Feet in the sky

img_2660I have come to the conclusion that walking in the hills by yourself is kind of the gold standard walking experience. People are all right but they’re over rated.

Though walking in the hills with the dog is probably a step up again. Unfortunately she was kidnapped and taken to Newry by the in-laws –  though i call them in-laws, they’re not actually my in-laws, more my brother’s in-laws and despite the fact I would have liked a walk in the hills with the dog, the dog itself actually quite enjoys the wee trips to Newry. Though the dog would enjoy anything.

The Mournes are kind of pretty mountains, in a really wild, bleak way. Unfortunately they’re about as boggy as the rest of the country – Ireland is in fact one big giant bog until we put tarmac and concrete over a few bits of it. img_2675

Which means at any time of the year, the ground is inevitably wet underfoot, be it mid-drought or mid summer. There are however exceptions, like right now, when it’s cold enough to stick your tongue to a lamp post. Which means all the wonderful bogginess freezes solid and you can walk where you want without sinking up to your ankles. There is some degree of method to my madness you see.

I’ve become a fan of tunes while I walk, (mixture today of Sigur Ros, Loney Dear and Iain Archer) changing from someone who was a little bit of a purist when it comes to hill walking – that none of the technology of the outside world should be able to intrude. But then I remembered that would mean sacrificing Gore-tex and decent boots and Mars bars and that would never do.

Spelga Dam

I did get accosted by one Berghaus laden chap who said good morning and followed it by a little unsolicited advice that i should maybe lose the headphones. Reflecting since I realise I could have answered in a variety of ways:

1) “depends what you’re listening to…” with an enigmatic smile as if somehow I was listening to GOD himself playing Radiohead covers

2) “at least it means I don’t have to hear what useless bastards like you have to say for yourself” while flipping him the bird.

3) “it’s actually my sat nav…- turn right at the dead sheep…”img_27011

and so on.

Though I didn’t say any of the above, though thinking up rude things i could have said kept me occupied for a good ten minutes.

When I was 15 or 16 and into my real hill-waking phase, I used to think the mournes were huge, somewhere you could walk in and get lost for weeks and end, though having seen a bit of the world I realise that you can see from one end to another on a clear day and walk near all the peaks in a couple of days. For some reason I also kept thinking about skiing on Ruapehu in NZ. Damn it.

img_2698Lunch consisted of a baguette, some sausages and cheese left over from yesterday and the all important flask of coffee and a Mars bar. I had this on top of Slieve Bernagh in a chill wind that occasionally would blow a dense cloud over the summit. At one point I had 8 layers of clothing on, sitting on my bum on a rock reading Slaughter House 5. Kind of hard to beat.

Top moment probably goes to sitting on the cliffs overlooking Ben Crom reservoir, wondering how much free fall I’d get before I hit the water – not in any suicidal kind of way, just wondering.

Came home and proceeded to sit in the bath for a good hour and a bit finishing off the book. I always figure it’s a good day, when you’ve a whole book read in about 12 hours…


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November 2008
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