Part of the reason that I selected Wilderness Ireland as our travel company was because I could select trips that included guided hikes. Our first hike was in the Mourne Mountains in County Down. The hike tried to kill us, but it was worth it. I jest, we were jet lagged and it was a long hike but those are the ones that make the best memories.
We met our guide in the town of Annalong, which is located on the coast of the Irish Sea. From there we followed him to a private car park near the trailhead. I think the car park at Carrick Little Glamping cost £2 for the day and £5 for overnight. They also had a restroom that those using the car park were welcome to use. From there we walked up the road and through a gate in our rain gear. Many of the trails in Ireland are on commonage and there are often grazing animals, so make sure to leave gates as you found them once you pass through as there could be grazing animals. We hiked up the valley to the overlook of Ben Crom Reservoir. In theory we could have hiked up the second highest peak in the Mournes, Slieve Commnedagh, but, according to our guide, it is a knee killer.
It had stopped raining fairly early in the hike and we had taken off our rain gear but as we stood taking in the view of the Silent Valley and getting ready to stop for lunch, there came a storm rolling through. Our absolutely wonderful guide, Paul, whipped out his emergency shelter and we got to sit in a dry space and enjoy our toasties and hot tea. We didn’t get the view we wanted but we did get a good memory. The wind that came with this rain storm was cold.
After lunch we really started climbing. It was still raining as we made our way up to the Tor Summit. This is the false summit on the way to Slieve Binnian. Along the incline we spoke to the volunteers that were working on improving the hiking trail. Despite the rain, they were in good spirits and were great to talk to.
Myths say that these tors on the false summit are stone warriors. We were very happy to reach this point on the trail as it meant that most of the steep up hill climb was behind us. There is a saddle between this peak and the true summit. As we hiked along the smell of sheep manure reached us. A farmer in the valley below was using it as fertilizer.
The summit was windy and honestly we couldn’t stay up there too long as the force of the wind was pushing me over. The valley below is dotted with farms outlined with stone fences and dotted with white sheep. On the opposite side from where we had hiked up was the small peak of Wee Binnian.
Getting down from the mountain’s peak was almost worse than climbing up. The trail was boggy and slippy and the wind did push me this way and that. Trekking poles were a life saver. I realize I sound like I’m complaining a lot and maybe I am but getting the chance to explore this landscape with a guide who knew and loved the land was fantastic. We got to learn a bit of geology, history, and mythology as we climbed. The landscape itself is unlike anything I have ever hiked in before: bogs covered in heather with not a tree in sight and the only shade provided by a few standing stones here and there. Looking down from all the peaks but especially from Slieve Binnian was awe inspiring.
Things I learned on this hike:
- Rain showers will probably come in every 45 minuets or so.
- You will need your rain gear.
- You will remove and put your rain gear back on several times.
- Trekking poles are needed for the downward hike.
- You might have to carry your hat if it doesn’t have a chin strap.
We really had a good time on this hike. Yes, we could have been in better shape for it and yes, I do wish the wind had been less wild at the top. We change what we can and accept what we cannot. Have you ever been hiking in Ireland? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comment. Remember to leave no trace and safe travels.
Thank you KW Photography for allowing me to use your wonderful photos!
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