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Forecast was for overcast with afternoon rain. Six keen walkers reported at Ott Car Park for the hike lead by Trek NI navigator Graham. An attendance check was conducted and we were on our way up a rocky path towards Slieve Bernagh.
We had a good pace although still took time to take in the scenery at different points throughout the trek enabling all members of the group to stick together. After the rocky path, we navigated our way uphill through bog terrain. We proceeded further towards a cloudy mist creating spectacular views of the lakes it hovered over within the landscape, like something from a film.
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We journeyed through the thickening mist and Bearnagh revealed itself. As we approached the Mourne Wall at the bottom of Bearnagh the wind blasted through the valley, but we blasted harder. We took time to enjoy the experience and observed the majesty of Bearnagh as it towered over us.
We began to climb, but the intensity of the wind grew with the mountain. The navigator conducted a risk assessment and the decision was taken to divert the planned route as the accelerating wind speed became a hazard to balance.
We trekked round the side of the adjacent Meelbeg which sheltered us from the wind that returned once we reached the Mourne Wall at the bottom of Meelmore, where we got great views of Bearnagh.
A carpet of snow ran alongside the wall. We climbed up the steep slope of Meelbeg to be met by ferocious wind at the peak, strong enough to take our weight whilst leaning against it. We took shelter at the corner of the wall for lunch.
Afterwards we forced through the wind which gave up on us as we descended down the slope. The rest of the trek was downhill before we returned to Lough Shannagh, bog terrain and rocky path.
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This was a great trek with a great team. Tough weather is part of trekking and a good part too. It adds to the experience and presents problem solving challenges. This trek showed that trekking can be done in adverse weather as long as you respect nature. We strategically diverted our route to have a shield from the wind hazard during ascent and had a great safe trek that we could all enjoy.
Date: Saturday 7th March 2020
Total distance: 10.1km
Elevation gain: 569m
Duration: Approx 3 hours
To find out more about the Trek NI Walking Group, click here.
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