Our next outing in the snow occurs in the Mourne Mountains, our group travelled up to the Mourne Lodge, Cnocnafeola during November. The weather is looking good, no rain, clear sky and there is snow on the mountains. Our route today is from Meelmore to Slieve Donard via Silevenaglogh and Slieve Commedagh and returning by the Brandy Pad. With blue sky and white mountains, there are plenty of people out today on the Mournes, which are always a popular place for hikers. This classic route is enhanced greatly by the scenic views the snow brings. It’s a very slippery assent up to Silevenaglogh where compact ice makes progress interesting but we can pick a safe route through and get up to freezing summit. Once moving the body warms up and we settle into a pace and journey across the frozen landscape. For some in the group its their first time here and what a treat they get. We summit Slieve Donard just before lunch and enjoy the wonderful white panorama that is County Down.
We drop down for our packed lunch, which thankfully has not frozen! Then it’s the journey back along the well travelled Brandy Pad towards an icy Hare’s Gap where we pick our way safely down to easier paths. Then it’s on to the Trassey Track and back to the Meelmore Lodge where hot showers and meal await.
If in doubt…..
Getting caught out in a wintry shower or short spell of bad weather is not unusual in Ireland (see picture above) I have seen snow on Lugnaquilla in June. You should always be prepared for such events, carry extra clothing, hat and food with you and remember food can freeze in your backpack. Always carry a survival bag. In high winds needles of snow or hailstones can be extremely uncomfortable when travelling into the wind. Wear a Buff or Balaclava to protect your face from these elements. Put on your water proofs to protect you from the cold winds. Drop down off the mountain to a more manageable climate.
Travelling into the mountains in the snow requires the correct clothing, equipment and experience. Always hike and hill walk within your abilities. Every year there are reports of people getting stuck in the mountains and more frequently vehicles getting stuck travelling to or from the mountains. Let someone know your intended route and your expected return time (let them know when you return!)
Always remember: if in doubt do not go out!