Each new year we venture into the Mourne Mountains; normally on new year’s day and involving a full hike to the top of Slieve Donard, this year was slightly different. We decided to wait for the weather to improve and so this year’s adventure ended up a casual hike up to Hare’s Gap on the 2nd January. It was a cold, crisp day with the sun low in the sky often completely blocked by the Mourne mountain skyline.
On this journey to Hare’s Gap we started our walk at Meelmore Lodge with a gentle incline to the first of the stone walls, the first incline is just enough to get the whole family warned up. Once you are over the first wall at Melmore lodge the going gets a little less predictable and a lot more wet (especially in Winter). For this trip I packed two cameras, my trusty Fujifilm X100T that now goes everywhere and the X-T1 with 14mm lens and my Lee Seven5 filters.
Thankfully, crossing the Trassey river brings drier ground as well as a well-established pathway through the mountains on to Hare’s Gap. This stage of the walk is a reasonably easy stroll and it offers some really stunning views along the way. It is interesting to see the impact the changing weather makes to the rugged skyline. See our visit last September : The Mournes, Hare’s Gap.
The last stage of the walk involves a steep climb through the rocks to Hare’s Gap. It is a great relief to see the Mourne wall after the last set of steep rocks and this really is the perfect place to stop for a rest.
Winter is a great time to venture up one of the Mourne mountains but the days are shorter so you have to head out early to get the most of the day and to ensure you are not climbing down on darkness. In the mid-afternoon it is interesting to see areas saturated in sunshine yet offering a massive contrast that a few metres away can be in total darkness.
It was a golden day and the X100T and X-T1 were really able to catch the warm winter light. I was shooting into the sun a fair bit and I love the fact that both cameras can handle harsh highlights but at the same time respect the detail of the shadows.
The climb down doesn’t feel half as long as the journey up but the sense of satisfaction is well worth the effort and early start. There is genuinely no better place to clear your mind that the peaks of the Mourne mountains.