Three days in the Mournes

My son and I travelled from Derry last weekend to enjoy three days of walking and camping through the heart of the high Mournes.
The plan was to enjoy a few leisurely days in beautiful country, with plenty of time at camp to relax with hot chocolate :D.

Day 1. Meelmore Lodge to Lough Shannagh (via Pollaphuca)
Day 2. Lough Shannagh to the Annalong Valley (via Ben Crom Reservoir and Percy Bysshe Cave)
Day 3. Annalong Valley back to to Meelmore lodge (via the Brandy Pad).

The Lough Shannagh pitch on Friday night was idyllic. It kept dry with a gentle breeze to keep the midges at bay. What a view across to Slieve Binnian! It was disappointing to see a fair bit of rubbish about but I guess this must be a well used spot. I brought out what I could given that I knew I would be carrying it for 2 more days. We didn’t see a soul all evening and the peace was glorious. It reminded me of more remote camps in Donegal and in Scotland.

On day 2 we countoured slowly around Doan and Ben Crom. This was to be a tricky part of the walk. There were loads of deep holes and tussocks of grass to catch us out with our heavy packs. Finally we regained the faint path down to Ben Crom reservoir. The steep climb on the other side of the reservoir was much more pleasant than the previous rough ground and we flew up to the coll in quick time.

Percy Bysshe cave was very interesting and my son really enjoyed this part of our trip. The squeeze through to the 3rd chamber was pretty claustrophobic. The ledge into the 2nd chamber required a bit more ingenuity to overcome, especially in reverse. 😀 We also took a dander up into Cove Cave. We got as far as the choke point but we found it quite steep so we left the upper chamber for another day.

Saturday night in the Annalong Valley was quite exciting in the gale force gusts. Our budget Coleman Cobra 3 just about survived the pummeling , with just a slight bend on the main pole come the morning. Some Duke of Edinburgh lads sleeping in Vango tents near to us awoke with their tent poles twisted like spaghetti, although I suspect this was due to a lack of care over the guy-lines. One funny incident occurred at bedtime as we brushed our teeth near the river. A lad jumped out of the DoE tent and pissed straight into the river just upstream from us. Needless to say we didn’t rinse the toothbrushes. I don’t think he even realised we were there. 😮

The wind continued strong on Sunday morning but this made for some excellent photography with the light patterns of sunshine and shade changing rapidly. We stopped for a while on the Brandy Pad overlooking Ben Crom Reservoir and watched as the scene changed by the second. It wasn’t long before the perfect light arrived and I managed to catch it on camera. Then on to Hare’s gap and Meelmore for a well deserved cuppa and a scone in the cafe.

The Mournes reminded me very much of walks on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. The interesting granite landscape and the compact, accessible nature of the mountains makes it a pleasure to walk. It is such a great place to photograph too as there are brilliant and unique views around every corner.

Anyway, here’s a few of the shots from the weekend

Lough Shannagh Camp on Day1

Lough Shannagh Camp on Day1

Inside the 2nd chamber of the Percy Bysshe Cave

Inside the 2nd chamber of the Percy Bysshe Cave

A cool and windy evening half way up the Annalong Valley. Shortly before the DoE lads arrived.

A cool and windy evening half way up the Annalong Valley. Shortly before the DoE lads arrived.

The morning after the storm. The sun is out and we are making our way up to the Brandy Pad.

The morning after the storm. The sun is out and we are making our way up to the Brandy Pad.

The big boulder at the top of Annalong Valley

The big boulder at the top of Annalong Valley

Ben Crom Reservoir from the Brandy Pad. Views changing by the minute.

Ben Crom Reservoir from the Brandy Pad. Views changing by the minute.

With thanks to andymcinroy. Original post here.

You can buy photographs by Andy McInroy here.

This entry was posted in Trip Reviews.

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