A small (but beautifully formed) group of enthusiastic walkers met at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre on a cold a frosty morning. After enjoying some excellent refreshments at the cafe and despite intermittent showers, we walked from the Centre along miscellaneous paths back to the Centre.
To some it might have seemed like a rather pointless exercise but to those who took part it was a bracing and enjoyable start to the day and we arrived back in good time to allow us to make ourselves presentable to the wider group of walkers who appeared to have spent the morning preening themselves in preparation for our Christmas Dinner at the Ashburn Hotel. Although some aspects of the meal (especially the vegetable stir fry) fell below the standards we have come to expect, the Christmas pudding made up for these deficiencies and a good time was had by all. Many thanks to those who provided the seasonal quiz and entertained us after the meal.
SMS problems - some of you have been receiving text messages at odd times, e.g. 6 days late or not at all, because of a "problem" with John's Windows phone. He kept this phone in his suite of phones because it can send 114 texts out at one time making his life a little easier. What he hadn't realised is that switching the phone off within a few minutes of sending the texts halts the transmission of remaining texts so only a limited number of texts will get through. The others will only be sent when the phone is switched back on. Oops. Will try harder in 2018.
High winds failed to materialise and we had perfect weather for a walk round Castlewellan Forest Park and (for most of us) up to the summit of Slievenaslat. Only four turned up at the Broad Water but they also enjoyed a great walk.
Christmas dinner next week!
Despite a bleak forecast, 18 Cedars Walkers defied the weather and headed off for South Armagh. Now read on ...
Begloved and bobble-hatted, 18 intrepid Over Active Persons ventured forth on a cold and frosty morning to conquer the aptly named ‘mountain of the steep slope ‘, Slieve Gullion. The advance party led by, the surprisingly shortless but balaclaved, Mike (right) forged ahead whilst the ‘sherpas’ led by that well known reader of maps, John, followed at a more dignified pace. However, after much uphill, we were all relieved when Paddy ‘rang the one o’clock bell’ to summon us to lunch huddled behind the cairn at the summit. We would probably have been grateful if the extinct volcano had reignited as it was VERY cold. No one was tempted to swim in the lake which is just as well as mythology has it that anyone who does so emerges as an old person with grey hair. Now that would have been a shock!!
After lunch the ‘mountain goats’ braved the icy winds across the summit whilst the ‘sheep’ meekly followed their ‘shepherd ‘ on a more challenging, though supposedly shorter, downhill. Reunited in the excellent Synge & Byrne coffee shop at base camp, we tucked into hot chocolates and tray bakes secure in the knowledge that the 9 mile hike had burnt up hundreds of calories!
Thank you John and Mike for your leadership and the group for friendship and craic.
Meanwhile at Clare Glen another group of happy walkers also enjoyed a great walk led by Gordon, Reuben and Ruth.
We decided that it might be too wet underfoot in the mountains so brought next week's walk (30 November 2017) forward.
Mike led a walk on Newtownabbey Way. We caught the 9:15 train at Portadown except that it left 12 minutes later than timetable and as (had it been on time) we only had 11 minutes spare at Great Victoria Street station to catch the 10:10am Derry/Londonderry train to Mossley West we were on tenterhooks as the train approached Belfast. All seemed well until we pulled into the station only to see the Derry/Londonderry train pull out. So we reverted to plan "B", or was it "C", anyway we ran round to catch the 10:15am train to Whitehead which fortunately was leaving on time - only three minutes after we arrived) and got to Jordanstown half an hour later to start are walk in the opposite direction to that originally intended.
It was a fortuitous choice because not only did we get a bit of a climb but when we arrived at the beatifully restored Mossley Mill, home to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council's Civic HQ, we were able to use the facilities at the adjacent Theatre at The Mill for "comfort" and refreshments.
We started with 32 walkers and approximately half of our party chose to catch the next train back to Belfast after lunch but the rest of us braved the weather and on reaching Corr's Corner (about a mile from the theatre), we set off down the picturesque A8 Ballynure Road, where the heady aroma of diesel fumes was mixed with a refreshing spray from HGVs. 1,317 metres later we turned down the B59, Old Carrick Road, past Asher's Bakery and on to Mossley West Station. John and Brian chose to take the 1A Metro Service and enjoyed an oddysey (a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience) through parts of Belast which we hadn't visited in 50 years, if ever. A great day was had by all even though the wall to wall sunshine which had been promised for the afternoon failed to materialise.
The leaders welcome suggestions for new walks.
Thanks to Yvonne H. for this great pic and others to be seen by clicking link below
We had lots of options on 16 November, all starting from Leitrim Lodge.
Mike led a more challenging 7 mile mountain walk starting at 10:30am while the rest of us started at 10:35am, some for a loop taking in Pierces Castle, Tornamrock and (optionally) Rocky Mountain while others enjoyed a 10 mile walk along the Ulster Way. All returned safe and happy. It was agreed that giving more detailed information about walks on the web site was a success.
If you are taking photographs for the web site please ensure that they are taken in "landscape" mode i.e. wider than they are high. This minimises the risk of cropping out important bits!
Portadown Rugby Football Club: each week "PRFC people", i.e. those that want to car share from Portadown, will depart at 09.30am unless walk is a short/long distance away - in which case I will endeavour to advise of alternative times. The club is at 287 Bridge Street, Portadown, BT63 5AR nearly opposite Bachelor's Walk on the "Lurgan Road" - walkers should use the lower car park only.
Level walk: As is our custom in early November we walked the delightful 8 mile route from Helens Bay to Whitespots Country Park and the Somme Centre. This distance was taken from the WalkNI web site but careful measurement of the walk confirms that the actual distance is less than 7 miles UNLESS you add in the bonus loop pioneered by John which includes a sortie into Cairn Wood where the paths have been paved with enough pallets to build a mega bonfire!
Nearly everyone travelled by train and bus so a big thumbs up for your contribution towards saving the planet. As always, some of our walkers had the problem of finding a parking space in time to catch the train but the walk itself was excellent despite the muddy conditions underfoot.
For some pics of the walk from Helen's Bay to Whitespots Country Parkclick here.
Hill walk: Mike led a walk including Pigeon Rock (534m), Slievemoughanmore (559m) and Wee Slievemoughan (428m) including a semi-aquatic adventure round Spelga Reservoir. For pics of the walk click here.
We had walks to suit all tastes on 02 November. Pictured above are most of the group led by Mike on to Slievenabrock and, for some, on to the summit of Commedagh.
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We will leave Jethro Centre on the morning of walks at 10:00am unless otherwise agreed. Planned walks may change right up to the last minute. If travelling directly to the start point sign up for John's text messaging service to stay up to date.
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