The mountains of this granite kingdom never fail to amaze and astound, their rugged beauty matched by the ever-changing weather of the four seasons that plays about their summits. Like an addict, one is compelled to return again and again to indulge in their majesty and to savour their mystery. Today is one such day. From the Saddle between Donard and Commedagh I watch, mesmerised, as frigid Slieve Bearnagh, its spiky tors silhouetted against an apricot sky, is slowly engulfed by cloud boiling up in the valley below, partially obscuring the watery sun now hanging like a paper lantern in the darkening sky. Bright pools of light flooding the surface of the
Struggling against a vicious east wind we make our way up to the tower on Commedagh, seemingly etched in monochrome, a welcome sanctuary from the elements. We fire up our stove inside for a hot drink and watch the conditions worsen outside. With the mercury plummeting and a wind chill making it feel about -10, we reach the cairn on Commedagh in near white out conditions then begin our descent through ankle deep snow to Slieve Corragh. Through the spindrift and snowflakes whirling dervish-like I think I spot a person, then more loom into view. These are not people, but the granite pillars below Commedagh which emerge through the gloom like giant totem poles carved by the hand of time into fantastical shapes – or stone sentinels frozen for eternity to guard the realm of a Mountain King. Clambering over the ice encrusted Mourne Wall we reach the summit of Corragh then return to the Saddle via the Castles, passing a huddle of grim faced walkers taking shelter close to the stile over the Wall.
The path down to