

Now you see me…

Glen River looking up to the saddle (not that you can see it)

Now you don’t.

Just to add insult to injury, the cloud opened up just after I packed up and started moving off again, just one of those days I suppose.

View towalds the Commedagh/Donard saddle

on the up

Looking back down, everything below 300 metres was wrapped in cloud, anybody down there must have thought the hills to be a rotten place, but it couldn’t have been further from the truth. Above the clouds it certainly didn’t look or feel like the end of September!

Looking down at Newcastle

L-R Slieve Binian, Lamagan, Cove and Beg

It was a still and warm ascent to the top of Slieve Donard, and the 3 kilos of camera equipment didn’t make it any easier, the views on the way and those at the top certainly made it worth while though!

View from the Slieve Donard trig point

I had never realised that the trig pillar for Slieve Donard is actually on top of the shelter until climbing on top of it, that's what's in the bottom left corner of the above photo.

Chilling the beans

Taking a breather on Slieve Donard, enjoying watching the clouds move across the peaks. It was somehow reassuring to see everyone else sucking from air from Dungannon when they actually made it up.

Leaving what looked the summit of the world I spent a large remainder of the day walking through a haze of thin cloud which eliminated the chance of anything overly impressive being done with the camera, just as well I like dead weight.

misty forest

Parts of the Mourne’s, like most ranges, are littered with run down cottages in rather idyllic settings, if not also rather inaccessible. Obviously not so good from some points of view, but would make for a lovely retreat for the outdoor enthusiast. I would love for these to be opened up in the same way as the Scottish bothies are, but some how don’t think they would survive long before being vandalised.

Big chain

Big ole chain to help you cross the Shimna River.

Analong valley

Looking up the Analong Valley.

After reaching Carrick Big I decided to leave the Mourne Wall for a bit and followed a rather rough track to the top of Analong Forest before climbing the the East face of Slieve Binian, and the thick cloud that had formed around it. I now followed another stone wall, crossing it where it was broken to utilise the best trail and filling the platypus from the stream which flowed beside it.

By this stage the legs were telling me that they would like some rest in the near future and my guts were telling me they’d like something more substantial than caramel bars. Thankfully there wouldn’t be too much walking left in the day.

Mournes cloud inversion

Climbing out of the cloud must be one of the best feelings in the hills, especially seeing that it happens so rarely with only 800 metres to play with over here. Definitely makes it worth the sweat.

It was getting dark fast and my aim of camping in daylight was quickly becoming unattainable, having only been on Binnian once I didn’t fancy picking a pitch in the dark so thrashed on up the hill as fast as my legs would take me.

Mournes cloud invesrion - sunset

Cloud inversions rock!

The orange glow that now ordained the cloud around me told me that sun would be setting very soon, so I decided to stop busting my balls and just enjoy what was around me, I had torches with me for a reason, even if I really hadn’t planned on making camp for the second night in a row with them.

I finally reached the summit of Binnian and after dumping the pack and climbing the tor I enjoyed the very last of the sunset and organised the rendezvous with Jen the next day. Incidentally it was the first bit of phone signal I had achieved since leaving Donard.

Leaving the tor behind and donning my trusty Petzl headtorch I wondered across to where I had imagined myself to camping, and thankfully it wasn’t too bad a spot. Sat between two large masts of granite, one of which saved me from most of the wind, and on a relatively flat piece of ground I threw up the laser comp, deploying all the guys incase the wind changed direction.

Chow time, a bit of Zane Lowe and then it was time to zip up the time machine and wait for the next day.

Part two can be found -->>HERE<<--

4 comment(s) so far, add your thoughts -->>here<<--:

Mac E said...

Hi Keith, I was going to say you'd got some good shots there but to be honest they're all good. I do like the 4th down though, the muted colours and the use of a slow shutter speed make it just right.

I'll have to get down again as the ground is pretty wet up here in the Antrim Hills.


sbrt said...

You are a cloud inversion magnet.

Simon said...

Hey Keith,

it's interesting that you cut across the top of Annalong Wood. I'd tried to follow the wall in the opposite direction (i.e. coming from Binnian) and it is actually impossible (in a practical sense anyway) to follow it across the the Annalong Valley. I was wondering what the best way of doing this stretch was - long the top of the wood, or along the road!

MATHEW said...

My wife and I love the 4th down, but muted colors and with a slow shutter speed to be fair. Binnie was only at times does not make sense to choose a shot in the dark so badly beaten to the ground as quickly as possible.The good thing about our trail is that we are packed with our equiptments. We have our best camping tents, flash lights and other trailing gadgets since we are lost, then we have to sleep for one night out in the middle of nowhere.

Best wishes