Paul Mahon and Peter O’Farrell – Round Report

Runners:                 Paul Mahon and Peter O’Farrell

Support:                  Moire O’Sullivan

Start:                       03:00:00 Monday 15th July 2019

Finish:                     00:14:40 Tuesday 16th July 2019

Round Time:            21:14:40

Conditions:              Very Good – clear skies, wet rivers, dryish ground, foliage (mostly) reasonable,12-> 25 deg C w mix of overcast and strong sunshine

With the bald facts out of the way time for the report.

Paul and myself have been friends for many many years but hadn’t actually had a long day in the hills or a good chat in ages as I have been doing shorter time based activities whilst he has continued with the longer stuff. Paul gave me great support in a recent cycling challenge and my wife Orla was keen for me to repay the favour. With the official approval out of the way I was good to go!

Paul had wanted to do the Rankin round for a good while, having done the Mourne Mountain Marathon many times along with several 7 7’s and he had listened with envy to Moire’s reports of her day in the hills doing her Rankin round.

The Monday was chosen as it was to be the last day of a recent spell of good weather with the theory being the ground would be that bit drier and the rivers would still be wet for water refills. All that worked perfectly and let both of us tend to family needs for the bulk of the weekend. Greg Byrne sent me on information from his day with Billy Reed but I had much gardening to do so didn’t study it enough. More on that later!

Paul picked me up, we drove to Moire’s house where Aran showed me his new birthday Lego and Moire fed us our second dinner of the day and gave me her invaluable marked up map of her successful round attempt, compete with route choices and bearings. Very nice.

On to various bag drops including access into the Silent Valley Dam by the kind gents on the barrier and then we finally got to the boy racers party in the Donard carpark behind the pub about 11am. I felt we could do better so we moved the van to a quieter spot behind a church and tried to sleep. 2:30am rolled around, we rolled out of the sleeping bags, ate the pre-watered muesli, brushed our teeth and drove back to the now much quieter Donard carpark.

03:00:00 on the button we started from the gate after the obligatory start photos …………. which I later lost along with my phone.

The first choice was easy as was our pace as we stayed on the Glen river tourist path in the dark, kept our feet dry and summited Slieve Donard in about 75 minutes. A steep descent, some wall following and daylight arrived along with some more peaks getting ticked off. The actual round itself went very well from my point of view. I felt really awfully tired until about 7am and then I perked up for the day and settled into the reality of up and down whilst Paul did all the hard work of being the main navigator. With Moire’s map I just kept a watchful eye on proceedings in case we missed out a peak by mistake and had the full list laminated in my pocket too.

Down to Silent Valley for our first re-supply and quickly off on leg 2, all going swimmingly really and the chats were continuing mightily. Our rule from the very start was that we should never be going so hard that we couldn’t hold a full conversation. With two opinionated lads there was plenty of talk about once I got my initial quiet section out of the way.

Onto the end of stage two at Deer’s Meadow and a huge welcome surprise in the form of Moire. She hadn’t been sure she could be at the section ends but here she was. This was brilliant I was really appreciative of her managing to give up her time to help us out, and providing ice creams and a third voice.

More 2litre bladder refills and a spot of faffing with Paul’s tracker (not switched on properly apparently at the start) and we were off on leg 3. We were both happy out with our adventures along this leg and tipped away nicely. I had been slightly slower then Paul on leg 1 with a combination of tiredness and caution but we were both trucking steadily now. We did an unnecessary slog up from the river instead of taking the forest trails approaching Slievemeen but sure we hadn’t recced and you take the odd sub-optimal route choice when you are that over-confident. We were slightly over-confident as we later realised J

Moire was there again at Slievemartin with our drop bag and an array of good food choices. Nothing like her experience to know what foods we might like.

From here we slogged up into the high grassy reedy mess that is also known as Crenville which actually went well as some other lads had been out on the round a few days before and bush bashed a little path some of the way. The initial exit from Crenville was our only really poor section as we misread the initial direction off the peak and got the wrong forest. We even crashed through some dead forest but Paul did manage to relocate us and find the fireroad in Rostevor leading to Slievemeel. Coming off Slievemeel heading for the forest corner near Kilbroney Red Bog I lost my phone. A day trip with the family to the Yellow Water picnic area might be in my future but as I had it on aeroplane mode to conserve battery there was no thoughts of ringing it to find at that stage J

We were relatively grand from there to Spelga, probably missed a couple of little trails and heather bashed a little much but nothing too excessive and the heat was noticeable. Once again Moire was there and this time I was the faffer with plenty of blisters needing attention and some new socks completing the look whilst Paul chatted to Steven Bickerstaff (A recent Ranking round member who happened to see our tracker route and showed up in his campervan) and Moire about options for the next few peaks. Moire had brought us chips with 2 sausages and I wolfed them down. Very tasty. Very. Paul struggled a little with his which wouldn’t be like him. Steven took some water for us and parked his camper van on the road where he told us was a good place to start up Ott Mountain.

Paul’s navigation was pretty spot on all day. I was carrying Moire’s map and estimating the lines I would have taken and on any of them that were Wicklow like (flattish bog) I would have given us an extra couple of hundred metres of distance whereas Paul usually zoned in on the little pile of cairn rocks.

Out we went on the last section which had some steep climbing and descending. We had hoped and presumed to come off Commedagh in the last of the daylight and take a more direct route home going north initially and then on a 70 deg bearing to access the stile and Glen River path. This wasn’t too be as we got a bit slower with the combined efforts of the day and some stomach issues for Paul leading to a significant drop off in pace. It didn’t really matter though as we weren’t going for a record, hadn’t done any recces and to totally honest I was kind of looking forward to the adventure of needing the torches to finish. This section is lovely, really steep mountainy mountains and we were safely onto the handrail of the Mourne wall by the time it was properly dark. Paul recovered from his stomach and took us on a cool straight line plunge from the peak of Commedagh to the top of Glen River and from there we hoofed it down steadily enough to the Donard Car park arch to be greeted by Moire with beers and Paul’s long lost friend Susanna who had left her family in Analong to meet and greet us with a 20 bag of Tayto 😊

Moire took the “finish” photo which was great as my phone camera, along with the start photo, is still somewhere on my tracked line between Slievemeen and the forest corner near Kilbroney Red Bog

All in all a great day out. No gels, loads of real food, about 14 litres of water with electrolyte tablets, another 5 litres of river water, 2 dioralytes (on the principle of the thing), ice creams and chips+sausages

We got an exceptionally good day. Loads of visibility, two well matched runners, great support, plenty of water in rivers and some overcast skies keeping the sun off.

It was only really too hot for about 4 hours in afternoon from Finlieve on, co-incidentally the time period where we had the nav mistake on Crenville, I lost my phone, Paul broke a walking pole, my blisters doubled their surface area and Paul’s stomach started to go awry J

We would like to thank Moire O’Sullivan for all her efforts helping us, the Rankin Round committee for coming up with the idea and our good ladies back at home for letting us out for the day.