Tuesday, 17 February 2009
The Doan (bottom left) is an ugly little runt of a mountain set in the heart of the Mournes, diminutive among the towering slopes that surround it. Many of the best known and most frequently climbed peaks are rounded with man-made cairns on their summits making them appear almost breast-like. Little wonder the mishapen Doan (the name is a bastardisation of the Irish word for 'dun' meaning fort) attracts little attention from many of the usual walkers in the Mournes whose sole purpose seems to be conquer and 'to do' ('I did Donard today'). The Doan is just not sexy enough, and the boggy, undulating ground that you have to trek to get to get to it, after a fairly strenuous climb into the heart of the mountains, makes it even less appealing.
Yet it is this isolation that makes the Doan so appealing for me. While some slopes in the Mournes, Donard in particular, can become congested on a good day, I have only ever met one person treking to the Doan and that was while I was coming away from it.
It took me two hours to climb there today and I spent an hour just sitting there and relishing the silence and the full panorama of the Mournes all around me. Slieve Donard and Comedagh, to their left the craggy summit of Bernagh and then the twins of Meelmore and Meelbeg (top left) - although contrary to what the Irish names suggest Meelbeg (little mountain) is actually bigger - by a few metres - than Meelmore (big mountain).
Below me was Lough Shannagh, Carn Mountain and Slieve Muck, further south I could see the made-made Silent Valley Reservoir and beyond it the mountains fell away to a flat pensinsula that opened on to Carlingford Lough and on the opposite shore the Cooley Mountains in Co Louth. Then turning again were some of the finest and most spectacular peaks in the Mournes - Slieve Binnian and Slieve Lamagan and between them, in the distance, lies the Irish Sea.
There were no sounds except for a few circling ravens, a couple of tricking rivulettes and the wind. Don't go there. You wouldn't like it. Do Donard instead, its far more exiciting.