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Peter Walker: Track 4252 in area near Slieve Binnian, Mourne Mountains (Ireland)
Mourne Wall Walk on the Winter Solstice
Length: 32.4km, Creator time taken: 12h 7m, Ascent: 2679m,
Descent: 2685m

Places: Start at J34505 21922, Slieve Binnian, Wee Binnian, Slievenaglogh, Slieve Muck, Carn Mountain, Carn Mountain North Top, Slieve Loughshannagh, Slieve Meelbeg, Slieve Meelmore, Slieve Bearnagh, Slieve Bearnagh North Tor, Slievenaglogh, Slievenaglogh East Top, Slieve Corragh, Slieve Donard, end at Start
Logged as completed by 1
The jarring descent to Wee Binnian

In my fevered imagination this was the most contrived-but-still-logical itinerary I could think of in Norn Iron: doing the classic Mourne Wall Walk challenge with the added frisson of minimal daylight. Having arranged sufficient fitness to cover the ground but not enough to do so between dawn and dusk, some decisions needed to be made.

I decided to climb Binnian by headtorch and try to time my arrival on the top with the advent of decent light so that the descent towards Wee Binnian (which I strongly advise recceing in advance if you don’t know it, with a maze of tors, slabs and boulders lying in wait) can be seen properly. This also meant that a certain amount of the end of the walk would be in darkness too...that amount being determined by how fast I could do the rest of it!
Approaching Slievenaglogh. The first one...

On the day conditions weren’t wintry at all, cool rather than cold, little wind and no ice on the ground. The cloud was down for a lot of the day though, and much of them fine rain that soaks you right through’ was experienced. Progress was steady rather than sensational, but as others have found once you’ve completed the frustrating flog up Muck you can settle down for a while into a routine of ‘down a bit, up a bit’ with good conditions underfoot.
On the climb up Slieve Muck
The pull up Slieve Meelbeg

This helps when you reach the third act, because you have to dig in a bit for the vicious climb up Bearnagh, the long stepped ascent of Commedagh, and the ‘final’ lengthy plod alongside the wall to gain Donard. I say ‘final’, but with darkness having gradually overcome daylight on the way over Commedagh there is little doubt that it’s the final shlep back to Carrick Little that’s the crux of the day.
The descent from Bearnagh

I’d argue you really need familiarity with this section to render it feasible (if not especially sensible) in darkness...and I’d been over it five days previously). The descent from Donard’s summit seems exponentially rougher with just torchlight to illuminate, and then the crossing of the Bog of Donard would be horrific without knowledge of where the bogs adjacent to the Wall actually are. Turning the corner under Rocky Mountain might feel like it puts the end in sight, but there’s still a long descent to Annalong Wood where every step needs planning, a plod out to the road along a track that seems straight out of The Blair Witch Project, and then a final road stretch to the car park featuring the sort of hill seemingly placed there by the gods for the craic.
Still, it’s done now. And I’m glad I can say I’ve done it, more than I’m glad I’ve done it if that makes any sense...

Uploaded on: Sat, 21 Dec 2019 (22:23:10)
Linkback: https://mountainviews.ie/track/4252/  
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Note: ALL information such as Ascent, Length and Creator time taken etc should be regarded as approximate. The creator's comments are opinions and may not be accurate or still correct.
Your time to complete will depend on your speed plus break time and your mode of transport. For walkers: Naismith's rule, a rough and often inaccurate estimate, suggests a time of 10h 57m + time stopped for breaks
Note: It is up to you to ensure that your route is appropriate for you and your party to follow bearing in mind all factors such as safety, weather conditions, experience and access permission.

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