Ulster MPC 2007

(19th - 21th Oct)
Mourne Mountains, Co. Down

Background
The Mournes are a small group of mountains, compact within an elliptical area of about 14 miles by 7 miles. There are 35 summits over 1500 feet high as well as a large number of interesting geological features such as corrie lakes, buttresses etc. The Mournes are composed of granite which is a hard, tough rock with a distinctive appearance. They were formed around 50 million years ago and since then have been subject to many climatic changes. The glaciers of the last Ice Age helped widen and deepen the Silent valley and also caused the formation of many of the rock buttresses to be seen in the Mournes.

The other major feature in the Mournes is of course the Mourne Wall. The wall is made of large granite slabs that were quarried locally from the mountain sides. Work stared in 1910 and finished in 1922. The wall runs over the tops of 15 mountains, covering 22 miles and encloses around 9000 acres. The wall was built by Belfast Water Commissioners to define their catchment area. This area has an annual rainfall of around 70 inches.

The route that you will be walking this weekend will cover the summits of the western Mournes and will give excellent views of the Silent Valley and Ben Crom reservoirs as well as the spectacular Slieve Bearnagh and Doan.

How to get there
Travelling from Newry, travel on the A2 to Warrenpoint and on to Rostrevor. From Rostrevor continue on the A2 towards Kilkeel. Turn left at the juction at 265 154 and head to the small village of Attical. Follow the road to the main carpark (285 215).

Note
This map has a very large scale 1:25,000 (approx. 2 inches = 1 mile) so distances can be deceiving. Each grid box is 1km X 1km in size. Also the distances in the Mournes can de very deceptive so the route may look much further than it is in reality. The contour interval is every 10 metres. Because of the large scale the six figure grid references are to the nearest whole number. All teams should make themselves familiar with the names of the major features such as mountains, lakes, tracks etc..

The following route outline is the proposed route for the weekend. However this route is very much subject to change because of such things as weather conditions, staffing, participants ability etc. Therefore the route can change and this should be borne in mind by all participants. The same campsite will be used for both nights and each team member will require a daypack for the Saturday route.

 

Route Outline

Friday - Car park (285 215) to Basecamp (289 243)
Leave the carpark and follow the road to the smaller carpark at 285 215. From here follow the track into the mountains until it is intersected by the Mourne Wall. Follow the wall to base camp

Saturday (Day Hike)

Main Route
Basecamp to river/wall juction 288 254
River/wall juction 288 254 to col 285 260
Col 285 260 to Carn Mtn 287 260
Carn Mtn 287 260 to Spot Height 290 264
Spot Height 290 264 to Slieve Loughshannagh (292 268) via col.
Slieve Loughshannagh (292 268) to Col 297 274
Col 297 274 to Slieve Meelbeg 301 279
Slieve Meelbeg 301 279 to Col 303 281
Col 303 281 to Slieve Meelmore 306 287
Slieve Meelmore 306 287 to col at 309 283
From here you can follow the track back in a south westerly direction passing around Lough Shanagh on the eastern side all the way to base camp. However weather and time permitting the following extension may be added;
Col at 309 283 to Slieve Bearnagh 314 282
Slieve Bearnagh 314 282 to ridge end 317 269
Ridge end 317 269 to Ben Crom 314 262
Leave Ben Crom 314 262 in a NW direction and follow track to 304 268. Now turn in a SW direction passing Lough Shanagh on the eastern side and follow the track back to base camp.

Sunday

The route initially departs along the same route as Saturday's hike.
Basecamp to river/wall juction 288 254
River/wall juction 288 254 to col 285 260
Col 285 260 to Slieve Muck (282 250) following the Wall
Slieve Muck (282 250) to spot height 279 244
Spot height 279 244 to Spot Height 276 238
Taking the least steep route possible descend carefully towards the wall corner at 283 226. From here follow the wall around and pick up the track to the main road and on to the carpark.

Well done!