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 on: May 22, 2017 
Started by admin - Last post by admin
A major restoration project has been announced for the famous 22-mile Mourne wall more than a century after construction started.

NI Water is leading the work, using helicopters to transport materials and local stone masons to rebuild the granite structure - which covers 15 peaks in the mountain range - with expert advice from the Mourne Heritage Trust.

The wall was ordered to be built by the Belfast City and District Water Commissioners in 1904 to define a 9,000-acre catchment area for the construction of the Silent Valley reservoir. Built without concrete, the task took 18 years.

Three shelter towers on the peaks of Slieve Donard (1910), Slieve Commedagh (1913) and Slieve Meelmore (1921) give an idea of how the structure progressed.

Much of the damage to the wall has been caused by lightning strikes over the years.

NI Water said the first phase of the work will get under way this month with the restoration of a 2.5km section between Slieve Loughshannagh and Slieve Meelmore.

Matthew Bushby of the Mourne Heritage Trust said the project was a vital opportunity to address erosion on popular mountain walkways.

"We're delighted to be involved, in particular we're very keen to see a holistic project undertaken to repair the wall," he said.

"As a body, we're very experienced in upland park erosion control work and heathland repair work.

"We've been utilising helicopters for lifting materials such as stones and turf to these sites. The initial cost is high, but the effectiveness is massive."

Consultant archaeologist Eoin Halpin said the project was bringing history back to life.

"From 1904 to 1922 it was built a metre thick and three high in places," he explained.

"The physical involvement of producing that... the mind boggles. They're using helicopters today, but in 1904 these guys were setting out at 6.15 in the morning for a day's work.

"The men who did this have taken on almost mythical quality.

"You see a road scheme these days and you have diggers and trucks, but they did it with shovels, spades and wheelbarrows.

"It will be very interesting to see how a modern engineering company approach it in 2017."

The 1981 book The Dam Builders by WH Carson features an interview with Annalong man Johnny Cousins, who worked on the original wall.

Living in farmhouses or camping on the mountainside and fuelled by soda bread, the workers would often face a three-hour climb before the day's work of splitting and lifting granite slabs even began.

Mr Cousins said that after three months on the mountains the "stone men" were hard as steel.

"They were men with powerful shoulders and hands like shovels," he recalled.

Two serious accidents were noted at the building of the wall over Bernagh.

A man called Ned Hagan broke his leg in a stone quarry, while Willie McVeigh lost a foot after it was crushed by a granite boulder.


 on: May 22, 2017 
Started by Heggs - Last post by RedLeader
Excellent photos, looks like a great day out, you got great weather. You reckon you can persuade your brother out again? Next stop a summit camp of course  8)

 on: May 22, 2017 
Started by Heggs - Last post by Glenn B
Cracking wee write up and pics mate. Karma added for the swim lol, how many lengths did you do  8)

 on: May 21, 2017 
Started by Heggs - Last post by Heggs
Cheers mate, actually we were both pretty good afterwards. I think the dip in the Lough fairly freshened us up and the walk down the straight path probably gave our legs a warm down too. Really enjoyed it!

 on: May 21, 2017 
Started by Heggs - Last post by torp
Great write up mate and cracker pics (again) :-X how'd the bro feel after mate?
Keep em coming ;)

 on: May 21, 2017 
Started by admin - Last post by torp
Fair play Torp, it'll be a few more years before I'll be able to do a 3-4 nighter! I've only camped once so far this year, can only manage to get out hiking right now  :(
To be honest I think her indoors is just looking rid of me mate  ;D

 on: May 21, 2017 
Started by admin - Last post by Heggs
Fair play Torp, it'll be a few more years before I'll be able to do a 3-4 nighter! I've only camped once so far this year, can only manage to get out hiking right now  :(

 on: May 21, 2017 
Started by Heggs - Last post by Heggs
My younger brother Conor has never experienced the Mournes before. The only mountains he has ever been close to were mountains of Chinese food, beer and laundry back in his student days. He has been thinking of working out a bit to lose the reminder of those days from around his waist and I thought I’d help with a trip to Slieve Binnian.
We agreed on a date and I assured him that it was a nice, “easy” walk to break him in gently.

We arrived at Carick Little car park at 7.50am. Conor tried the 2 extra pairs of hiking shoes I brought for him but he decided to wear his trainers and packed one of the pairs I brought as a backup. We set off from the car park at a steady pace. When climbing Binnian we took the occasional break as the last thing I wanted was to put him off trying anything like this again. Reaching the summit around 9.30am, we were met with a lovely clear sky, gorgeous views and a mild cool breeze. While Conor had a look around, I messed about trying to get my GoPro working. It had stopped recording on the way up but had I had no luck and chucked it in my bag (turned out it was a corrupted Micro SD card).

On we went, along the top of the mountain past the Back Castles towards the north tor. I have hiked up Binnian a few times before and have only admired the tor on the way past. I had read the night before that it is fairly easy to climb, so that’s exactly what we did. It definitely kept us entertained for around 20 minutes and added another highlight to the walk.

Following the path downhill, we joined up with the main route back towards the car. Conor was chatting about work when we were approaching Blue Lough and I interrupted him with: “let’s jump in and out, quick as a flash and freshen up!” It didn’t take much convincing and within minutes we were in, out and back on the route fresh as a daisy. I quoted Haze Outdoors from YouTube and told him: “it’s all about creating the memories up here” pointing to my head. So true.

As we continued, I was realising that my bro was just a big 31 year old kid and I had to keep him entertained or he would get bored. “There’s a cave in here you know, fancy a nosey?”
“Yeah, come on” he said and up we went to Percy Bysshe cave.
I’d been here before but didn’t know where to go past the first opening. Luckily 3 guys were exiting as we approached the entrance and gave us directions. It was a tight squeeze and Conor was cursing the chinese he’d had the night before. He also thought he would 'politely' let one of the jagged rocks know how much he appreciated it gently massaging his skull by throwing every swear word he could think of at it. As we were squeezing back out, Conor soaked his foot in a puddle but he thought his trainers were so comfy that he decided just to change the wet one and walked the rest of the way to the car with odd shoes.

We noticed before we left that the new cafe was open at Carrick Little and stopped in for a coffee. I’ll pop a pic of the menu below for anyone interested.

Overall, the trip was a success. The Mournes has a new fan and we both left with smiles on our faces. We had hiked a mountain, climbed a tor, had a dip in a lough and explored a cave. All for the price of food and petrol. We were physically tired but mentally recharged.
Just what was needed before the daily grind starts again on Monday.


 on: May 21, 2017 
Started by admin - Last post by torp
Hoping for a 3/4 night trip starting Monday 22nd May either in the Mournes / Helens Tower,
if I get to the Mournes will either be Fofanny or Spelga with some fishing involved.

 on: May 16, 2017 
Started by specimanYak - Last post by specimanYak
Thanks RT, wish I could of stayed out longer! Hope you get that multi-day pass sorted.

Great video.  3 nights ..excellent, I wish I could get a pass for 3 nights, 1 is all I can generally get!.....looked great!

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