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19th October 2021

Slievemeen, Slievemartin and Crenville: A Southern Mournes Trio

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Belfast Mourne Mountains Photography

Start with a sunrise!

22nd February 2021 by Gareth Brown Share

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Seeing the sun in Northern Ireland. Yes, I know, it does seem a rare occasion that we see the thing. But where exactly is the best place to see the sun rise out on a “dander”? Lucky enough for us, we have the world of social media, giving us answers we need at our fingertips within seconds. There are many groups, websites, books, etc, giving insights about places to see, places to hike, places to run, etc. SO, lets look at a few of my experiences and how I have managed to get there.

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Over the last few years, I found myself being asked more to get involved with charity work by colleagues in work. I tend to be that person who says yes, then a day or two later ask myself “what are you doing?”. To be fair, I’ve never had any real regrets apart from the one occasion I abseiled down the front of the Europa Hotel in Belfast. That was not a pleasant experience.

So, where am I going with all this? Back in July 2019 an email landed in my inbox asking if I wanted to Climb Kilimanjaro for our work’s chosen charity, and you guessed it, I said yes! If you’re wondering, I did ask myself what I was thinking for the following few weeks after agreeing!

So, all roads were leading to “Kili” in September 2020. This meant walking was a must. Getting up the Mournes became the norm several times a month. We also headed up to Slemish Mountain in the Ballymena area, the Causeway Coast, Divis and Black Mountain, Cavehill… you name it, we probably took a wee dander there.

This drove a massive passion for getting out and exploring. My kids, as you can imagine, weren’t best pleased at being trailed up Cavehill or big long walks. The cries of “my legs hurt daddy” became all too familiar.

2020 landed and we all had plans changed or cancelled due to Covid. Later in the year we got the unwelcome news that “Kili” was off. BUT, the climbs, the walks and the jogs continue. We are truly blessed with some of the sights in this country and it’s scary to believe that there are many who have not yet experienced it. So, here are a couple of walks with a beautiful sunrise which you can catch before starting your day’s work (or if you’re off on furlough).

Cavehill, Belfast

Cavehill is a great wee “dander” which gives spectacular views of the whole of Belfast. You don’t need to be a fitness freak to get yourself up to the top which is a bonus! A simple search on social media and you can look at some of the amazing snaps people have captured of the sunrise up there.

There are a few different routes for Cavehill but the most common one I would recommend is coming in via the Upper Hightown Road, parking in the carpark then doing the short walk up and back down the hill.

This is one path up, and the same path down. I have managed to get my kids up in around 30 minutes! Just remember to check the forecast to ensure it’s going to be clear.

Slieve Binnian, Mourne Mountains

Now, catching sunrise from Slieve Binnian is the next level. Slieve Binnian is the third largest peak in Northern Ireland and it does pose a difficult enough climb. Any experienced climber who ventures around the Mournes knows the weather can change relatively quickly, so aim to do some research beforehand.

On one occasion, we had set off around 5am in September to catch a glimpse of sunrise and we were not disappointed at all. Reaching the top, the lack of cloud was a breath of fresh air. When the sun peaks above the horizon in the distance, it’s a sight you just don’t forget. The warm orange glow creeping its way along the Mourne mountain range is stunning.

READ: 5 scenic walks around Lisburn

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I’ve found it very rewarding getting out and about exploring. I have actually converted my partner and she now is the one asking me if we can go chasing sunrise, or even a walk along Helens Bay and Crawfordsburn in the dark with head torches on (the kids love this one).

Go try it, you will not be disappointed. The place we live in offers some spectacular walks and views – it’s down to you to get up and go find them. Start small and strive to achieve. You will not regret it!

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