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Post details Post   (Contract pics)
Peter Walker
2014-08-24 22:19:21
Meetings of minds
Amidst the debate and banter regarding the recent expansion of the Binnion list on MV, the view has been repeatedly expressed that a possible downside might be an increase in access issues. The new hills are at the lower end of the altitude spectrum, and as such a decent proportion of them might have summits within actively worked farmland owned by folk blissfully unaware that hordes of hillwalkers (oh, alright then...about seven of them) might be about to descend (by ascending) on them.

The potential for conflict is undoubtedly there. But there is another way of looking at it.

After another week of bog-standard desk-jockeying, I needed a little fix of the outdoors. A vicious battle with the Belfast traffic was eventually won, and so it was that I found myself setting forth up Castlemahon Mountain, a slightly optimistically monikered summit (all 128m of it) near the County Down coast. Soon I was wandering though a yard surrounded by farm workings and farm houses, and I noticed two gentlemen working on some indeterminate/unidentifiable (to a child of the suburbs such as myself) machinery. I wandered over to ask for permission, and found one of them to be in his forties at a guess...the other was one of those men who could be anything from 60 to 140 years old but was still impressively proficient at his trade. The sought-after permission was happily granted and was followed by one of those nicely edifying conversations where parties with ostensibly nothing in common (lord knows how much damage I could do if anyone ever let me loose on mechanised agriculture) come together in mutual appreciation of just how satisfying a Friday evening outdoors can be.

And so it is that I sit here expressing online the hope that my exploration of the Binnions will give me many more opportunities to meet folks with fascinating worldviews that I would never otherwise have met. And part of me hopes that one of them went and wrote on some farmers' bulletin board about how he'd met some polite-but-daft English bloke who seemed to think that a smart shirt and suit trousers are perfectly acceptable hillwalking clothing so long as you're wearing four season mountain boots as well.
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