Walking Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains

Walking Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains

Slieve Donard, the highest peak in the Mourne Mountains made famous by the Percy French song and until recently my nemesis (obviously being a bit dramatic here).

I finally reached the top of Slieve Donard on an absolutely stunning day two weeks ago and it was worth every minute of the wait.

Slieve Donard stands 850m above sea level, literally from sea level, and according to my research it is a moderate to strenuous 5hour, 9km walk. Moderate to strenuous I can confirm, but I was rather slower than the 5 hours, coming in at 6.

Strangely enough I took much longer coming down than going up, and of course we sat for quite a bit at the top of the mountain taking in the clear spectacular views.

I can pretty much say I am mostly over my fear of heights now, and I am so glad I am, otherwise I would never have had the opportunity to experience this vista.

It’s funny, now I’m all about looking forward and I can’t wait for my next small adventure, which will most likely have to do with mountains.

But less than a year and a half ago the thought of walking into town was something I wouldn’t even entertain, never mind going up an 850m mountain, why – just because I didn’t!!! I’m not quite sure what happened, but in March 2016 I became obsessed with wanting to walk amongst trees, regularly. It cleared my mind and gave me the sense of calmness I was looking for.

And I just kept walking, I walked around Lisbon, Malaga, Granada, into the Serra Neveda.

I remember actually crying when I saw some of the hills in Lisbon, I was so unfit I couldn’t walk up them, little knowing that just over a year later I would be happily smiling going up Slieve Donard.

Nor did I know in January when I stood at the bottom of the Saddle, in the Valley below looking up, afraid of going any higher, (I was petrified of heights), that 6 months later I would be on top of Donard on the clearest day possible looking out across the Irish Sea and over the tops of the Mournes, all because of my want to start walking. I am so happy I did.

On my journey so far I have learned loads of lessons, from what to wear, to more importantly what not to wear, reframing my thoughts, (one of the harder lessons), embracing challenges and just putting one foot in front of the other. If you are thinking of changing things up and getting a bit fitter I am working on a post at the moment looking at all the things I have learned / embraced over the past year, plus, what I would like to have known when I started compared to what I know now.

Tina O Rourke



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