“WANTED: Good woman. Able to clean, cook, sew, dig worms and clean fish. Must have boat and motor. Please send picture of boat and motor.”
Priorities are different in small coastal town of Northern Ireland.
Our bus driver was a fearless guy. The “larger than suitable for the road we were on” type of bus was skimping ahead way too fast on a narrow countryside road, barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Us few passengers onboard were hopping up and down with each bump and the roadside trees were screetching against the roof when we passed underneath.
I tried to look relaxed staring through the window at the absolutely stunning sunset against Northern Irish countryside, but I was horrified inside. When the bus finally stopped in the small coastal town of Newcastle (not the one upon Tyne), I stepped out with wobbling legs and got my first peek at Mourne Mountains. Two days of trail running ahead!
My accommodation was a small apartment rented from AirBnB. I had selected it purely based on location and logistics: Conveniently out of town for peaceful nightsleep, seaside view, trail up the mountain right next door, cafe downstairs for easy breakfasts, and a pub next door for dinner and “recovery”.
What more could you ask for a weekend of running!
Mourne Mountains aren´t really that high with tallest peak, Slieve Donard, climbing only 850m above sea level. However, it turned out you´re easily able accumulate quite a respectable amount of climbing on a day´s run following the trail from peak to peak along the Mourne Wall.
The climb from Newcastle up to Mourne Wall is a good warm up for a running day maintaining constant uphill for roughly 5km accumulating 650m of elevation on the way. From there (after catching your breath) you can follow the wall to either direction, Slieve Donard summit being on the left if you want to get that box ticked early on.
Trails vary from rocky climbs to wet bogs and anything inbetween. There were times when I was climbing basically straight up grabbing the rocks with my hands while other parts of the trail were pleasantly runnable dirt tracks.
With two good five hour days of running, I was able to cover most of the peaks on the eastern side of the mountains and only got lost once on my way back down the first day (should have followed the trail instead of trying to go for a shortcut). Lucky I brought a headtorch with me and made it back down before the kitchen closed in the pub next door.
Mourne Mountains are an excellent combination of easy access, varying trails, and great rugged mountain views which I didn´t expect to find at this elevation. Mix that with the charm of an Irish seaside town of Newcastle and close proximity to Dublin airport (~2,5h with a bus) and you´ve got a great place for a trail running weekend!