Slieve Binnian – Summit Camp

A few weeks ago I headed to attempt on summit camp on Slieve Binnian.  Having planned the same on a few previous occasions only for the weather to conspire against me, I was determined to achieve it this time.  However with forecasts of wind speeds up to 35mph and gusts of even higher it was looking like a bit of deja-vu.

Heading off from Carricklittle, Rumblebum another mate and me had decided to take a route that included Slieve Binnian East Top.  This area was the scene of extensive quarrying in the past and there is a large network of quarry tracks and old quarry huts to investigate.  These are not entirely obvious from the track below.

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Thick cloud was dominating all the other summits around but Binnian remained clear for now.  Surely this wouldn’t last.

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Some of the quarry huts are silhouetted against the skyline.

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After a bit of look around the various huts and with a few bivvy spots banked for future reference we proceeded up to the summit of the east top.  The views all over the Kingdom of Mourne and out to sea were fantastic, considering the weather.  On a clear day this would be the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon.  Cloud was now coming and going and the main summit torrs of Slieve Binnian provided a dramatic background display.

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Upon reaching the summit proper we felt the full force of the north-easterly wind.  With the protection offered by the torrs we could probably have dealt with southerly, south-westerly, north-westerly, northerly….but north easterly was a tough one.  Tent damage was likely.  I have found this to be the windiest summit in the Mournes, I honestly don’t think I have been up there without it blowing a gust.

It was time for plan B, we moved along the spine of the mountain to the Back Castles checking along the way for suitable protection from the wind.  We eventually came upon the wall that climbs up from the Annalong Valley crossing the main ridge of the mountain before disappearing down into the Silent Valley.  The wall was at a perfect angle for giving protection from the wind so after dropping 20 or so metres down we set up camp for the night.

We climbed back up to the torrs and found a great place to have dinner and a cuppa whilst overlooking the twinkling lights of Cranfield and Carlingford in the distance.  Whilst we sat and watched life go on way down below I began to wonder if any of the folk down there were casting a glance up at the mountains and wondering if anyone was up here.

Dinner inside our bellies and a fire log on – tonight was my night on Binnian!

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After a restful night we awoke to a bit of a grubby misty morning.  Despite there being no view, it was warm and still.  Unfortunately though we spent the next hour looking for a lost compass, packing unpacking and packing again, and retracing the many steps from the night before, all around the Back Castles and the summit torr.  Nothing turned up.  Wick, it had now turned into the price of a B&B for the night.

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With our one remaining compass we took advantage of the poor visibility to practice our navigational skills, looking for features down around Binnian Lough and Douglas Crag.  We came across this huge boulder near Binnian Lough, made all the more impressive by it’s sudden appearance out of the mist.  Without a view to distract, the atmosphere around Binnian Lough was serene with birdsong being the only audible noise.

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Continuing the walk, we followed a river down to meet Annalong Wood, then along the wood’s northern boundary until we met the Annalong River.  The river then led us downstream to the weir at the start of the Binnian tunnel.  To complete the walk we followed the forest track for a while before leaving the track and taking a bee-line through the woods and across ‘open’ ground to rejoin the Carrick Little track.  This proved to be very difficult ground.  What seemed like open ground was a mixture of very deep grass and rotting fallen trees.  Energy sapping stuff.  To make matters worse a prominent track marked on the map didn’t exist on the ground.  It was a welcome relief to the legs to eventually meet the main track again where progress was steady back to the car park.

Oh and that compass? Well didn’t it just turn up in a trouser pocket, about 5 minutes from the car.  Frustrated? No. Just big grinning faces all round.

It was a fantastic trip with a good mix of exploring new places, getting off the beaten track and all the banter of a summit camp.

Original post is here. With thanks to WhoRya.

This entry was posted in Trip Reviews.

One Response to Slieve Binnian – Summit Camp

  1. Emmett says:

    Hi, I realize this was almost a year ago so the memory may be a little on the misty side.. I stumbled across this post as im starting to plan my first trip up Binnan with a camp potentially either at Ben Crom reservoir or Blue Lough, i guess depending on how much further i want to go after coming back down the other side. Have you an estimate on time it took to reach the summit? I know it all depends on the person, but ball park figure? Thanks, enjoyed the post.

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