Sunday, 11 May 2008

Bloody Bridge Mourne Mountain Walk

I set off at about ten-thirty this morning for another hike in the Mourne Mountains, County Down. I went on my own - the Dowager is bedridden presently.

It was a pleasant drive to the popular Bloody Bridge car park, which is a few miles beyond Newcastle, County Down, in a southerly direction. The park wasn't too busy, so I tucked the two-seater into a nice, private spot beside the public toilets.

About ten years ago, when I drove a BMW saloon, we parked at the same car-park, I went for a hike; and when I returned I couldn't start the car because the battery was flat! It was an automatic and I had no jump-leads, so, embarrassingly, I had to try and find somebody who could help us to start the car with jump-leads! In the end, I found my saviour in the form of a clapped-out old ice-cream van. It was no joke at the time, I can tell you.

Donning the hiking-gear, I set off without further delay. The Bloody Bridge walk is about six and a quarter miles; the round trip takes up to five hours depending on your level of fitness; and it is described as being "strenuous: a sustained, gradual ascent with a steep, final section".

I wish to mention the National Trust for their sterling work managing a large section of the Path; you'd hardly notice any bracken at all now, thus encouraging finer flora to flourish.

The Bloody Bridge Path follows the Bloody Bridge River, the hiker encountering old quarry tracks at times. There are several disused quarries en route. My hike today culminated at the Bog of Donard, which lies between the slopes of Slieve Donard, the Province's highest mountain at 2,788 feet, and Chimney Rock Mountain at 2,152 feet. I sat down for a rest against the Mourne Wall and refreshed myself. There were two groups of young people hiking there too.

Motoring home towards Ballynahinch, County Down, the thermometer in the car read 22c. I felt uplifted after the hike and was glad I'd made the effort.

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