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kernowclimber
2010-11-29 17:08:39
Winter comes to the Granite Kingdom
The Mourne Mountains, gripped by the first iron fist of winter, lay partially concealed beneath yellow-grey cloud rumbling atop their crests, russet skirts dusted with ice and snow. With a bitterly cold wind at our backs we began the walk up the Glen River track. Verglas-covered rocks lightly peppered with snow covered the crazy paving that passes for a pathway, making walking conditions difficult. Higher up this gave way to thick grey ice that oozed down over the pathway’s steps dripping icicles like melted wax. Stopping to don our crampons, a large group of youths wielding walking poles appeared, inching their way slowly downwards determination etched onto wan faces bearing smiles bordering on grimaces. ‘Der wearing spiky tings’ gasped one in amazement as we exchanged greetings and left them slipping and sliding open mouthed behind us.

The mountains of this granite kingdom never fail to amaze and astound, their rugged beauty matched by the ever-changing weather of the four seasons that plays about their summits. Like an addict, one is compelled to return again and again to indulge in their majesty and to savour their mystery. Yesterday was one such day. I watched, mesmerised, as frigid Slieve Bearnagh, its spiky tors silhouetted against an apricot sky, was slowly engulfed by cloud boiling up in the valley below partially obscuring the watery sun now hanging like a paper lantern in the darkening sky. Bright pools of light flooding the surface of the Irish Sea gradually vanished from sight as snow began to fall heavily.

Struggling against a vicious east wind we made our way up to the tower on Commedagh, seemingly etched in monochrome, a welcome sanctuary from the elements. We fired up our stove inside for a hot drink watching the maelstrom unfolding outside. With the mercury plummeting and a wind chill making it feel about -10, we reached the cairn on Commedagh in near white out conditions then began our descent through ankle deep snow to Slieve Corragh. Through the spindrift and snowflakes whirling dervish-like I thought I spied a person; then more loomed into view. The granite pillars below Commedagh appeared like giant totem poles carved by the hand of time into fantastical shapes – stone sentinels guarding the castle of a Mountain King. Clambering over the ice encrusted Mourne Wall we reached the summit of Corragh then returned to the Castles, passing a group of walkers taking shelter close to the stile.

The path down to Newcastle was now covered with the diamond dazzling treachery of fresh snow on ice. As we descended below the cloud it stopped snowing, unveiling the iced tree tops of Donard Wood and the white crescent of Newcastle Bay abutting a moody grey-green sea. Entering the mysterious darkening Donard Wood snow began to fall softly, the twinkling lights of Newcastle revealed periodically between the tangled boughs of trees serving to entice us safely downwards.
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RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS 1 2 3 .. 21 Next page >>
Summit Comment
An Bhinn Bhuí: Benwee Head Loop.
sandman less than an hour ago.
As already stated Benwee Head has some of the most dramatic costal scenery in Ireland and with this in mind i decided to enjoy on a clear sunny day the joys of walking the 12.4km of the Benwee Hea...

  
Summit Comment
Knocknanacree: Storm Beach and Cliffs at lower western reaches
Bunsen7 2 hours ago.
A view of "Acres" from Minard Beach. This is apparently a geologically interesting spot in itself as it is a storm beach comprised of large sandstone boulders. The castle is on private land and no...

  
Summit Comment
Knockafeehane: From the horse's mouth
Bunsen7 2 hours ago.
This is the trail description post at Q59652 00497. It summarises the route if taken from east to west, as per track 3881.Vastly superior to my own garbled efforts!Annascaul obviously is a very we...

Summit Comment
Knockafeehane: Easily Accessible and not overly demanding
Bunsen7 3 hours ago.
There is a waymarked trail to the summit which loops over the ridge leading west from this hill. See track 3881.The quickest route to the top would see you park in Annascaul village and walk up th...

  
Track
Meelin Hill, Brackloon and Knockafeehane
Bunsen7 3 hours ago.
A grand and simple waymarked trail for a day of low lying cloud.Park up at the post office beside the Tom Crean mini-p... walk, Len: 7.2km, Climb: 343m, Area: Knockafeehane, Slieve Mish (Ireland) Kno

  
Track
Eagles Hill, Mullaghbeg, Beenrour
bogtrotter 3 hours ago.
There?s plenty of room for parking at the cemetery at the top of Coad Road, near Castle Cove. From here we headed SW ... walk, Len: 21.6km, Climb: 825m, Area: Eagles Hill, Dunkerron Mountains (Irelan

Track
Erris Head Loop
simon3 9 hours ago.
Simple walk to Erris Head. On the occasion we did it, there were dark clouds and big showers. walk, Len: 9.0km, Climb: 417m, Area: Mayo Coastal Hill (Ireland) Erris Head Hil...

  
Summit Comment
Cashloura: An enjoyable walk for all ages
CaminoPat a day ago.
Park at W20849 49704 at Coillte forest entrance just off the R586 Regional Road between Dunmanway and Drimoleague. Parking available for 6-8 cars. Follow forest road which is along line of disused...

  
Forum: General
An Sli
Slier159 23 hours ago.
Hello all,I am currently trying to organize a longs distance walk from Killarney to Derry city, using the existing National Waymarked Trails along the West coast. A 1,000km of Trail already exist ...

Summit Comment
An Bhinn Bhuí: Benwee Loop walk towards Portacloy.
ucampbell 3 days ago.
The Loop walks here are well signposted, it's a great idea to go out onto each headland.

  
Summit Comment
Doonvinalla N Top: Coastal Hill
sandman 3 days ago.
On 26/4/2014 i spent a very enjoyable afternoon walking this area visiting the army observation hut and the stone constructed EIRE marking as part of an addition to the Benwee Head Loop walk but i...

  
Summit Comment
Doonvinalla N Top: Flat topped but hard to get to.
simon3 3 days ago.
View from the west.


RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS 1 2 3 .. 21 Next page >>