Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Mourne Wall Challenge: Bested by a Wall

I was excited at undertaking and defeating the Mourne Wall Challenge; unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. It was my second day in Northern Ireland and the sun had barely dawned when I beaved my way out of tent. Heavy rain, high winds, limited visibility set me up for a real test of character. I loaded myself up with all my wet weather gear and set off. My camera suffered water damage after 5 minutes and I met three other intrepid adventures all who had turned back on the national park and strongly advised I do the same (the phrase idiot came up a lot). 
My first view of the wall. Admittedly, the weather also gave me lots of warnings not to partake this particular adventure which I dutifully ignored!
I alternated sides of the wall to best protect myself from wind as well as walking on the wall of the ground became to marshy. I soon learnt that slippery/greasy grass had a hidden bonus, and it was much easier to slide down the slopes on my bum then actually run the downhills. Admittedly, I probably slid through a load of sheep poo, but the rain washed that right off. My brief meal breaks were spent hunkering down in the wall corners for the best protection from the elements. All in all, the challenge, despite the exteme conditions, seemed achievable. I got to the top if Slieve Donard, traipsed through Silent Valley, and clambered through forest. 
Silent Valley was surprisingly quiet.
Then I hit the river. I do not know what it is called, and I cannot remember exactly where it was, but it seemed as though all the rain was collecting in one place and been forced down the one waterway. Ohhh, I tried crossing. I tried crossing four times; yet four times I was nearly washed away like president-masked bank robber on a surfboard. It was here that I had to concede defeat, and with a heavy, waterlogged heart I trudged to the nearest service station and called for a taxi. He also thought I was an idiot.

The reservoir at Silent Valley. From my expereince this area was in no need of conserving water.
I do not have many photos. The rain destroyed my camera as shown by the fuzzy photo from the start of the trek. It randomly started working again in Silent Valley (which was remarkably silent and free of bad weather!) but ceased functioning once I had returned to camp. And, to add a little bit of stinging salt to my open wound, I lost my pocket watch while trying to cross the river. Ultimartely is was this that sent me home. Without a watch to keep track of the time, I did not feel confident completeing the run/trek.There was a vast chunk of trek which was a bit too far from civilisation that I did not want to get stuck in come sun down, and my watch was the only methof I had of keeping time and ensuring I was not out after dark.
The night day before my challenge looking up at the mountains; eerily calm and dry. Oh, how that was to change.