Well, what can I say. The weather gods have so far looked kindly on us when hill climbing and again don’t disappoint; although it is a tad windy and we get a quick shower atop Slieve Donard at 850m.
In Northern Ireland’s Mourne Mountains this is the final highest country peak of the British Isles we have to conquer; but the lowest of the lot. We would be making our way across the range for bonus points having camped the other side to the peak.
Whilst other campers went about repairing their oversized tent palaces from the night’s battering of wind we set off up onto the sunny lower slopes just gone 10:00.
Avoiding the popular Hare’s Gap route we snacked on the way up and climb to the Mourne Wall. This wall marks the inner watershed which was purchased by Belfast Water at the turn of the C20th. ‘Tad windy’ is an understatement. It was the windiest it had been on any of the peaks we’d done. It whistled through the stonewall producing an eerie sound as we sheltered in its lee. We followed it across several other peaks to our goal.
It is rather stunning up here with its stark difference either side. To the south we have mountain streams nestled in amongst the peaks. North the mountains simply drop away to the coast with views as far as the clouds are willing to divulge.
Arriving at Slieve Donard it gets a bit busier as the route up from Newcastle is the ‘popular’ route. It suffers from those who decide to do it in flip-flops…
The top welcomes us just before the clouds darken. We rush to get a picture then shelter behind the wall as a heavy shower begins. It is spectacular, but so are the rest of the Mournes. We do a U-turn, head back to flip-flop junction then drop south and follow the contours of the hills; the wind funnels up the valleys.
We traverse to Hare’s Gap for an easy return. The sun is back out. The views are great. Slieve Donard done. More mountains are required for the future. Not necessarily the highest, but good for hiking!