A SCOTTISH DREAM (and a bit of my story…)

Some tough-going, high mountain ground and munros as far as the eye can see: the E ridge of Ben Starav (Scotland)

Fourteen years. Fourteen years I had not been back to Scotland. I had only been there once actually, in April 2003. An eight-day road-trip, with only two walks. Since almost a year, I keep dreaming about these wild, wide open spaces of moorlands and countless lakes and mountains, and especially these scary munros which rise so steeply above the Highlands. And now I can hear you ask: what is a munro ?

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FIRST DAY IN THE MOURNE MOUNTAINS: FROM SLIEVE MUCK TO BUTTER MOUNTAIN

My second article will take you to the heart of the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland, about one hour driving distance S of Belfast. After so many trips on the Emerald Isle, it was about time for me to visit this popular area, one of the only main mountain ranges I had not yet set foot on. In my quest of climbing all of the Irish +500m summits, I had only visited two in Northern Ireland, Slieve Croob (539m) and Slieve Gullion (574m), respectively N and WSW of the Mournes. A few days’ trip last November would allow me to add a few others to my personal list…

A CHOICE OF ROUTES UNDER BEAUTIFUL NOVEMBER SKIES…

But why November ? Not the best period for hill-walking, usually wet, dull and cold and the days are short. But I have been in Ireland every year in November since 2012 and the weather has not always been that bad. The only thing is, you need an early start if you intend to complete long walks or you will have a night finish.

The Mournes are definitely the ideal place for a peak-bagger like me. The summits are relatively close to each other and most of them can be accessed with good trails -which is rather unusual in Ireland. If the weather allows, I could bag quite a few of the 35 +500m listed summits during these four days. And there is a great choice in linear routes or loops. Therefore, I will decide of my first route only on the previous night…

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Thick clouds rolling over the summit of Slieve Muck…

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