Slieve Lamagan had been calling out to us, always there but never on the agenda. Looming over Annalong Valley, silently watching. The mountains Irish name translates as creeping/crawling mountain, an odd name, which we were about to find out, was pretty darn accurate.
The weather look promising, a predicted dry evening followed by some showers at night. As long as we could get up to the top and get inside the bivi bags and tents before it started raining, we wouldn’t care if it rained after that.
Making our way along Annalong Valley to the foot of Lamagan we were warmly welcoming by a large crowd of local midge, where we fought our way through the boggy ground that leads up to the base of the mountain. Some sweating and wet boggy feet later we arrived at the base of the crawling mountain.
We didn’t know the old Irish translation of Lamagan at this point, but we did know a more modern nickname among local hillwalkers, if I remember it correctly it was something like: “F%*k Me Mountain”. I can speculate that this modern twist on the ‘crawling mountain’ also gets its name from one of the many sayings you may express when trying to tame this steep sloped monster. Either name is fairly accurate as we found out when stomping our way up its rocky slopes.
We zig zagged our way up the mountain, twisting and turning, up and over slabs, around boulders and through the midges. It was warm, and there wasn’t much of a breeze, meaning we had to drink regularly. The gradient was steep, but the views were worth it. Sadly we didn’t lose the midges until around 600m, which was quite a height for them to be at, or maybe they followed us?
When you take your time to catch your breath and have a look around you are met with a beautiful panorama of Annalong Valley which includes Slieve Donard on the left, and Slieve Binnian on the right.
We eventually reached the top and were met by a beautiful view of the enitre Mourne Mountains. Slieve Lamagan sits slap bang in the middle of the mountain range, and because of this, there aren’t many mountains you can’t see from here…if you have good visibility that is.
We spent the rest of the evening light sitting around a stove, drying socks and admiring the view. The rain stayed off until shortly after sunset when we retired to the warmth of our sleeping bags for the night.
Sleeping at 2,300ft it got windy and cold pretty quickly after the sun went down. The tent flapped throughout the night and the rain was more that audible. I stayed warm in my Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20 sleeping bag and got a fair amount of sleep giving the noise of the wind (the ear plugs helped!).
The morning came quick enough, and unfortunately with it came the rain. It seems that over the course of the night a cloud had moved in and positioned itself directly above us. The rain was heavy, the visibility low, and the temperature colder than the day before.
We packed up as quick as we could, and even with waterproofs on it wasn’t long until we were wet. Keeping with tradition and an obligated summit photo later ,(you wouldn’t know it was the top) we started our descent.
The rain was sideways and the wind was strong. We didn’t take long descending down the now streams that were forming along the path. I can’t say that we hung about too long to appreciate the view, as there was none to be seen.
Some hands and bums later and we had slid our way down to the track that led homeward. We were wet, cold and in need of some breakfast, so we wasted no time in making our way back to civilization for some much deserved petrol station hot food.