Hillwalking is unpredictable. High hopes can be dashed when the weather forecast does not live up to expectations. But even "leftovers" can turn into a feast when the sun shines. Sometimes you get lucky, and when it happens it can be memorable. I just got lucky today!
I got to Meelmore Lodge reasonably early and had the Mournes to myself. The temperature was low. The air was crisp and clear. The crowns had a white dusting. Perfect walking conditions.
I would describe this route as a three stage "out and back":
1. The day began with a walk from Meelmore Lodge onto and along the Trassey Track which is a long gradual ascent on an old rough boreen. There is a final steep rocky rise to Hare's Gap (gateway to the higher Mournes). This is a spectacular valley bisected by the Trassey river. There are cliffs on both sides, notably the Spellack buttress
2. After the strain of the final "pull" to Hare's Gap there is a wonderfully easy ramble along a narrow contour track the entire way to Slieve Beg, with a stone "staircase" at the end, followed by a minor "pull" to the summit of Slieve Beg. You will read all about the Devil's Coach Road in the Comments Section and the gully is as fearsome as they say.
3. Getting to the col between Slieve Beg and Cove is easy but the ascent of Cove will get your heart pounding: it's a bit of a challenge. Cove is simply a magnificent platform from which to view all the higher Mournes. In the crystal clear sunshine of a bitterly cold April morning I remembered just how exquisite the Mournes could be. I don't know how or why I missed Cove on my many previous criss-crossings of these mountains, but it must surely be the heart of the higher Mournes. Magnificent!
By the time I got back to Hare's Gap I could see long lines of walkers approaching , wearing tops supporting a cancer charity. There were other groups too, reminding me that the Trassey Track is "Main Street Mournes" and very busy most of the time, so there is a reward for getting out early.
I enjoyed a mighty cup of real ground coffee and a huge Ulster breakfast at Meelmore Lodge. The excellent fare was served by two warm and friendly young ladies who are a credit to Meelmore Lodge. A super end to a super walk.