My Mourne Wall Walk

After much debate and thought, I decided that today would be the day to attempt the Mourne Wall. It is something that I had been thinking about all year but I didnt want to do it before the seven sevens that we were doing for charity in case I hurt myself or it put me off doing it at all. It is only just over 1 year from the first time that i was ever in the Mournes, photography being the main reason a started walking here. Since that time i have probably done 25 decent walks here, starting off with just Donard summit and back, Commedagh summit and back etc and building it up from there. Through this last year, probably because of this site, the Seven Sevens and the Mourne Wall Walk have been on my radar and I have spent a good bit of time reading up on both. I always thought the Wall Walk was one of the toughest walks you could do in the Mournes and was amazed by the accounts of runners like Ian Bailie doing it in 4 hrs, 28 mins!

Myself and my brother had signed up with Cancer Research back in January to do the Seven Sevens to raise funds for them and my wife is due our first baby on Sunday 1st September so the Wall Walk was going to have to fit in round these. I had hoped to do it before the 7 7’s but things didn’t work out and i was afraid of putting myself off it if i attempted the wall and suffered badly. Sunday was kind of my last chance and with the weather looking good and with the wife’s approval, plans were made and my alarm was set for 4am! My 2 dogs, Izzy the Collie and Jess the Lab always come with me on walks and they were funny to watch on Saturday evening as i took all my power tools and any dangerous chemicals out of my van in preparation for going. They know what this means and were doing laps of the van and jumping in and out ready to go. Alarm off at 4am, out the door before 5, had to stop for diesel in Armagh on the way through and was in Carrick Little shortly after 5.45am.

I had a little trouble getting my Viewranger app to get satellite coverage as i started walking hence the small gap in the route trace below but the time was already running so it is correct. Binnian first as the sun was starting to rise, cloud was still covering the top of it and a few other high peaks, at this stage i was already starting to wonder if this was a good idea and thinking about aborting the idea and doing a shorter walk instead. Then a man who must have been close to 70 came running down towards me, he shouted “I’m just a little bit mad” and away he went. made me laugh as i plodded on. Hit the top of Binnian, quick photo down through the cloud and set off straight down the wall. I had never been down this way before and was surprised at how steep the first bit was. We all made it down and i wasn’t long getting over Wee Binnian, Moolieve and approaching Silent Valley.

I was on the inside of the wall at this stage and came down into an area of trees, ferns and thick briars. I struggled on a bit before realising there was a path on the outside of the wall so the dogs had to be threw over and i followed them and it made for a quick walk down to the Dam. Just before 8am at this stage, it was all very quiet except for a few rabbits that me stupid lab thought she could catch even though they had a 300 meter head start. Slievenaglogh next, there was a few really wet bits along the wall heading away from the dam and i got my feet wet here but kept pushing on and got to the summit easily enough. This is another peak i had never been on before and i was surprised at the great views towards Ben Crom Dam. A few more quick shots, an energy bar and i was away heading towards Muck next. There was a large group just packing up camp where you cross the Banns Road, a few quick hellos here and kept going towards Muck. What a complete b*****d of a climb! It just kept going on and on and on and was wet and steep and steep some more. I could really feel my legs protesting for the first time and i eventually reached the summit a dirty wet disheartened sweaty mess.

More doubt was creeping in and as i started on along the wall towards Carn, i was starting to plan an exit strategy and looking towards the col between Binnian and Lamagan trying to work out the best route to there and the van beyond. I really didnt think my legs could get me over the big climbs of Bernagh, Commedagh and Donard but I had to tell myself that this was my last chance to do this walk this year. Kept plodding on anyway stopping on Carn for a 10 min break for sandwiches and plenty of drinks and a quick phone call home to make sure Lyndsey was okay. Slieve Loughshannagh wasn’t too bad, it was here that I again met the man who I had first met on Binnian early in the morning, he proceeded to tell me i was doing it the easy way! This didnt amuse me! He had started at Silent Valley and was running it anti-clockwise.

Meelbeg was another slow plod and Meelmore was ok. At this point my GPS was telling me I had done 11 miles so I was at least half way round in 5 hours, 15 mins. In the run up to this walk I had thought if i could get round in 12 hours I would be doing well and this gave me hope for an even better time. I had a quick chat here with a guy who is hoping to do the organised Wall Walk in 2 weeks time, he was interested in my times and thoughts, and then straight on towards Bernagh. This climb had been on my mind all morning but it didn’t turn out too bad, slow and steady seems to be the best way to approach this.

No hanging about here, another few shots and straight on to Hares Gap quickly followed by Slievenaglogh, Corragh and a stop at the water pipe on Comedagh to refill with water. My legs were quivering at this stage and i was afraid to bend them too much incase they cramped up but with only Donard to go I wasn’t for stopping. The end was almost in sight! It was another long slow plod to the summit though i find the inside of the wall much easier to climb than the outside. The outside was also packed! Ended up using some guys camera to take photos of him and his mates and with a quick explanation of what I was doing, I started the long downhill back to Carrick Little. The clock was only at just under 8 hours, a decent time was on the cards if i could keep the head down and plough on.

The wall seems to go on and on at this point and somewhere along here I should have had another look at my map. I had it in my head that i should go straight on until i hit the road whereas i should really have turned right with the wall and followed it to Dunnywater and then to the road. I had walked too far before I realised I was wrong to turn back so decided to go generally downhill through the forest which was a fight through trees and briars until I came to a small wall and stream, over it and through 2 fields of cows who took a major dislike to the dogs and eventually onto a lane and down to the road. I had to then walk past the entrance to Dunnywater and right back to the van where the clock stopped at 9 hours, 36 minutes. Well pleased but exhausted! Even the dogs looked a bit knackered. Below is my times for all the summits taken from the exif data on the photos i took on each peak and then a few photos.

Carricklittle 5.57
Binnian 6.56am
Wee Binnian 7.20am
Moolieve 7.39am
Silent Valley Dam 7.55am
Slievenaglogh 8.38am
Muck 9.36am
Carn 10.10am
Slieve Loughshannagh 10.28am
Meelbeg 10.52am
Meelmore 11.12am
Bernagh 11.55am
Slievenaglogh 12.33pm
Corragh 12.51pm
Comedagh 1.13pm
Donard 1.51pm
Carricklittle 3.33pm

Total 9.36 hours.

My route and altitudes using the Viewranger app on my phone

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Original post here. With thanks to Phil_b.

This entry was posted in Trip Reviews.

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