We returned to the more "standard" 5am get-up on Wednesday 27th October 2010, as we anticipated a full day expedtion in the Mourne Mountains over in County Down. We drove up through Newry and then picturesquely through the Mournes from Spegla Pass, before homing in on the Silent Valley Reservoir park. I hadn't realised that this was all gated with restricted admission times. We arrived there at 7am, and it wasn't due to open until 10am! However, a member of staff said we could drive up to the car park and commence our walk immediately, so that potential problem was solved before it even started.
The original plan was to activate the pair of Slievelamagan GI/MM-006 and its near neighbour Slieve Binnian GI/MM-003. These could be attacked from the col between them, above the south end of the Ben Crom reservoir. However, that would prove to be a case of biting off more than we could chew, and we ultimately settled for a one summit day. We commenced walking from the car park at the south of Silent Valley Reservoir in darkness, but torches were hardly necessary. By the time day was breaking properly, we had walked the four miles along the reservoir access road and were in the information shelter underneath the large dam at the end of Ben Crom Reservoir.
A series of flights of concrete stairs allowed us to climb to the height of the water, and then we climbed further as a steepy muddy path wound its way up the hillside to the saddle. Now it was the relentless ascent up the southern flanks of Slievelamagan itself, and this was hard work! Eventually I could look along the summit ridge after it rounded off, and see the large summit cairn, and Jimmy there pottering about. We had saved the best weather day for this one, and the views in all directions were stunning. I told Jimmy that I didn't think we would get Slieve Binnian GI/MM-003 done as well today, but we agreed that it would be better left for a different approach from the other direction, following along the Mourne Wall anyway.
Jimmy set up for 2m FM with the SOTA Beam as usual, and I went for 40m CW with the dipole. Our vantage point afforded views of other Mournes such as Slieve Commedagh GI/MM-002 and Slieve Donard GI/MM-001, as well as the Irish Sea sparkling on the far horizon. As was becoming routine, Jimmy achieved exactly four contacts on VHF, while I managed 31 on HF. There was plenty of inter-G work available on 40m, which was pleasing. Soup was the delicious Baxters Haggis Broth.
I struggled to get into my stride on the initial steep descent, and Jimmy was waiting for me at the col for what must have seemed like an eternity. Here it was confirmed that Slieve Binnian GI/MM-003, which could be accessed from this saddle, would be a step too far and now out of the question. A similar slow story ensued from the subsequent steep muddy drop down to Ben Crom Reservoir. But then, at last, I was able to get a rhythm going for the long four mile march back to the car park. We suffered heavy rain for the last section of this. The following day would require a very necessary lie-in and a late and leisurely start, before an afternoon attempt of Tievecrom GI/CA-005. Many thanks to all the following stations who called us on this activation: