Slieve Bearnagh North Tor from the Trassey Track.
In my last two posts I’ve given an account of my walk up to Slieve Bearnagh North Tor and Slieve Bearnagh, starting from Meelmore Lodge. I’d left it on top of Slieve Bearnagh where I’d taken a long time appreciating the summit tor and the views around the rest of the Mournes. It was now time to head back taking a slightly different route. On the way in, I had made my to the Trassey Track, following it up to Hare’s Gap – a pass between Bearnagh and Slievenaglogh. Now, I would descend the opposite side of Slieve Bearnagh, to Pollaphuca, a similar pass on the col between Bearnagh and Slieve Meelmore.
The way up Slieve Bearnagh North Tor had been extremely steep, but this way down Slieve Bearnagh was even steeper, and great care was needed not to take a tumble, with the use of hands required at some points. Apparently, most accidents in the mountains happen on the way back down, perhaps because that is when you are at your most tired, and maybe a bit complacent, feeling that you’ve done the hard work. A fall on this steep slope would have been potentially serious. I began to go down, keeping the Mourne Wall on my right hand side.
The Mourne Wall descending the slope, disappearing, then re-emerging as it climbs Slieve Meelmore on the other side of the col. It is almost impossible to imagine anyone building a wall up that slope!
Slieve Meelbeg on the left.
Standing on the Mourne Wall looking down a particularly steep part towards the col with Slieve Meelmore, which I was heading for. I was finding the steep going in some places sore on the knees, and was taking a look over to the left side of the wall to see if the going would be any easier there. It looked even worse! It seemed to steepen into a cliff at one point on that side of the wall, so I stayed where I was.
Trying to give an impression of how steep the descent was. You can see the track at the bottom. There, the wall continues up the steep side of Slieve Meelmore, but I would cross the wall instead, and follow the track on the left. This would take me back eventually to the Trassey Track further along, which I had taken on the way in.
Looking back up.
Arriving down on the col, the gap between Bearnagh and Meelmore, I was in an area known as the Pollaphuca, a name shared by a spot at a waterfall and bridge in Co. Wicklow. The name means the “hole of the Puca” in Irish, the Puca being a type of fairy, spirit, sprite or ghost. Descriptions of this creature vary from area to area, and even its nature, whether good or evil, is subject to change. It was keeping a low profile today, and I saw no sign of the Puca!
Heading down to rejoin the Trassey Track.
The slopes of Bearnagh beside me as I made my way down.
The slope behind me.
Slievenaglogh, and I was now near the point where I would rejoin the Trassey Track.
Back on the Trassey Track, looking up the route I had taken on the way in, up to Hare’s Gap.
It can sometimes feel like you’re not making much progress, but when I looked behind me, Bearnagh had receded into the distance.
I was beginning to leave the more rugged terrain of the mountains, and farmland and fields were getting closer.
Across this stile, and I would be back on the farm track to Meelmore Lodge, and I was weary enough at this stage to be looking forward to the finish. You can see the white buildings I was making for at the far end of the long line of the track.
A look back at the mountains as I progressed along the farm track.
A last shot looking along the track that I had set off on earlier in the day.
It had been a brilliant walk, and I would highly recommend the Slieve Bearnagh tops to anyone looking to explore the Mourne Mountains, provided you are prepared for a bit of steep terrain. The views and the summit tors will make it well worthwhile.