I have been walking in the Mournes from the age of 16 (that’s 46 years) ago, and while I have been through all parts of the Mournes, there are still surprises, new routes to be investigated and variations of routes, and something new to see.
I am still impressed by some of the views. One of my favourite locations is The Castles along the Brandy Pad. The Castles can be a mysterious place particularly in the mist, when it looks eerie, surreal and amazing.
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We did this walk on Friday 27th November and the weather was dry with some sunshine little wind. We started from the carpark at Bloody Bridge. Unlike most other Mourne walks, this starts at sea level, so there is a greater climb involved. The Isle of Man was as clear as I’ve seen in a long time and the sea was very calm. The weather was a mixture of cloud with sunshine peeping through giving some nice light for the photographs, while there was little wind.
We followed the river, crossing at the stepping stones and on to the main path up to the Quarry. Even the Quarry is an interesting place to visit and photograph, and like the Castles, has an eerie feel in the mists, if you are lucky enough to be there at the right time. From the quarry we followed the track to the wall where there are superb views of Chimney Rock, Rocky and across the valley to Binnian.
The Brandy Pad gave great views on the way to the Castles which are situated on lower Commedagh. We walked to the beginning of the rise to the saddle that leads up to Slieve Beg and that’s where the Gulley into the Castles starts. While the two friends I was with climbed up the ridge of the gulley, I climbed up into the gulley. I wanted to get some pictures showing the extent of the gulley.
The standing tors are fascinating to see and well worth the effort. I managed to find a way up onto the ridge to meet my friends for lunch, then ‘slid’ my way back into the gulley again for more photographs and back to the Brandy Pad and down.
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The walk is about 13 Km and took us 5 and half hours and is relatively straightforward, with great views along the way, but be aware that in the Castles Gulley there are loose rocks as you climb up so there is a need to take care. This walk can be done any time of year, but remember that in winter you should start early due to lack of daylight hours. The Castles can also be approached from The Hares Gap and following the Brandy Pad to just past the saddle leading up to Slieve Beg.
As with all walks in the Mournes, it is important to always be prepared, and bring essential things like food, water, first aid kit, emergency blanket and tent, map, compass and whistle.