This weekend, the Carrowmena Team headed for the hills!
With the days work done, the Carrowmena Camper was loaded up with the essentials for some epic hiking. In case your wondering what we like to pack for such an event, here’s a sneaky look into the teams backpack…
Windproof jacket – Might be warm when you start, but up in the hills the wind would cut through ya!
Walking boots – definitely not for dancing!
Water – enough to last your trek time, and a double again for spare just in case. We took 5.5 litres for two, but we also made some tea from this!
Sandwiches – stable diet of any mountaineer.
Sweets – full of sugar & ’cause I like sweets.
Map, compass, pencil – For us map reading geniuses.
Warm jacket for when you stop for tea, hat and gloves were a defo this weekend too.
Flask of tea or if your hardcore like us…camping stove. (& something to light it with)
Headtorch… As our head instructor at Carrowmena Steven always says….. ‘Just in Casey!’
Comfortable backpack to put all your goodies into. If ya ever need advice on what pack to use, just ask any of our team the next time you see us, we love awesome kit.
So, at 7.00 pm we left our Centre at Carrowmena, and with the sunset on our backs we headed for Newcastle. After a tea stop along the way, we arrived in Newcastle around 9.30pm. As we drove into town the showdows of Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh came into view. With the moon high in the sky, these epic mountains looked intimidating ……. but tommorow…. we would summit these beasts!
We set up camp beside Newcastle Outdoor Swimming Pool for the night. The tea was brewed, toasted pancakes with nutella in case your wondering, the map was opened and a plan of attack was made. We decided that an early start of around 7.30 am would be good, and we would launch from Bloody Bridge… gotta love a plan.
So, after a quick game of cards, of which the loser had to wash the dishes!, we settled down for the night. Our camper has recently had some new carpet fitted…. pretty plush eh!!
At 7.30 am, the alarm went off. It was quickly turned off! At 8.30 am the backup alarm went off…… we crawled from our cosy sleeping bags and opened the door of the camper. We were greeted with a bright crisp morning, the sun was shining, the skies were blue, and the Irish Sea was glistening brightly, mother nature, thank you very much!!, A perfect day for mountain hiking.
After a breakfast of porridge, tea, more pancakes and a sneaky biscuit, we arrived at Bloody Bridge, just a short drive out of south of Newcastle out the A2. There’s a great car park here and public toilets. Be careful crossing the road, traffic flies past here.
We made our lunch, ran through our kit to ensure we were prepared for a full day in the mountains, Sandwiches… check Water….. check Map…… check Cream egg …….. check (Now who doesn’t love cream eggs, come on!!)
So, with our backpacks packed, suncream on we left Bloody Bridge at 10 am and started the 4k Climb up to the Mourne Wall.
Off we go…..!
Sticking with our plan, we hand railed the Bloody Bridge River, keeping it to our left (The path is well worn and you’ll have no problem finding your way) A good sturdy pair of hiking boots is a must though. Take your time, and enjoy the beautiful sound of the river as you walk.
After around 1k, you’ll arrive at the first marker, here you will have a choice of crossing the river to the opposite side to take the old quarry road, or you can stay and follow the worn path (You see Crossone on your right, at 545 metres its a decent hill)
We kept the river on our left, and continued for the Wall! The weather was beautiful, even if it was a little cold, but the steady climb to the saddle kept us warm.
We arrived at the Mourne Wall, and sat by the stile. A quick drink and a piece of lemon cake….. mmmmmmm…. cake!
The view was astonishing, the clear morning was only spoilt by the litter we saw lying on the ground. Plastic bottles, empty drinks containers, plastic forks and cigarette packets…. Why are people leaving this here. This area is one of the most important natural tourist attractions we have here in Northern Ireland, lets get this litter thing stopped!!! #leavenotrace
We done our bit, filled a dry bag with rubbish and stuffed it into our pack for correct disposal later #loveyourmountains
We now turned right, and followed the Mourne Wall up the East side of Donard. We kept the wall on our left, this gave us shelter from the winds.
Be sure to stop and enjoy the views on the way up….
After 45 mins steady climbing, we arrived at the summit of Slieve Donard. This majestic mountain of 853 metres in height provided us with one of the most breathtaking views this amazing place has to offer. The sea was glistening below, and the skies were a bright blue above, but the wind would have blown yer head off!!
View from the Top of Donald
After a few pics, and a quick chat with another fellow climber we turned West and headed down the side of Donard, towards Slieve Commedagh 765metres.
We headed down the side of Donard, with Commedagh now firmly in our sights and lunch on our minds!!. Stopping at the bottom saddle between Donard and Commedagh to enjoy the warmth of the sun, we continued along the Mourne Wall up Commedagh, or as we named it, comin to get ya!!
It was great to see so many people out enjoying the mountains. Old and young, all taking in the stunning views and fresh air, although I did feel a little sorry for the girl going up the west side of Donard… in a pair of flip flops!! But she did look tough!
At 1.30 we arrived at the summit of Slieve Commedagh. Another blustery summit, and we could now see the dark grey clouds rolling in from the West.
After a lunch of chicken salad wraps, chocolate and tea brewed on the camp stove, we had to make a hasty retreat off Commedagh. In 2 minutes we had bright sunshine, no wind, strong wind, rain, hailstones and more wind… #beprepared!!!!
Check out the concentration, tea making masterclass going on here
We made our way back down to the stile between Donard and Commedagh. We crossed the stile and followed the Brandy Pad. This area is called Brandy Pad, as it was an area used by some clever fellows in years gone by to smuggle booze and other items. Although, we didn’t see anything dodgy going on, apart from a few lost looking Duke of Ed kids!
Follow this path and you’ll arrive at the Mourne Wall again. This is where we arrived when we ascended earlier.
Crossing the wall, we headed across the Donard Bog, towards Chimney Rock Mountain. At 656 metres, this mountain is crowned with fantastic granite giants. As we approached from Donard Bog, those cold grey clouds that forced our retreat from Commedagh grew close, however we couldn’t let that get in the way of some bouldering!
After some fun, we had to retreat down again as the weather had turned and was now throwing hailstones the size of golf balls at us….. !!
Disused granite Quarry
We headed down from Chimney Rock via a heather covered northern slope. Not such a good idea as Lottie was rocking the 3/4 length leggings! This brought us back onto the old quarry road and back onto the track we ascended on. As we made our way back the sun broke through and warmed our backs as we walked the long path down, as if to say thanks for visiting see you again soon!
After 6 hours, 3 mountains, a picnic and a few scrapes, we arrived back at Bloody Bridge to the Carrowmena Camper.
After a cuppa, we waved a fond farewell to the fantastic Mourne Mountains, using our drive home to plan our return!!
We will definitely sleep tonight…….
In summary, these mountains are awesome, but be prepared before you leave, check out the link for more info on ‘What to take on a Day Trip to the Mountains’ The weather changes in minutes, and without the correct clothing/equipment, your fantastic days trekking could turn nasty, and ruin your experience of these majestic mountains.
For further information, please have a look at walkni.com for guidance.
Now get out there…. See you on our next adventure
NB: Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
Keep an eye out for the Carrowmena Camper, and be sure to come say hi, you might even get a cuppa!