Andrew was instantly back on track and we hurriedly packed our rucksacks with the essentials and were on our way, leaving home at 12ish. By this stage I think our friend Gary had possibly been and gone home from an early photography session in the Mournes. Oh the shame, first for our tardiness and second, for the awful weather he had encountered.
And we were eventually at the Carrick Little car park, which by the way, was overflowing and spilling down the wee country road, car parked behind car. But ever the optimist, Andrew drove into the car park proper and there was a beautiful space just for us, right by the track. Off we went.....
There's a fork in the path and at this were we turned left instead of right. Turning left is a big deal, you have a mountain in front of you, a not so great path and the Mourne Wall stretching up into the clouds which you are going to follow and eventually surpass...eventually. I can admit, there was a little lump in my throat as I looked up; you couldn't even see the top.
Around 3 o'clock we had a lovely little family step to one side to let us continue up whilst they checked on their little girl who was only about 3. Now she was awesome and I high-fived her and told her as much. She'd climbed a good way up in her proper gear and it impressed me so much! :) She give me hope that this wasn't so bad :)
False summits are so very cruel. As I came to each point on the sky line that I had marked in my mind, I discovered that still there was so much more to climb. The first time I thought I might just lie down and quietly die was 15.45. We were starting to get quite high up and my blood pressure was playing up giving me the first of the fun, coloured flashing disco lights of the day. Also I had a damned runny nose. *Shakes fist* Andrew then in helping me up stood on my shoe lace and undid it = bending over to tie it on a slant with rucksack on back = blood rush to head again = thoughts of I'm definitely going to die. Plus, the sheep, the sheep there were mocking me.
|Cocky sheep and a view of the path and all the way down to the sea|
Not much wall left at this stage and no distinguished path at all, bog had taken over and we walked were we could get a foothold. At the final push up to the tor I became a disbeliever, doubted my sanity, doubted the sanity of any hiker, doubted that I'd make it up, along, down (way over there) and all the way back to the car. But, Andrew shook me out of all that and whilst I never wanted to be a rock climber, I found, through helpful hand pulls and shear stubbornness - I am just like a mountain goat, maybe a gazelle.
Then somehow it happened. I was at the top of a mountain! As I sat there in the dirt between strange and beautifully wind sculptured rocks, a wonderful euphoria came over me. I wobbled to my feet again, turned round and walked four of five steps and saw this view. I believe I cursed quite loudly, but wow, this was f@#king beautiful!
|At the top and 'that' view over the back of the mountain with the Silent Valley Reservoir|
I heard Andrew call, he'd found a spot with shelter for lunching in and we had celebratory little beers! Oh they tasted of sweet, sweet hoppy victory. Never has a ham and cheese bap been so rewarding, never, I tell you has Cadbury's chocolate tasted so good. We devoured it all, grinning at each other. Then Andrew reminded me we were under a large tor so, conquer it we must to claim our - First Ever Submit!
|'You are here' and mini beer and bap (we also drank litres of water throughout the walk!)|
With the temporary courage of a beer we each packed up and set about on our way again, this time along a truly beautiful and exquisitely quiet path behind the The Back Castles and to the North Tor. Up here is is all bubble bees, little chaffinches (which sing so loud and clear) and bog, which means gorse, heather and wild primroses. Truly it was a joy to walk this route and the scenery was stunning; our wee country is truly a green and pleasant land.
|Heading off for the Back Castles to the North Tor and a fabulous Black Castle that looks like Janus|
|The Whale in the wall and a view of the lovely Ben Crom Reservoir|
|There's a shear, rocky and torturous drop over that edge and the lovely Blue Lough|
When we finally got to level ground, the clouds were starting to close in and one big beauty had formed in between the ring of summits we now walked within. We didn't stop at the Blue Lake as planned as it was getting cold, but the rest of the way was fine and dandy. I like a path not to rocky and relatively flat, though two streams have to be danced over, balancing on carefully placed rocks. Thank goodness for yoga!
We got ourselves back to our car for 8.15, almost in the dark but not quite. Houses were little specks of light now looking down towards the sea and we were done. Getting those backpacks off and setting them in the boot of the car was joy, sitting down in the car was such sweet agony.
What a day.
Love and hugs