Dropping down the northern side of Slieve Binnian.
In Part 2 of this series, I left it as I had finished exporing the summit tor on Slieve Binnian. I now walked northwards, dropping down this side of Binnian, making my way towards Slieve Binnian North Tor, and Slieve Binnian North Top, both listed as separate summits by Mountainviews.ie. I wasn’t finished with Slieve Binnian itself yet though. Although this next part of the walk was short, not much more than a kilometer, it took me an inordinately long time due to the amount of fascinating rock features on the way, each of which I felt compelled to fully explore. There were several beautifully shaped tors on this side of Binnian, and I spent a long time admiring and photographing them.
Looking back uphill to the main summit tor on Binnian, covered in Part 2.
The magnificent rock structures would be reward enough for your efforts in getting up here, but if you lift your eyes, you are greeted with the sight of the stunning Mourne Mountains all around.
At this point I was intrigued by a huge boulder, incorporated into a dry stone wall. Its long shape and the perfectly round depression at one end, made it look like some mythical beast, half giant slug, half whale, making its way up the mountainside. I don’t know if the circular “eye” is a natural feature, or was fashioned by human hands, ancient or modern, who also saw an animal in the boulder’s shape. I haven’t been able to find any reference to it on-line, so if anyone reading this knows anything about it, I would welcome any information in the comments.
The monster-like boulder, “crawling” up the mountain side.
This short part of the walk took me a long time, as I wandered round the rock structures.
Perilously close to the Beast of Binnian!
The view towards Slieve Donard.
Near the lowest point now, on the ridge between Slieve Binnian and Slieve Binnian North Top, which is the rounded top in the centre of the frame, with Slieve Binnian North Tor being the rocky formation on the left.
A look backwards.
Looking across Binnian Lough.
I was now at the lowest point on the route between Binnian and Binnian North Top. There was a track on these much walked mountains that now skirted the eastern side of Binnian North Top, avoiding its rounded summit, making instead for the more interesting Slieve Binnian North Tor, yet another magnificent rocky tor. It looked like many people didn’t bother with the North Top at all, which is maybe not surprising given its more imposing neighbours. For now, I decided to do the same and head for the North Tor, but I knew I would visit its summit on the way back, as most of the height was already gained on Binnian, and it would take very little effort to “bag” it.
Looking back up to Binnian.
The North Tor.
Binnian Lough and the coast beyond. My starting point was down at the green fields between the forest and the sea.
Although the North Top and North Tor are very close together and there isn’t much of a drop in altitude between them, it is enough for them to qualify as separate summits on Mountainviews.ie, and I always accept their take on these things. It seems fitting that the North Tor should be considered a separate peak, as the closer I got, the more imposing and impressive it looked.
Viewed larger, you can just see some sheep amid the rocks on the North Tor, giving a sense of scale.
A glance back at Slieve Binnian.
Slieve Binnian and its sister peaks really are an awesome place, and having arrived at the North Tor, I again spent a lot of time exploring the rocky top and surroundings.
Moving round the northern edge of the North Tor, and I got my first glimpse of the Ben Crom Reservoir hemmed in by Ben Crom to its west, and Slievelamagan to its east. A little further away, on the right is the distinctive Slieve Bearnagh.
I was mesmerised by this view, and admit I may have gone a bit overboard taking photos from slightly different viewpoints!
The view towards Doan mountain, and Lough Shanna.
It is possible with care to pick a path up to the top of the Tor, and having come this far, I did so, scrambling among the huge rocks on the way.
Looking through a gap in the rocky tor.
It was now time to double back, and head back to my starting point, taking a similar route to the way in, with diversions to take in two more summits, Slieve Binnian North Top, and Slieve Binnian East Top, both of which I had by-passed on the walk in, more of which in the 4th and final part.