On a windy Tuesday day in March, in much need of some fresh air and a stretch of the legs, the mountains were well and truly calling. We headed off to the Western Mournes to explore an area my husband and I had not walked in a long time.
Our initial plan evolved from a short relaxing walk into something much longer than intended (as it very often does!) whereby we walked around 7 miles and covered 7 mountains in total.
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Starting at Leitrim Lodge Car Park we walked up the riverside track to Altataggart Mountain (445m) and Pierces Castle where we were graced with a clear view and a rainbow to top it off. Alongside a flask of tea and our first snacks of the day, the map also appeared from the backpack and our short walk turned into an ever so slightly longer one.
Instead of crossing the hill to Tornamrock and Rocky Mountain as intended, we instead headed south across the very boggy Castle Bog to meet the Mourne Wall at Shanlough.
With muddied boots we followed the wall up the steep climb to summit Shanlieve (627m). The cold and blustery wind at the top meant we didn’t stay long before making our way along the saddle to Eagle Mountain (638m). Here we managed to shelter behind the Cairn, raid the snack pack and enjoy the unhindered views of the surrounding mountains.
Feeling refreshed from our pit-stop we continued following the Mourne Wall downhill from Eagle Mountain and into Windy Gap. Here we expected to feel the full force of the wind through the valley, however we were very surprised to find that Windy Gap was in fact one of the most sheltered points of our whole route that day!
Taking a moment to enjoy the calm, we then crossed the river and made our way up the sharp climb to the top of Slievemoughanmore (560m).
From here we picked our way across the moorland to top Wee Slievemoughan (428m). At this point we had covered around 5 miles and were slowly losing daylight so continued on without much pause to enjoy the surroundings.
We descended, carefully crossing the Rocky Water River and quickly climbed through heather to summit Tornamrock (390m). From the top we were happy to spot the Ulster Way track which we walked downhill to meet.
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Gluttons for punishment we decided to take on one last hill before darkness. Wind in our faces, we followed the short track to the top of Rocky Mountain (405m).
Here my lovely mum called to make sure I had entered the Cool Cash Call but couldn’t hear me because it was so windy. Last hill conquered, we speedily followed the track the final mile down to Leitrim Lodge.
With wind-burnt cheeks and tired legs, we left the Mournes at sunset with great satisfaction, having achieved more than we’d set out to and also gained a renewed appreciation for the beautiful place we get to call home.