Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snow in the Mournes

So here we are, 2010, its been a few weeks since i last posted but i've been far from idle. Christmas was a hectic affair this year, shuttling back and forward between Belfast and Thurles takes its toll so before new year we decided to stay at the excellent Meelmore Lodge at the foot of the Mourne Mountains for a couple of days and relax.

The intention was to walk the first day but a combination of late night poker tournaments, exhaustion and the Cotswold January sale, meant we left it for the second day.

It turned out to be a wise move, we awoke on the Wednesday morning fresh from a 10 hour sleep, i was hungry for porridge, snow and granite. I got all three.

The weather was foul outside the hostel, but we were layered perfectly for the job, i had bought a new Rab Powerstretch top from Cotswold in the sale the day before and boy was it a nice piece of kit. Santa had been kind enough to leave me a pair of Primaloft Ice Gauntlet gloves, also from Rab the week before and my hands were the warmest they had ever been but ill talk more on the gear on another post.

The walk we had planned was simple and relatively short as we had booked ourselves in for a seaweed bath in Newcastle at Soak that evening. It involved contouring around Slieve Meelmore to the Trassey track, up to Hares Gap and then to the summit of Slieve Commedagh.

We met a guy at the wall on Hares Gap who was not for venturing any further, "you'd be mad to go any further today in this wind" he chirped. Indeed the wind was strong but it was certainly not the worst i had experienced on these fine hills. We hopped over the wall and continued on our way over Slievenaglogh where we met a man who was out looking for his dog, a scottish terrier, a white scottish terrier, in a foot of white snow. Good luck i thought, he had been out now for two days searching for his canine friend.

As we began the ascent of Commedagh, the wind picked up some more and it began blowing snow and ice particles violently into our faces which has subsequently prompted the purchase of snow goggles in the event of this happening again.

Aside from this the going was good, my boots bit into the hardened snow well. The granite summit shelter had taken on the form of an arctic igloo with snow drifts up as high as the top of the entrance. We stopped for some lunch before heading back down to the hostel.

I enjoy reacquainting myself with the Mournes, the hills i spent most weekends bounding over once upon a time. I only have photos of the hills taken from Meelmore Lodge as we didnt have the nerve to bring the Nikon D70 into the storm above and we were right to as there was no let up in the blizzard all day.

Oh and the bath was tremendous, I really recommend it to anyone after a long days walk in the hills.

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