I was approaching picking my next peak with military precision. I considered geographical location, accessibility, gradient, height and terrain. I factored in stamina and skill set. I studied the map and did precise calculations, then I closed my eyes, waved my finger about wildly and plonked it down.
‘My next peak is Slieve Commedagh,’ I informed Lionel.
‘It’s a big one.’
All mountains were big!
‘It’s the second highest peak in the Mournes.’
I put on my glasses and looked at the little numbers written beside Slieve Commedagh. I would have to climb, clamber and crawl my way up 765m to reach its peak. This was my biggest challenge to date and I wasn’t sure that a novice mountaineer/ hillwalker could even reach those heady heights but I was about to find out…
We set off from Donard car park in Newcastle and followed the Glen River. Water cascaded over rocks as we walked up the stony path.
It took us through the forest and up to the saddle between Slieve Donard, the highest peak in Northern Ireland and Slieve Commedagh, its slightly smaller neighbour in the Mourne mountains.
Other walkers gambolled up the steep incline like new born lambs, whereas I stumbled and staggered, stopping every five minutes to take in much needed oxygen and to moan that I would never make it!
Thankfully, I did, and once I’d dragged my weary bones over the great big wooden ladders that the leprechauns still hadn’t turned into escalators for me, I braced myself for the ascent ahead.
From the saddle we followed the Mourne wall, stopping to take in the stunning views and more oxygen on the way up.
Finally, after numerous huffy puffy stops, we made it to the top and were rewarded with a spectacular vista of the surrounding mountains.
A stile beside the turret took us back over the Mourne wall and I felt incredibly proud as I stood beside the cairn that marked the 765m peak.
After taking in the breathtaking views we walked back down the way we had come up hours earlier. I was weary, my legs felt weak and wobbly but I was so happy that the finger of fate had picked Slieve Commedagh because it was a wonderful walk and well worth the effort it took to make it to the top. Definitely my favourite peak to date!
Peaks: One big one!
Polaroids: three today
Prosecco: a big bottle to match the big peak I’d just climbed.