PMG Walk 19 – Up N’ Down: Mournes 1, Goat 0!
My trilogy the day before which at the time I didn’t realise would end up being 43kms of walking in one day had left me feeling more tired than I thought I would be. I had only planned on doing two walks that day but with the way the weather went and the day light hours I manage three walks. Obviously somewhat tired starting day two of my trip I was secretly dreading this big walk in the Mournes. Walk 19 of PMG on Monday the 31st of March was my first real walk in the Mourne Mountains…EVER! (We can’t count Slieve Croob really) I knew it would be nearly 35kms of walking and with a lot of height gain and height loss so it was going to be a BIG day! The alarm went off at 6am but I crawled / fell out of the car at 7.30am and was walking just before 8am. In my mind I was already behind schedule. When going into the hills I like the idea of early starts and what they mean. For example, longer daylight hours and hopefully an earlier finish time before the weather may come down. However in reality, I hate actually getting out of bed for them!!!
And so PMG walk 19 began. I started with a short road section that would bring me on to the track that brings you up Shanlieve at 626m. The weather started hazy but nice. However it came down for about two hours before it got good again! Just a few meters away from the summit of Shanlieve I came into first contact with the Mourne wall. I didn’t realise it would be so big and as the weather was rather bad at that time I was able to use the wall as a wind breaker by walking on one side of the wall. My route followed the wall for a big part of the day and on one hand the wall may ruin the mountain experience but on the other hand it adds a unique experience to walking in the Mourne mountains.
After reaching the summits of Eagle Mountain at 638m and Slievemoughanmore at 560m I was on the climb of Pigeon Rock Mountain and the weather really started to clear up! Yay! The haze remained but at least I was no longer in the clouds and I could now enjoy some of the fruits of my labour…i.e. the views! Pigeon Rock Mountain has a south and north summit of the same height of 534m. I decided to go to both of them encase one did turn out to be higher than the other. So after being on the south summit of the same height I went to the north summit, again of the same height, and I really felt that the south summit was higher!! But hey, maybe it just looks like that! My route continued along and took in the twin peaks of Cock Mountain at 504m where you get an amazing view of Hen Mountain! From Cock Mountain I went down to the B27 via Slievenamiskan at 444m. I crossed the river Bann via an old footbridge (I took the old one and I saw a newer one further down river). I scrambled over the wall that brings you up on to the B27 mountain road. I can only imagine if a car had passed at that moment and had suddenly seen this head pop up over the wall it would be rather amusing! I then tackled the steep ground that takes you up to “Spelga at 472m”, as marked on the map. This brought me around to Butter Mountain at 500m which made me think of food and so a snack was had! From here I looked across to Ott Mountain which was recently re-measured and found guilty of being an Arderin at 527m!
I crossed the valley and the road in it and slogged up Ott Mountain. I was getting tried…and I was only about half way! From the summit of Ott Mountain I headed to Slieve Loughshannagh at 619m and along the way I found my old friend, the Mourne Wall! Again we parted ways at the summit and I headed for Doan at 593m. From here I felt the route became more fun as the summits mostly had summit “Tors” i.e. Rocky summits where easy scrambling would have to be done. The summits Tors also have many rock climbing routes which look fantastic!!! While standing on the summit of Doan I could see the cloud covered Slieve Binnan, my last big summit of the day, and it was far far away! At this point I thought to myself that I may give the Slieve Binnian summits a pass as I was so tired and started to feel a strange feeling like blisters on my feet….nooooo!
After Doan I think I was half asleep and suddenly found myself standing on the summit of Ben Crom at 526m with great views of the now clear summit of Slieve Binnian, and the Ben Crom Reservoir below…steeply below! I needed to get down to the dam section of the reservoir so I could cross over towards the track that goes up Slieve Binnian. In my tiredness I found it hard to find my way down the steep ground and cliffs. I first went south and I knew a slip here would not end well so I had to back track a few times and check the map to find a line of weakness off the summit. Finally heading more SSW I found a safe and easy scramble down and over some steep ground and boulders! It was great fun but I had lost some time in my lapse of concentration. If I had checked the map first and headed straight for the SSW side of the mountain to get between the cliffs I would have spared myself the scrambling around looking at possible ways down the cliffs. As I stood at the bottom of these cliffs I was certain I had made the right choice or at least the safe one in my tired state!
Now I was safely on the dam of Ben Crom Reservoir and I toyed with the idea of ending the walk here. After looking at the time I still had about 4 hours of light and some trail mix and plenty of water. “Ah fuck it lets go for it” I said. I took the track and before I knew it I was approaching Slieve Binnian North Tor at 670m. From the track it looked like I might actually not get to the top. It looked like full on rock climbing but I knew there was supposed to be an easy scramble to the top. I looked around, and found it. With great views I looked out over the last few summits ahead of me and knew I had the energy for it! The Tors on Slieve Binnian were impressive and the rock formations equally so! I scrambled back down the Tor and went along Slieve Binnian ticking the North Top at 678m, Slieve Binnian at 746m and Slieve Binnian East Top at 630m. On the east top I was so tired I forgot to take a photo. I was distracted while sending out a text message to Tara that said; “Still alive and nearly finished”.
It was an epic route and nearly finished. I went to the summit of Wee Binnian at 460m on the way to the road. I had read it was a very nice summit, and the summit Tor was yet again well worth the visit! I finally reached the road and I could already feel the dread of not getting a lift back to my car build up inside. I packed up my walking poles and stuck out my thumb to the first car which came by. This was all within three minutes of me reaching the road. He stopped! 🙂 Not only did he give me a lift but he went out of his way by a few kilometres and dropped me back to my car! Hope for humanity after all! However as the title of the blog may suggest, the Mournes scored 1 and I scored 0. Why? Well I was wrecked tired and sporting my first two blisters of Project Mountain Goat. There was no thinking needed here. I knew I could not do a similar route the following day. And so for me it was homeward bound for some TLC!
How did I feel about not being able to do walk number two in the Mournes? I was very disappointed that I had been that tired and to have received two badges of honour (blisters) but I was sure it was my biggest PMG walk yet. Even bigger than the Galty Madness I had done the month before. Sadly as I sat at the PC that night until 1am checking the routes, summits and photos, I saw it was not only slight shorter but with slightly less height gain and height loss meters than the Galty route. So I felt a little beaten by this and chalked this round up to the Mournes. I knew the walking and the routes I had planned in the Mourne Mountains were hard, but, I guess they were harder than I thought they would be! There was simply so much up N’ down (in Co. Down) for every summit that this tired me out greatly! I since have re-planned the last Mourne route I had planned for a one day to a two day route. This will make life easier. However a big part of me still wants to do it in just one day for the awesomeness of it all! Let’s see!
Project Mountain Goat Walk 20 and 21 were next to come. They would be Brandon Hill and the Blackstairs Mountains. Blog post coming soon! Cheers for reading guys!
Walk 19 – Map & Stats:
37.90kms – 10hrs & 32mins
2565m Ascent Meters / 2436m Descent Meters
16 Summits: 14 PMG Summits / 2 Non PMG Summit
The summits in order were:
Shanlieve 626m – (Summit #88/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Eagle Mountain 638m – (Summit #89/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Slievemoughanmore 560m – (Summit #90/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Pigeon Rock Mountain 534m – (Summit #91/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Cock Mountain 504m – (Summit #92/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Slievenamiskan 444m – Non PMG Summit
Butter Mountain 500m – (Summit #93/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Ott Mountain 527m – (Summit #94/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Slieve Loughshannagh 619m – (Summit #95/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Doan 593m – (Summit #96/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Ben Crom 526m – (Summit #97/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Slieve Binnian North Tor 670m – (Summit #98/454 – Mtn Class: Vandeleur-Lynam)
Slieve Binnian North Top 678m – (Summit #99/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Slieve Binnian 746m – (Summit #100/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Slieve Binnian East Top 630m – (Summit #101/454 – Mtn Class: Vandeleur-Lynam)
Wee Binnian 460m – Non PMG Summit