The first Columbanus walk of 2017 saw nine of us meet at 8.30 on Saturday 7th in the church car park on a fine mild dry January morning. It was good to meet and welcome two new walkers, Louise and Susan, who joined us for our day in the Mournes. We drove to the starting point of Banns Road carpark 7 kms north of Kilkeel near Slievenagore where we met up with Hill Wilson, our guide for the day.

At 10.00 we set off up the gently sloping old drovers’ road called the Lough Shannagh track which ascended gradually over 6kms to the lough with views of Doan, Ben Crom and Slieve Bearnagh. Lough Shannagh (the lake of the fox) is the largest body of water in the Mournes that is not man made. Ten thousand years ago, not long after the ice had disappeared from the lowlands, many patches remained in hollows high in the hills. Located at 390 metres in a wilderness area, the deep blue waters of Lough Shannagh occupy a corrie at the foot of Carn Mountain surrounded by a ring of deeply carved peaks.

On the way up we crossed the Miners Hole River which flows in to the Silent Valley reservoir. It is said to owe its name to the (unsuccessful) prospecting by Cornish miners looking for deposits of tin and lead ore. We enjoyed a noon lunch break on the lough shore and suitably refreshed decided to take the high loop return route. We ascended on a track which took us up to a col between Slieve Lough Shannagh and Carn at the Mourne Wall where we were rewarded with views to the west of Fofanny and Spelga reservoirs. We continued with the wall to the summit of Carn Mountain at 587 metres, our high point of the day.

We started our long descent due south alongside another wall and rejoined the drovers route back to the car park with the ravens circling overhead. Having extended the walk to about 14km, it was now 16.00 and so we decided to forego the usual coffee stop on the return journey and headed straight back home.

Maurice Mehaffey

Added by: RobbieJackson
Added on: Thursday 12th January 2017

Category: Walkers

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