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Summit of Slieve Donard


<b>Summit of Slieve Donard</b>Posted by ryanerImage © ryaner
Also known as:
  • Great Cairn

OS Ref (GB):   J358277 / Sheet: 29
Latitude:54° 10' 48.67" N
Longitude:   5° 55' 11.18" W

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<b>Summit of Slieve Donard</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Summit of Slieve Donard</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Summit of Slieve Donard</b>Posted by thelonious <b>Summit of Slieve Donard</b>Posted by thelonious <b>Summit of Slieve Donard</b>Posted by thelonious <b>Summit of Slieve Donard</b>Posted by thelonious


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This one nearly did me in. We started at the car-park in Newcastle like Thelonious below. I knew it would be strenuous before we set out and I’d been talking to a mate who’s local and he’d warned me about a spike in Covid in the area due to all the staycations, but here we were. It’s a popular spot and there were many on the trail.

The Glen river eases the first part of the ascent, with rock pools and mini-waterfalls along the way. The day was overcast and clammy and I was hoping that at some point the cloud would clear and the mountain would open up. We weren’t even halfway there when the moaning teens started. The sooner the schools re-open the better, my coaxing and cajoling skills having hit their limit.

We reached the Mourne wall after about 2 hours. Our perspectives had shortened the higher we’d climbed. Cloud had fallen along with spirits. Distances narrowed. Enthusiasm, never strong, flagged and lagged as the 200 metres or more of the hardest ascent remained. How long is there left? Why are we doing this? Questions I barely had the answers to myself as gravity almost pulled me backwards.

And then Commedagh appeared out of the clouds and over our shoulders like a giant spaceship, hovering enormously, and the perspective change was almost horrendous in its vertiginous magnificence. The kids were as stunned as we, but soon familiarity took over and they lapsed into are-we-nearly-there-ness again. I felt no little sense of glee in telling them that Donard was higher than Commedagh towering above and that there were many false summit-horizons ahead.

We reached the summit in brilliant summer sunshine – so this is what’s been happening all the while we’ve been under the cloud these last few weeks. The relief at having gained the top was palpable. We didn’t have it to ourselves and the views were blocked by the clouds but we’d done Donard. The ‘greater’ cairn swarmed with verminous flies and midges. Lots of people bring memorials up here for a friends or relatives who’ve passed, something I haven’t seen before. The cairn is a bit of a mess, well trundled over and probably not its original shape or size.

The northern, ‘lesser’ cairn is more interesting, but no less messed about with. The ground starts to descend towards the lesser cairn until, not too far beyond, drops precipitously to the north-east. There are many shelters built from the cairn material in the vicinity and there seems to be a lot of cairn slippage, especially to the east. The greater cairn is said to be a passage grave, destroyed by the sappers who built the trig station beside it. The lesser is called a multiple-cist cairn and was well messed up by the time Harris had visited it in 1744.

We lazed in the sun around the two cairns for a while and then headed back. The descent is a lot more dangerous, naturally, with lots of gravel kicked up onto the flagstones of the crude stairway/path, so extra caution was needed. We had left the car-park at 1pm and arrived back at the car about 7.30pm.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
16th August 2020ce
Edited 21st August 2020ce

03/08/2015 - We had a few days holiday spare so decided to make the trip to Ireland to visit Slieve Donard. A big hill with a couple of cairns on top sounded good to me. I'd had my eye on this trip since looking across at the Mournes from the Isle of Man a few years back. Good to finally make it.

Starting from Newcastle (great place to stay, ice cream and chippy heaven) it’s a pretty straight forward climb through a lovely wood and then alongside Glen River up to the Mourne Wall. From there the path steepens to the top of Slieve Donard. I’m a bit under the weather at the moment but even on a good day I think I would have found the climb hard going. The last 200 metres gain was tough and I was glad to reach the top. Great Cairn on the summit is quite a size and the view was amazing when the cloud lifted for a brief time. Better still to walk the short distance north to Lesser cairn, great place for a sit and quieter than the top
thelonious Posted by thelonious
7th August 2015ce
Edited 7th August 2015ce


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5 peaks website

ABB / Macmillan 5 Peaks Challenge 2002 - Slieve Donnard
Posted by ptdjoeb
1st July 2002ce