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I’m pretty new to hill walking. This was my second outing with the group, so I’m still wet behind the ears as leaving without proper gloves taught me, although Michelle and Johnny came to the rescue and my hands have lived to tell the tale!
I met with the Trek NI Group (some of whom I had met on the last hike and most for the first time) on Saturday at the Bloody Bridge Car park. The atmosphere was jovial and welcoming considering the blustering winds…and I do mean blustering! A glove or two got taken into the air like a kite before we stepped out of the car park (thankfully none belonging to the group).
After an introductory talk from our knowledgeable yet very down to earth guide Graham we started the walk up the Brandy Pad over the stile and across the bridge, stopping for a few opportune photos and to take in the view behind us of the rough seas in Newcastle.
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We made our way up past the old quarry, taking a bit of refuge from the wind in an old hut, then regrouped and headed up towards the famous Mourne Wall, where we took a well-deserved, sheltered break. After photo shoots on the stile, feeding a fellow 4-legged walker, and a quick refuel, we were ready to make our way to our final destination of Chimney Rock.
The craic was great with lots of storytelling along the way, chatting with the group and getting to know each other better. We soon reached the peak just before Chimney Rock’s summit, but with gusts measuring 50mph it was decided to leave it there for today and head back down…but not before enjoying the GUSTS, the feeling of trying to stay grounded whilst the winds battered us was amazing!
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There was concern for Tilly the dog since she was small and the gusts were pretty strong but she had worked out that staying low was the best tactic and seemed to enjoy the wind blowing through her ears (smart dog).
The jaunt back down was challenging with the rocks and uneven surface under foot, but it was made all the more rewarding with an appearance from some beautiful wild mountain ponies. Not many days are filled with great company, beautiful scenery, breath-taking gusts (literally!) at the top of a mountain, dogs stealing your lunch (ok, it was handed over willingly) and wild ponies, but that’s exactly what a day out with the Trek NI crew had on offer last weekend!
I loved every minute of the hike and the next one can’t come quick enough. There’s a list of necessary gear being complied as we speak, with gloves top of the list…
Date: Saturday 1st February 2020
Total distance: 12km
Elevation gain: 671m
Duration: 5.2 hours
To find out more about the Trek NI Walking Group, click here.