Saturday, 10 April 2010

Night in the Hills

I managed to squeeze in an overnight wildcamp in the Mournes before getting ready to start back to work. I'd planned to go 2 weekends ago but the weather was bad and I was still suffering from a cold so decided to postpone it. I was off work all week and as Marcus was off work and the weather was settled we decided to go down to the Mournes on Thursday afternoon and come back on Friday. I wanted to get back before the weekend proper as I had some things to do at home.

It was really just a chance to get out as most of the gear had already been tried with the exception of the Goosefeet down socks which had only been tried out in the garden and of course a 1st try out with my new ULA Conduit.

Marcus had managed to pick up an older model Pro Action Hike Lite in green off ebay so he needed some extra loops added like I'd done on my own (and his other) Hike Lite. In addition to the new tent he had a new Sleeping bag, an Alpkit PD600.

I decided to take the Alpkit PD200 and used a 3/4 length Karrimor self inflate mat with a full length 3mm CCF to which I'd added 2 short pieces of 8mm CCF. I made this as it's easier to fold up to form a back support for the ULA Conduit. Like the last time out before Christmas I used the Phreeranger flysheet and silnylon footprint. We were both using EK meths burners and cone type windshields.

We hadn't any definite plans but we were parked up by 4.30 and inevitably ended up on Slieve Bearnagh. It was easy to find a nice level spot between the two tops and it was pretty sheltered as the Mourne wall runs across the saddle between both tops.

I'd been messing around with the dehydrator again and had brought a Spaghetti Bolognese although as I don't have complete confidence in my culinary skills I'd packed a 'Real Turmat' meal as a back-up.

As we were pitched up pretty early there was plenty of time to wander around before making something to eat. The spaghetti Bolognese was fine and after sitting around we decided to go back up to the summit tor to take some photos.

It was almost dark by then and as we were pitched on the side of the southish wall we were looking into the middle of the Mournes with the view north towards Belfast hidden from view. I was almost up at the summit tor before I looked around and was surprised by the lights from all the towns and villages to the north.

It wasn't too breezy and the temperature was above freezing but standing around my hands soon began to feel cold although I was otherwise fine wearing an ME Xero jacket which was to serve as the top half of my sleeping bag. We eventually settled in around 11.00pm and I changed into my baselayer and pulled on the down socks. I had the 3/4 length mat inside the bivvy bag and decided to make a hot drink before bedding down. I must have fallen asleep waiting for my drink to cool as I wakened with a jump at 12.00 to find my drink well and truly cooled, not wanting to waste it I drank it anyway.

I wakened again at around 4.00am, went back to sleep but wakened again thinking that I'd forgotten to switch off either the tent light or head torch, it was simply that it was morning, 7.30 or so. The wind had swung around in the night and was now hitting the front of my tent but after a quick breakfast we packed up and walked back down to the Trassey track and then on to the car park at Meelmore lodge. We met quite a few people on our way down and with the sun now shining and the temperature rising it looked like they were in for a nice day out.

We were back home at around 12.00, the journey taking about 2 hours or so.

There were no gear related problems this time, everything is pretty much refined now but unfortunately I'll be starting the end of week shift now so it'll probably be a month before I get out again.


  1. Great hills and great photos. Those hills do look so good. Kit wise you guys seem to have a good system going.

  2. Those short trips are sometimes some of the best and it reminded me a little of the 24 series from Ryan Jordan.

    Stunning weathered rock formations and loved the photo with the two tents lit by night. I need to get out again.

  3. The evening/ night photos are stunning. Also the landscape looks very interesting otherwise, it looks like the snow disappeared not too long ago and now spring is coming - it looks similar in the city here, but the forest is another story.

  4. A classic mourne mountain wild camp, nice one, love the photos

  5. Thanks for the comments, it wasn't the most exciting outing but still enjoyable. A bit rushed but worth it.

  6. I could have done with some of those Goosefeet on my trip this weekend past. Actually, I had that exact thought when I was on the hill aftere seeing you previous post! £40 is very reasonable...

    How did you find the Conduit?

    It looks like a fine rocky location and a nice flat camp spot!

  7. Hi Fraser, the Goosefeet socks are definitely worth having, at the price/weight whats not to like.

    The ULA Conduit was fine, I used a folded closed cell mat as a back panel this time (rather than rolled) I didn't find any problems with hip belt or shoulder straps but again with a light load almost any shoulder strap/hipbelt will work. The hip belt pockets aren't the best but I only used 1 and it was fine in practice. With a base weight around 6kg and using compact gear it should be fine but of course you can go lighter with an MLD pack like Martins (Summit and Valley

  8. Spectacular features and scenery. I walked in the Mournes a (very) little in the mid 1980s, but had no idea how beautiful it was higher up. Lovely photos!

  9. I didn't realise ash from a volcano in NI was responsible for all the flight chaos Richard! :)

    (4th piccie down)

    Mike fae Dundee

  10. Aye I think it was a spelling mistake, Ireland rather than Iceland :-)

  11. How have I missed this blog - fantastic pictures and great report. Thanks

  12. Thanks Shamus, thats a cracking sunset shot on your current page.