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Report on Northern Ireland Trip (2)
23 May 2009   (3182 views)

An 8.30am start didn?t seem such a good idea after the long journey and fairly late night but we all made it and enjoyed the typical Ulster fry up. The plan today was to attempt Slieve Bearnagh, Slieve Meelmore, Slieve Meelbeg and Slieve Loughshannagh. Unfortunately, it had rained quite a bit during the night and the mist was so low we couldn?t see the tops of even the lowest mountains. Nevertheless we set off up the Trassey Track which starts right at the gate to the hostel, up to the Hare?s Gap and then up the very steep track to the top of Slieve Bearnagh. The weather hadn?t improved and two of the party, Aileen and Lydia decided to head back down. In fact, Aileen decided to announce her retirement from hill walking. She?d had enough. The rest carried on with the descent before climbing the next steep incline. As the mist was obscuring the views, we just kept asking Mark to describe the views we were missing. When we reached the top of Slieve Meelmore, it was raining very hard and was really windy but we still sat down to have a snack and a wee sing song. Michael gave us a rendition of the Mountains of Mourne and Maureen gave us a very humorous version of Danny Boy. We set off back down the hill following the wall which gave us a bit of shelter from the wind. At the low point before ascending Slieve Meelbeg, we had another break and Maureen and Kenny posed for some photos. I must point out that at this point we discovered how Maureen had won an award for acting. She deserves an Oscar! Kenny, Jacqui, Maureen and Gail decided to take this opportunity to go head back to the hostel, but the rest of us carried on relentless. Mark assured us that the next two hills were much easier. It didn?t take us long to get to the summit of Slieve Meelbeg and as were descending from here, the rain had stopped and the mist was beginning to clear a bit. We were sure we could see something shining behind the clouds. Linda decided that it was the sun and that by the time we got to the summit of Slieve Loughshannagh we would be able to enjoy our snacks in sunshine. Believe it or not, she was right! The sun came out, the mist lifted and we could see right out to the sea and also see right back to the hills we had just done. We could see how craggy the top of Slieve Bearnagh was. We managed to take lots of photos from here which kind of made up for the lack of photos taken earlier. We then followed the wall and the track back down and out to the road. The last part of our walk took us along the tarmac road past the Fofanny Dam, it was only about four kilometres but it felt longer. Kenny did make an effort to come and collect us but by the time he got to us we were only a five minute walk from the hostel, but he did bring beers for us. Irene and Mark declined the lift and raced the bus back without spilling a spot of beer.
Saturday evening?s meal was booked at the Maghera Inn. It was a lovely meal, marred only by Maureen mistaking an Irish tenner for a ?20 note and having us all accusing each other of not paying!!!!! Lol?..After she realised her mistake she did have the guts to own up though and we all had a good laugh about it. There was some live music and we had a great time trying to plan a wedding for two of our members who were happy to encourage us and wind us up to a frenzy. We continued the party back at the hostel in order to let Malcolm have a wee cider or two. That man is so patient. He has ferried us about for two days and he hasn?t lost his temper or his patience once.

Dorothy McGhee

Cloud lifting
Malcolm and Mark
A pair of beggars
slieve meelmore
Wet summit of Meelmore
Slieve Bearnagh
Dorothy on Mourne Wall
Malcolm knackered
Irene Gail Mark and Kenny
Maureen and Lydia
Linda and Jacqui
Kenny Lydia Dorothy and Aileen

Photos: Irene Cahill

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