Slieve Binnian Village Hike

From word of mouth I was aware that there were structures of some sort on the Annalong Valley slopes of Slieve Binnian but I had never seen any solid information describing them. Still, the thought of people erecting buildings on the side of a mountain intrigued me and I reckoned it warranted some investigation. From the numerous paths marked out on the OS map it was clear that something was there and I was fairly sure it would be the similar to the StoneMasons Hut on Slieve Meelmore but only a day in the hills could satisfy my curiosity.

The route from Carrick Little Car Park to Slieve Binnian Village

The route from Carrick Little Car Park to Slieve Binnian Village

Under grey skies on a chilly October morning we left Carrick Little Car Park on the Head Road (link) and wandered up the lane to meet the gated Mourne Wall at the foot of the Annalong Valley. I had been up the Valley dozens of times but on this occasion I made a point of examining Binnian from a distance to see if I could make out anything in the area that we were headed for. As it turns out, as you can see below, rough stone piles are visible from the lane if you know what you are looking for, although without binoculars you can make out no details.

slieve-binnian-view-from-la

Over the last couple of years Slieve Binnian has seen some significant work to create a path from the valley to the summit and then on between the two summit tors. This makes ascending Binnian a much easier task at the same time as cutting down on erosion caused by eager walkers. The going is still steep enough but it didn’t take us long to reach the spot where a dry stone wall whose ownership or meaning has long been lost bisects the Mourne Wall, and a few missing rocks made it easy to clamber over to the other side. Beyond this it got fairly boggy but by sticking close to the wall it was dry enough and after a short walk we reached an area crossed by numerous paths and littered with piles of rock.

You can see more structures down the slope.

The area is covered with big piles of stones and old structures.

We made a beeline for the nearest structure to stop for lunch and hot coffee. It was three simple walls finishing above head height with a small gap to enter through. Inside there was enough room for 3 to stand but it didn’t look big enough for anything but some basic shelter from the elements. We also couldn’t tell if it ever had a roof.

IMG_2751_smallWith some classic Northern Ireland meteorological bad timing the clouds suddenly rolled in and the rain came on cutting short our plans to explore further. That said, it was obvious we were only at the edge of the area and looking up the mountain we could see more structures, piles of stone and paths so this was just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m not sure what these structures were for. I’d hazard a guess that it was just for shelter for the men working on the wall and when you’re already spending your day cutting stone then maybe knocking up a few shelters is time well spent, especially when your workday is entirely on the side of an exposed mountain!

If anyone can provide any further information on the history of this area or what the structures were designed for we would love to hear. Either way, I would definitely intend to head back – the area didn’t seem to have much space that you could camp on but definitely warrants at least another afternoon explore.

This is the view from above showing where we crossed the wall and where we stopped for lunch. You can see we were only at the edge and there seems to be much more spread over a wider area.

This is a view from above showing where we crossed the wall and where we stopped for lunch. You can see we were only at the edge of the area that has been quarried and there seems to be much more to see.

Here are some photos from the hike.

Follow the lane from the car park to where it meets the Mourne Wall

Follow the lane from Carrick Littlle car park to the Mourne Wall

You can see a lot of evidence of quarrying on Binnian even from a distance.

You can see a lot of evidence of quarrying on Binnian even from a distance.

Slieve Binnian has a brand new path, there's no longer any need to hug the wall and as a result the ascent is much easier.

Slieve Binnian has a brand new path, there’s no longer any need to hug the wall and as a result the ascent is much easier.

You get some excellent views of Lamagan / Cammedagh and Donard in the distance.

You get some excellent views of Lamagan / Commedagh and Donard in the distance.

Having a breather and enjoying the view.

Having a breather and enjoying the view.

As the path rises you start to see structures a distance up the mountain on the other side of the wall.

As the path rises you start to see structures a distance up the mountain on the other side of the wall.

When you meet a wall coming up from Annalong Valley and crossing the Mourne Wall it's time to hop over.

When you meet a wall coming up from Annalong Valley and crossing the Mourne Wall it’s time to hop over. There are remnants here of the materials used to construct the new path, hopefully they’ll be collected at some stage.

Taking some pics for posterity. Or checking the football scores. Or both.

Taking some pics for posterity. Or checking the football scores. Or both.

There's a handy break in the Mourne Wall where you can clamber over.

There’s a handy break in the Mourne Wall where you can clamber over.

Now that you've crossed the Mourne Wall, follow the wall it bisected to your destination.

After crossing the Mourne Wall, follow the wall it bisected.

IMG_2735

As you rise up the slopes of Binnian the views keep getting better.

There are big piles of stone all over the place

There are big piles of stone and half constructed walls all over the place

This is the first stone structure we came to. It's stood the test of time well but that's potentially because not many people come this way.

This is the first stone structure we came to. It has stood the test of time well but that’s potentially because not many people come this way.

It was fairly small inside with a very small opening to get in. There was nothing to suggest whether it ever had a roof or not.

It was fairly small inside with a very small opening to get in. There was nothing to suggest whether it ever had a roof or not.

The view through the door.

The view through the door.

From behind.

From behind.

From above you can get a better feel for the size. There was enough room for 3 to have lunch comfortably. At the far end there was a pile of stones that were useful to set the stove on but this may just be rubble from earlier collapses rather than an intended feature.

From above you can get a better feel for the size. There was enough room for 3 to have lunch comfortably. At the far end there was a pile of stones that were useful to set the stove on but this may just be rubble from earlier collapses rather than an intended feature.

It's impressive that this structure has potentially been here for coming up on one hundred years and is still standing.

It’s impressive that this structure has potentially been here for coming up on one hundred years and is still standing.

Another structure below the one we stopped at for lunch,

Another structure below the one we stopped at for lunch,

This one is more open with only 3 walls.

This one is more open with only 3 walls.

More structures down the slopes again. This one appears to be 2 structures joined together.

More structures down the slopes again. This one appears to be 2 structures joined together.

A broken ankle had the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team out.

A broken ankle had the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team out.

Mourne Mountain Rescue have a nice shiny new Landrover. This was it's first official outing.

Mourne Mountain Rescue have a nice shiny new Landrover. This was it’s first official outing.

This entry was posted in Trip Reviews.

One Response to Slieve Binnian Village Hike

  1. specimanYak says:

    That was an interesting day with a wealth of features to be found.

    Video: http://goo.gl/QOjQmM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *