After meeting my hiking group members on Saturday at Meelmore lodge, we headed up for the really rewarding Gems of the Mournes hike. I might add that whilst waiting in the car park, not in the Meelmore lodge cafe, because the opening time of 8:30am had slightly shifted to about 9 ish, which I believe was due to an oversleeping issue. This would have you think that it's a bad start if you can't get your morning wet (Tea/Coffee), however as on many occasions I was proven wrong, which I'm really glad about. On this hike we had a fellow from Galway called Haulie (that's basically Paulie but with an H), he had traveled a long way for this hike and I wanted to give him a really nice day to remember.
Anyway, we headed up the trassy trail.The landscape and visibility was opening, presenting stunning views of snow capped peaks and we ended up taking the high trail to Hare's Gap, a nice and easy break into the day, we did however get followed by someone else's dog, which was bigger and trying to get freaky with my dog, Charlie?!!?, who looked quite discomforted, probably because the other dog was a lad too. Reaching Hare's gap and with the dogs separated, we took on some water and attacked the summit of Slieve Beanagh, this was quite a tricky evolution, due to frozen ground and ice under thin layers of snow, reaching the summit we also had some very strong winds and visibility kept closing, giving us almost white out scenarios, luckily it kept opening up again just as fast.
Once down we had a bit of lunch and cracked on to Doan, in my humble opinion the nicest mountain in the Mournes. Once there we were all gobsmacked by the 360° views, and for me personally, it's the same everytime, spectacular.
After descending the craggy top of Doan we then headed back to complete our loop, passing between Slieve Loughshannagh and Slieve Meelbeg, where we picked up the Mourne Way, bringing us back to Meelmore Lodge. Although I fell into a squidgy bog as per usual and Haulie decided to have an accidental lie down in a stream minutes before reaching the lodge, it was an amazing day and a great achievement for Mike and Haulie, especially Haulie as he has fairly recently taken up hiking, great effort on his part in tricky conditions.
Big Cheers to Mike G and Haulie for a cracking day, hope you keep on hiking and hope to see you on another hike or expedition soon.