There is something about Spence’s river valley not quite right: unsettling, unnerving. Something bigger than a sad story of a lost pilot ploughing into its East Stand – something age-old; a patient audience perhaps of this and a thousand other sad events.
The weight of melancholy in the place is overpowering – or is it just that dark days simply draw a lone spectator on to its drear stage? I fell under the spell of Chimney Rock Mountain the very first time I saw her. Pretty, little, odd: an outrider on the fringes of the pack proper. The alpha girls, Donard, Commedagh, Meel More, wide Lamagan and diva Bearnagh collude and conspire but Chimneyrock stands alone, silent, unassuming. From Chimney Rock Mountain you see everything we have been and everything we are. On a warm, new Sunday in February, a panorama panning North/South picked out Scotland, the Isle of Man, snow on English tops, a pool of canary yellow sunshine that spilled out from Drogheda dawn ‘til dusk and on its glazed horizon, heartbreaking Howth and memories of dolphins and rainbows. On her South Western edge, leaden feet draw you down into the spinning nothingness of Spence’s Valley. There are no tracks or clues and as you descend into this huge, heathery bowl, the emptiness seems to engulf you. A damp clamber up on to Rocky Mountain and return along the wall or Buttress holds the spectre of Spence’s Valley to heel and Donard Bog (currently Donard Bog Archipelago) soon occupies your attention – and a yomp home to Bloody Bridge (Start/Finish). It was in Spence’s, a blazing Spring, some years back. Invisible water gurgled under hidden holly, holy, hollow trees. Suddenly in my mind, the taste of fuel and French perfume, which might explain why he flew, uncontrollably, into Chimney Rock Mountain. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/178/comment/3595/