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With none of us having hiked much for the past few months due to lockdown (added to lots of lockdown snacking) it was definitely right to start us off on an easy “leisurely walk”. It was also my first hike in the Mournes, and several in the group’s first hike of 2020 and so a few of us were definitely just happy to complete it in one piece!
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We were originally supposed to be at Ott car park for 7.45 aiming for an 8.00am start to miss the crowds who have swarmed to the Mournes to escape their houses during lockdown. The weather did not look likely to shine on us and so we ended up postponing the walk until the afternoon and I’m glad we did! The rainier early morning turned into a sunny 17 degree afternoon, with a slight breeze perfect for hiking in.
We ended up starting our walk at around 3.00pm from the Ott car park beside Butter mountain. We climbed over the stile and began a steep ascent up Butter mountain. I won’t lie, this steep ascent was tough starting, and I definitely felt like I wouldn’t be able to continue if this was what the next 2 hours had in store. But luckily it was mostly flat after the first peak and there were plenty of spaces to rest.
It was at this point I realised that most of the contents of my backpack was definitely not required. Most of us ended up walking in a t-shirt and the waterproof trousers were definitely not required. However, a light waterproof jacket provided a barrier against the windy conditions the Mournes are so well known for, and snacks and water are always a good shout.
We stopped at the first ascent to take some photos and have a small break then began a descent into a slightly boggy area. We were definitely all thankful for our waterproof boots, and Christine was definitely regretting wearing trainers!
We then reached the second peak, although this certainly wasn’t as obvious as the first peak, with our only main signifier being the pile of stones. After snapping a few pictures we quickly moved on to our third peak, had a quick sit down as the long grass and boggy ground made the walk much more strenuous.
We then continued to our final peak and sat down to take a tea break with the amazing backdrop of spelga dam. We had a snack and took lots of pictures then readied ourselves to do the final half of the trek. We had planned to do a loop through Craggydoo but Graham decided it would be too waterlogged due to the rain earlier that morning, and so we just went on a reverse of ourselves. We moved much more quickly on the route back and the descent of that initial peak was far easier than the ascent, but much harder on the knees!
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I think everyone in the group would agree that it was great to be back out in nature after having to stay inside for so long. Both my mental and physical health definitely benefitted from this relatively easy beginners hike and hopefully this was the first of many more hikes to come as lockdown begins to ease and we get back to normality!
Date: Saturday 13th June 2020
Total distance: 7km
Elevation gain: 351m
Duration: 2 hours 50 mins
To find out more about the Trek NI Walking Group, click here.
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