A walk over the most impressive mountain in the Mournes - Slieve Binnian.
Starting at the well apppointed carpark at Carrick Little, with views that would suffice many, an impressive track is followed gently uphill. This track is guided on either side by head height walls of impressive Mourne granite, no doubt cleared from the green fields beyond on this hillside, a space shared by sheep and the odd horse.
Glimpses of the mountain playpark appear through gaps in the wall, along with the sound of the wind. A stone stile is crossed and the splendour of the Annalong Valley lays itself out like an offering to a god. An information board details the numerous mountains visible and the birdlife that can soar far above.
Leave the track, to follow the Mourne Wall as it heads up towards Slieve Binnian, with ever widening views into the heart of the Mournes and south along the tapestry of green fields to the Irish Sea. Work was taking place to improve the route to the top and numerous large bags of stones had been dropped along the wall to build a path. A struggle through a gap at the base of the wall brought the other side and the chance to explore old quarry workings. Impressively water had frozen as it dropped down a working face, forming large fingers of ice.
Climbing above the quarry a smaller wall is crossed and the small tors of the East Top soon arrive. This is a fantastic place to spend some time exploring and offers wonderful photo opportunities. Not oft visited compared to the other tops of Slieve Binnian i would guess. A great spot for lunch with numerous places to shelter out of a breeze and my spot gave views over Carlingford and to Dublin and the Wicklow Mtns.
The Wall is quickly rejoined as drop off the East Top and a short climb brings the tors of the main top of Slieve Binnian. This has the wow factor in so many ways and some of mine were - the views down on the shimmering waters of the Silent Valley, the super grippiness of the rock beneath feet, the views covered by a 360 degree spin (slow motion of course!).
There follows a couple of kilometres of walking along the top of this beast of a mountain without a metre that does not bring a new dimension. Further work was being carried out before the North Tops and this was more serious with a squad of workmen and a digger, again using stone from the numerous large bags airdropped in. The new path being constructed was fine in my eyes and made a change from the large eroded area created by many feet finding different ways across this part of the hill.
Further impressive tors and boulders arrive with the North of the mountain and then a spectacular descent looking towards the deep blue of the Ben Crom resevior, hemmed in by beautifuly sculpted mountains such as Ben Crom and Slieve Bernagh. The path work is complete here and still has an alien feel but no doubt this will change with the passage of time.
Slieve Lamagan rears ever more impressively ahead with every downward step and would have been a natural choice to continue if i had not spent so much (great) time with videoing. The track back between Lamagan and Binnian passes Blue Lough and in the evening light a sharp demarcation line between light and shade crept ever higher up the flanks of surrounding hills.
The walk back was peaceful and quiet under a blue sky, past Annalong Wood and back to Carrick Little. A beautiful mountain with time spent lingering and savouring giving much needed nourishment to the soul........