Having missed out on the chance to join the rest of Hikersblog on the Burren way I pondered what misadventure I could get myself into. On Rusty’s recent Stag camp in Annalong woods, I scouted out a possible camping spot. On the side of the mighty Slieve Binnian, there are a number of ramparts, cliffs, that lie just past the enchanting Binnian lough. I often find myself gazing at places like these and wondering would it make a good place to pitch a tent. Having picked Douglas Crag as a good place to camp we made our plans.
The weather recently has been amazing, having reached the grand age of 44 I can’t remember having such a long spell of good weather after all this is Ireland and we love to complain about the weather!
A colleague from work joined me on this camp, Pearse is about as easy going fella you’re going to meet, always practical joking and never taking anything seriously, just the right recipe for enjoying life. We parked our car and made our way along the stone walk that leads to the old Belfast Water Commission gates, you’ll see gates marked all around the Mournes with B.W.C on them, the old waterboard. It was around 11am and already sweltering with a blazing sun overhead. We left the comfort of the main track and started ascending Binnian. Having reached the first wall that runs towards Binnian lough we began to contour across the heather, it crumbled and crunched under our feet, a tinderbox if ever there was one.
Between the rocky outcrops lay a small mountain steam reduced to a mere trickle, an opportunity for us to fill our water containers. The large boulders on Douglas crag now came into sight and gave us a good fixture on where to walk. I’d say our pace was nothing short of lazy, we didn’t care, we had the whole day just to relax and enjoy the scenery and boy was it good. Before us, the whole of Annalong valley could be seen cloaked in the sunshine. Reaching our camp we pitched the tents and shaded under huge boulders that stood all around us like sleeping soldiers. We were lucky as a cooling breeze kept any midges at bay, nothing worse than having to shelter in a tent away from these winged attackers! Having grabbed some lunch and fluids we ventured towards Binnian lough which was only a five-minute walk away. Reaching the lough two mallard ducks flew off, maybe the presence of men usually means trouble. Binnian lough appeared like a huge mirror without a ripple in sight. We filled our water containers again and were surprised at just how clear the water was, not even the slightest sediment was visible.
As much as I enjoy walked and adventure I just love relaxing at camp, boots and socks off, feet up and listening to Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. We carried a few beers with us and somehow the shadows from the boulders seem to chill The beers, one of those, it was meant to be moments! We sat overlooking the Mountains discussing all the matters of the world while the sun began to fall in the sky. We were quite surprised that we could only see one other camp in the mountains.
We retired to our tents a little after midnight having drunk our fill of adventure. I woke at 5am and grabbed my camera as I hoped to capture the Rising sun over the Irish Sea. Last night we watched the Sunset behind us and now we marvelled to the amber glow of the rising sun.
Breakfast consisted of two coffees and a trail bar. We broke camp around 8am and started to make our way back to our civilized lives. I often find myself wondering what I get out of walking and camping, is it some remnant of my childhood, an escape if you like. I’d like to think I’m drawn to the adventure, that I feel closer to the land and myself by spending time with it.