Having made the decision to return the way I came, going back over two mountains I’d already ascended, in order to keep the option open of visiting Mullaghcarbatagh, I paused on top of Mullaghclogha to gather my strength. It gave me the chance to contemplate the route I would be taking, down, then up Mullaghasturrakeen again, followed by another descent and ascent of Mullaghclogher. At that point I could give up and head for the car, or commit to one more summit.
Looking west down the slopes of Mullaghclogha to Mullaghasturrakeen on the left, with Mullaghclogher behind in the centre of the frame, and Mullaghcarbatagh just visible behind that.
A look south to the Glenelly Valley on the descent.
A look back at Mullagclogha
And north to the village of Park in the distance in Co. Derry.
A few more views as my journey westward continued.
Finally re-ascending my first mountain of the day, Mullaghclogher, again pausing to take in the views (and rest the legs).
Just at the north side of Mullaghclogher’s summit, and it was decision time: south along my initial route, or continue west to Mullaghcarbatagh. I was beginning to feel the strain in my legs, but I was so close now, and realistically, I was never going to miss out on the last peak. So it was off with the rucksack, and I sat down for a drink, took in the views over north Tyrone, and gathered my strength for the last leg.
Restarting, I rounded the summit of Mullaghclogher on its northern side, and Mullaghcarbatagh came into sight, looking inviting in the evening sun.
The gound began to take on a character different from what I was used to in the Sperrins, becoming much rockier. This variety certainly helped to stave off any signs of fatigue, and spurred me on. Mullaghcarbatagh also looked interesting, with its steep slopes on this approach, and the summit cairn clearly visible.
Getting close now, and I could see a northern minor summit of Mullaghcarbatagh with its own impressive looking cairn.
I reached the final, steep section just before the summit, and paused again for breath, and a look back at Mullaghclogher from this new angle.
The steep slope was a challenge after a long day’s walking, but it was mercifully short, and at last I reached the last peak of the day. I was amply rewarded with great views, and probably the best constructed summit cairn I have seen.
Looking southeast to Bessy Bell into the evening sun.
West over Tyrone.
Northeast to Co. Derry.
A last look at the cairn backed by big skies.
Time to think about the route back to the car (I would have loved to visit the lower cairn on the northeast of Mullaghcarbatagh, but I was beat). This valley below, would take me back to the Glenelly Valley, and I had the choice of taking one of the slopes on either side, both having tracks emerging from the bog. Eventually each would turn into a tarred road as they neared the valley. I decided on the slope on the western side of the valley below, on the right side of the frame.
The track I was making for as I descended, would skirt the eastern side of Eden Hill on the way to the main road, but to reach the track, I first had to make my way over some of the roughest terrain of the day, with high rushes, pitted ground and boggy holes. The day’s exertions seemed to catch up with me all at once, as if my body knew the last target of the day was now behind me. My legs were leaden as I gratefully reached the track. I had used all my water, and my lips and throat were parched, coated in the novel Saharan dust, and I trudged along robotically, barely looking up. It took some stunning views to raise any entusiasm at this stage and muster the energy to lift the camera.
I met a couple of farmers here, who confirmed in response to my queries, that if was fine to use the track. They were very friendly and I stood talking to them for half an hour, glad of the break from walking. They were full of information on the places I had walked, and confirmed that the track would soon turn into a minor road and take me back to the valley. I took my leave and plodded on, stopping only once more for a final couple of photos.
I realised that this last shot almost exactly mirrors the very first photo I had taken that morning, and which is the first image that appears in part 1 of this series of posts. I remembered driving up this road as part of my scouting before starting, and it had been one of the routes I had rejected, although it would have been perfect. I was a little crestfallen to realise I still had about 2 o 3 kilometres to go, and when I finally made it, I more or less collapsed into the car! Sitting down soon revived me however, and the short drive to Plumbridge allowed me to restock on liquids too. I was revitalised, and able to look back with pleasure on a fantastic day’s walking spent in the wonderful Sperrin Mountains. Back at home, I could enjoy reliving the journey via the photos, including this one of where the whole idea began.