We must have rested well over an hour lying on the heather taking it easy watching the world go by.
How many times have you passed by a mountain or wood and thought to yourself “I’ll have to take a dander up there some day?” Last week Spud and myself took the opportunity to do exactly that. Our first port of call was Crocknafeola wood located along the moyad road under the shadow of Slievemageogh Mountain.
Parking the car just off road on a forest track, we walked the spruce lined pathway downhill towards a clearing. Crocknafeola wood covers an area of around five acres and is a mixture of scrubland, Douglas fir and spruce. There are a number of trails throughout the wood, but we followed the trail towards the summit, which had prominent views towards the village of Attical and Slievemageogh, which runs down off Pigeon Rock.
We followed a different route off the summit, which contoured around, to the front of the woods facing the Moyad road before rejoining our earlier trail. Crocknafeola woods are certainly worth an explore, with rewarding views across the landscape for relatively little effort.
Next it was onto Knockchree, which was a short drive through the village of Attical next to Aughrim hill, which has a number of masts on it. We made our way down the Ballymageogh road looking for a way up onto Knockchree, and passed the Mourne flying clubs airstrip, which is actually a small flat field with a windsock at each end, right beside the road! I’m sure some unsuspecting drivers get the fright of their lifes, as planes take off and land! Parking the car on the verge of the road, we walked up a small track past a holiday cottage and over a boundary wall into the woods, GR/277/183. We followed the trail upwards through partly felled woodland. The view back towards the Mourne range was excellent, and I used it more than once as an excuse to catch my breath!
After a short time we reached the summit, which has outstanding views towards Carlingford lough and the Cooley mountain range. The summit itself is unmarked by any cairn or trig point, only a metal bar sticking out of the ground, which seemed to be the remains of a mast, gave any sort of indication of it’s top. We made our way over to the southern face which has a number of crags. The wind coming off the shore was very strong here, so we made for the more sheltered North Western face, where we rested with a hot brew and some chocolate biscuits.
Every once in a while I like to muck about with the map and compass, taking bearings towards feature we can see and features we can’t. Spud used the compass on his IPhone and I used my Silva type 4 compasses. We took it in turns taking a bearing with the other person given their reading first, with very similar results.
We must have rested for well over an hour lying on the heather taking it easy watching the world go by. With all the tea and biscuits gone, we headed back off the summit and into the woods. After a short while we were back at the car having had a few relaxing hours on another new peak and woodland.
Before heading home, we drove back around near Mourne park house were I had noticed another portal grave marked on the map that was located behind Kilkeel golf course. We parked the car before crossing some fields towards some woodland. The portal grave is named as ” the Giants grave” and is around 4000 years old. Unlike many ancient graves and buildings this one lies untouched cloaked in moss with dense forest surrounding it. Even in daylight this place was very atmospheric, now I’m not a believer in anything spooky or weird, but as much as I admired this ancient place it did give me the creeps!
We also found a sheep skull mounted on one of stones with strange painted stones underneath. Spud and I talked about camping at this spot, and about ghosts appearing in the photos, before making our way back to the car. Located within a mile was another portal grave found just behind church grounds. Again dating to around 4000 years old this grave had manicured lawns and a sign with all the information on it.
Making our way home past Kilkeel, I glanced through the photos I had taken, before pausing to stare at one photo I had taken of the first ancient grave, and something that caught my eye! I’ll let you decide what can be seen in the photograph. Well that was certainly another cracking day out, breaking new ground, relaxing on mountaintops and visiting spooky old graves.