At 6.30am on the 26th August, to the sight of a stunning sunrise, boots were laced up, water bottles topped up and off we set to start the Mourne Wall Challenge – following the length of the wall over 15 peaks and a distance of around 30km, hoping we’d finish before darkness fell.
The first section is tough – climbing Binian – where we met a 70 year old running the wall in the opposite direction! The 650m climb up Binian is worth it for the stunning views at the top over Silent Valley and the Mournes.
Onwards and downwards – down a very steep slope with a few tumbles, losing all the height we’d gained. Silent Valley was stunning and truly silent. We knew that the first part of the walk would be the worst – in the first 10km or so we’d be gaining half the height of the total climb, so onwards and upwards over Slievnaglogh and a quick break before tackling Slieve Muck. We realised why this is an lesser known part of the Mournes – much tougher and less tracks! On the way up Muck we met our runner friend who seemed concerned we wouldn’t be finishing in daylight which was encouraging!
With Slieve Muck conquered we knew the worst of the height gain was behind us and on we marched over Carn, Slieve Loughshannagh, Meelbeg and Meelmore – gradually meeting more people en route. With clear skies and legs getting tired we pushed on, discovering that walking on the wall was easier than the uneven ground. We had wistful memories of the paths and tracks last year on the 4 peaks challenge…
With Slieve Carragh and Commedagh behind us all that was left in terms of heigh gain was Donard, although we were distracted by the rescue helicopter over Bearnagh wondering if it was an exercise or an unfortunate walker getting lifted off the mountain.
With much relief we hit the Donard summit, knowing it was (mostly) downhill back to the cars. To avoid the Donard Bog we hopped back up on the wall and enjoyed a smooth walk – truly the Mourne Wall challenge at this point.
Ready for home and dreaming of dinner the last part always takes longer than you think and following a non-existent wall through a forest that was deeper than we imagined resulted in Sam fighting a losing battle with brambles!
Around 13 hours after leaving the carpark we arrived back – tired, hungry and a little worried how our legs would cope with the drive home!
Thankfully we made it and are so grateful to over 40 people who sponsored us and helped us to reach our fundraising target of €1500. If you’d still like to give its not too late – click here (or if you are in the UK here).
Time to clean and wax the boots until next year….