Declan McGrellis – My Rankin Round

The original plan was to go bag some Munros in Scotland.  When that plan fell through I was looking for alternatives closer to home.  It’s been a while since I camped out in the Mournes, so a couple of days hiking there sounded good.  But which part?  Not the same challenge as hiking up a Scottish Munro since I’d been over most of them before, but then the seed was sown … Kathleen’s recent completion of the Rankin Round … spend two days recceing the full route with a possible overnight camp.  The decision was made.  Planning was kept fairly low-key to say the least:

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Two Sat Navs, three lemmings and a crewman from Heaven – A day out in the Mournes 13/07/19

I love the mountains. I enjoy running, climbing and occasionally falling in the mountains. Do I know my way around the mountains? No, not really. I know some of them, the Skyline route mainly and I’d say another ten maybe, some by name, some not. After some discussion with mountain encyclopaedia Sean Nickell a while back we talked about giving the DRR a go.

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My Rankin Round:

New Ways to Climb Old Mountains.

I should probably start by saying this was not my first attempt at the Denis Rankin Round.  Several weeks before my round had been cut short at the first hurdle by what I can only describe as apocalyptic winds.  So much so that I questioned if the Mourne wall would still be standing in the morning.

Fast-forward to the 23rd of March and things were much different.  Still the same revving of engines and screeching of tyres at Donard car park but this time my car wasn’t shaking with the gusty wind.  I started at 2300 hours.  The plan was to start at midnight.   However, the wind was forecast to pick up around 2/3 am so I brought it forward an hour to get a head start on the weather, which couldn’t have been better at that time.  It was a beautiful crisp, clear night with a full moon but for a small shaving from the bottom right corner.  Going up Donard was very peaceful.  The only problem being that my young son had been playing the England Euro ’96 song all week and it was well and truly stuck in my head.

The first summits came easily.  These were mountains that I had been over many times.  Going up Binion was a bit more eventful.  I think it was just a lack of concentration but I wasn’t really climbing anymore and the path had disappeared.  There was nothing else for it but to make a 90degree turn and start scrambling up boulders.  Eventually, I reached the trail again and I was back on track.  Heading up to the South tor I saw the biggest, brightest shooting star.  I made a quick wish that the now heavy, icy wind would ease and returned to my earworm of ‘Football’s coming home…’

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Dean & Bertie’s On-Sight Round

Having a significant birthday, I had wanted to do something special, memorable and maybe a bit gruelling.  I had been throwing the idea of the Bob Graham around, but with too little time in the lakes and a recurring knee niggle, I started to search for other lesser known rounds that were shorter. With my closest adventure buddy, Bertie Goffe, like me having never visited Northern Ireland, the idea of turning up and running all the Mourne Mountains in under 24 hours sounded exciting and satisfied the pre-requisites. Standing under the entrance to Donard Park at 2.00am with 90km and 6,500m of ascent ahead of us I started to wonder if going out for a nice meal with friends would have been a better idea than attempting to onsight the Denis Rankin round!

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