I got a Saturday off work! so Mike and I made last minute arrangements to try the Mourne Wall in a day as training for the GR20 in September. Due to the early start, we decided to camp the night before in Annalong wood, then ditch the gear back in the car at Carricklittle before starting.
It was 11pm before we sat down at the bivvy spot. Repellant on, pipe out, emergency chocolate rations and various tipples consumed as we chatted about broccoli until about 1am.
A fox visited camp shortly after we sat down, so bags were placed by our heads and covered with branches to slow any iPlod style night attacks.
Going to sleep so late, we sort of didn’t wake up so early, but at 6.30 the sun and an itchy head finally opened my eyes to a backlit cloud of the midges. The repellent seems to stop them biting but the crawling was irritating. I shook them off and employed my sleeping bag’s midge net, then saw the time and tried to rouse Mike. We cleared camp in record time and ate breakfast back in the carpark.
Started about 8.15 but passed the wall to visit the woods again (ask a bear), then continued up Binnian the long way. After that, we stuck to the route (and touching all the real summits) and generally took our time and had a nice day of it: being passed early on by an old boy who told us he once ran the wall in 4.5 hrs, knocked any notion of trying to rush out the window. Silent Valley coffee shop was a nice break before careful negotiation of boggy sections as Mike tried to break the record for the 1st person to complete the Wall in mesh shoes and keep dry feet.
It was a scorching day and fresh water is a bit scarce in sections, but what we failed to drink we made up for with eating. After a nice wee scramble to the top of Muck we ran down and over Carn, then just on the downhills until Meelmore. Resting on top of Bernagh we were really needing water and started to worry if we could get back in time to find a chippy still open. Thankfully, the pipe on Commedagh came to the rescue with abundant refreshment.
We started up Donard at nearly 8pm and were at the bloody bridge saddle less than an hour later, at which point we hit the express travelator of the wall-top and flew back to Annalong wood, enjoying awesome evening light and some mind bending visuals due to the parallax between the wall and the ground. In the growing darkness we then slowed down again in slippy grass, tall spiky things and deep mud, following the wall down to the river and back up a steep field to the car park trail. 14hrs, a few aches, some sunburn, but we got a sit-in chippy before the tired drive home.
No records or bones broken, but a quality, long day in the hills experiencing great views, variety of terrain, watching climbers do crazy things, and discussing our trip preparations. No more days off; it’ll be urban training from now on in!