Denise (new ladies' record holder) & Dale Mathers, and Mark King, 13/07/21

Denise, Dale and Mark, all smiles - meaning it must have been about 2 days later


Starting out at 5:15am from Spelga Dam (with 20m visibility) the three of us was were excited but apprehensive of what lay ahead. We headed up Slievenamiskan first even though it is not a 500 we thought it better to stick with a track rather than get lost within the first 10 minutes. So compass and bearings out when we hit the Cock summits.

5:15am, the visibility was gloomy, but the mood was not!

Having decided on a different route this time (albeit the same route Shane and Stephen had gone on their record breaking round last year) it was a straight bearing to the Windy Gap over some rough ground. Hitting the Windy Gap spot on it was up Eagle , Shanlieve and then out and back to Finlieve. As we summited Eagle we emerged through the cloud to a magnificent cloud inversion and though and behold a clear view of Finlieve – (Happy Days).

So quickly over to Finlieve but by the time we turned to come back to Shanlieve the cloud was back , so some navigation was required to get us back.

Back to the windy Gap and then up Moughanmore and the Pigeon Rock summits down to the Deers Meadow – Time taken was 3:30. Whilst descending Pigeon Rock we encountered Ciaran McAleenan who was on the newly designed Mourne 600’s route. We ascended Muck together where at this point we parted company with Ciaran as we contoured out to the lower point on Muck. Cloud was still thick and I was glad of all the bearings I had noted.

All good going to Carn and leaving the wall at the Ott style we headed out to Doan and then over to Ben Crom , just as we hit Ben Crom the sun broke through and the glorious Mourne’s were revealed. We got a good line of Ben Crom down to the Ben Crom Dam. We reached the Dam in exactly 6 hours.  At this point the sun was getting very hot and we thought we could be in trouble with the heat.

Denise proud to show off her "Up The Mourne Bumps" cap

The sun beat down as we climbed Binnian which was a tough climb with not much chat from Mark at this stage. We took the three points on Binnian and returned to the Lamagan col via the Binnian Lough. By this stage the cloud had built up a bit which made the sun not as strong and there was also a nice cooling breeze from time to time.

As always the Lamagan climb is never enjoyable but had to be done , once over we made good progress over Cove and Beg. We exchanged waves to Ciaran as we climbed Beg while he was descending to the Cove col.

Next a run round the Brandy Pad to the Bog of Donard to do the Chimney Rock loop, we did this clockwise – Chimney first then Spences and Rocky. Good decision as would not like to have climbed Spences – the heather was very heavy here.

Two men outstanding in their field

A short food break was taken back at the Bog of Donard before we headed for Crossone. I think we were all quietly dreading the climb up Donard from Crossone. Not to disappoint we were right – it was dreadful. Although I felt we were on the home straight now – sure only to follow the wall back (with a few out shoots) to Ott style with only 4 of the seven 7’s to do. Easy!!!!

We made it to Shan Slieve in exactly 12 hours - now we started to think what time could we make it back to Spelga – 15 hours something was being hopeful. Having picked up water as various points (found some nice water sources on way round) we headed to the Commedagh pipe to refill – hoping this would get us home.  

Along the wall then out to Slievenaglogh point we got to the Hare’s Gap , the climb up Bernagh was tough and by the time I was starting to climb Meelmore I had nothing left in the tank. I think the guys realised my lack of movement and quickly feed me some sweets, these revived me and with Pete’s pipe to refill with water again I managed to get over Meelmore. From Meelbeg we could see the finish at Splega which gave us a lift.

We continued over Loughshannagh, Ott and the final 500 summit Slievenamuck (commonly known as Butter) we descended with a gentle jog back down to the Spelga car park, finishing in a time of 15:05 hrs.

Brilliant day out was had by all.

(Report by Denise Mathers)