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It was a fresh cool Sat morning on 10th Oct 2020. A cloudy morning with rainbows in the sky and the forecast for showers. We all met up at Dunny Water entrance gates on the Head Road, Annalong.
After parking our cars and gathering into our groups we were given a brief by our leader Graham on the plans for today’s hike. We were to hike Round and Long Seefin, Rocky Mountain along the Bog of Donard, Chimney Rock Mountain, Blaeberry and Spences Mountain. A total distance of 15/16 kilometres and an ascent of 850 metres.
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We started out along the Head Road until it ended and came across a grassy laneway where we walked along until we came to a stile on the left. This took us along a narrow pathway alongside trees to our left and fields to the right. Towards us and to the right we could see a wooded area and beyond our first, “warm up” hill of the day: ‘Long Seefin’.
We carefully negotiated our way through overgrown paths of brambles and whin bushes cautiously keeping our distance from the person in front for fear of a branch of a whin bush whacking you. The wooded area had some small rocky areas. When we were clear of the wooded area we could see our mountain summit tick points for the day and the challenge ahead: Rocky Mountain to our North West with a summit of 525 metres, and to our right and North East, Chimney Rock (656m), Blaeberry and Spences Mountain (517 metres).
We proceeded towards Long Seefin at a steady paced walk along the Mourne wall, and to our left and South East we could see the Annalong Wood, and beyond Slieve Binian, whose top was obscured by cloud.
When we reached Long Seefin we stopped for our tea break, just to recharge our batteries and catch up on a bit of craic and the offer of a ‘Jakemans’ cough sweets from Ryan (or ‘auld mans sweets’ as they where referred to), just to help clear out the pipes and help our breathing before proceeding onwards along a flat area of ground until we came across a stile – here, we climbed over and proceeded to the foothills of Rocky Mountain, bracing ourselves for the steep assent of Rockies grassy, heathery slopes, carefully planning our route through the boulders. When we reached the summit we were greeted with a strong North-Westerly wind.
Time to stop and add another layer to break the wind and steady our balance.
On the summit of Rocky looking towards our North West we could see the spectacular views of Blue Lough, Slieve Lamagan, Cove Mountain, Slieve Beg and the Devil’s Coachroad. To the North East we could see the foothills of Slieve Donard, though its top was shrouded with clouds.
(Photos of Groups A, B and C, in no particular order)
We left the summit of Rocky and continued downhill towards the Mourne Wall and shadowed the wall across the Bog of Donard, where three of our team members displayed ‘how to avoid getting your feet wet’ when they employed a technique only used by Spider-Man and impressed the rest of us. Thanks Mel, Steve and Ryan for the display which refreshed our moods and kept us laughing.
Shortly afterwards, we came upon another stile and climbed over, which led us along a flat area before taking us over a bouldery, heathery incline towards the summit of Chimney Rock Mountain.
The summit was our lunch stop, where we sheltered behind its rocky tors from the wind, recharged our batteries once again, got the craic and contemplated how lucky we had been to dodge the showers. Time for another ‘Jakemans’, and proceed onwards.
Graham had mentioned earlier that morning that he had the coordinates of the plane crash site, so we were all interested in finding some of the wreckage of the WW2 bomber B26 Marauder on the South Western side Chimney Rock Mountain where 5 American airmen perished on the 10th April 1944 – as usual, Graham didn’t disappoint us.
We came upon a memorial plaque and some pieces of wreckage and the poignant reminder of the lives that were lost there.
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We proceeded along Blaeberry Mountain towards Spences Mountain summit, where we again took in the spectacular views that were on offer, before carefully negotiating a safe footing among the bouldery slopes of heather and the gradual descent back down towards Spences River. We then continued towards Long Seefin, where we had been earlier in the morning.
We followed a wall along a wooded area which led us to a stile – there, we turned left to pick up a stoney track which we followed. This took us back to the Head Road and our starting point earlier that day.
Another hike ticked off! We were all exhilarated and enjoyed our day out once again in great scenery and good company.
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