Easter week in the Mourne Mountains / by Alfonso Salgueiro


Blue hour, Tyrella beach

Blue hour, Tyrella beach

I visit Co. Down, Ireland, every year for family reasons, but I typically go either at Christmas or Summer time.  This year however I visited it at Easter. One of the things that I always do is to bring my hiking and photography gear and head to the Mourne Mountains as often as I can, which is not any time I want given the many family and friends visits that I (gladly) have to do.

For my walks I had in mind a few spots that I had briefly visited around the Mournes, and one of them was Tyrella beach. The evening I went to Tyrella the weather was rather dull and I left a little too late.

I arrived on Tyrella Beach with low tide and there were some people flying kites and some horses galloping in the distance. I decided to walk towards the Mourne Mountains to try to find some foreground interest for a shot I had in my mind. Thanks to the big puddles left by the low tide and some sunset colour I was able to produce some images that pleased me, including the panorama heading this post. I also found some harbour seals resting on a rocky outcrop. It was the first time in my life that I saw wild seals.

Harbour seals resting on a rocky outcrop at Tyrella beach

Harbour seals resting on a rocky outcrop at Tyrella beach

Another area I wanted to revisit was up the Mournes, near the well known Hare's gap, which is a mountain pass and one of the main access points into the heart of the Mournes.

The Great (Mourne) Wall

The Great (Mourne) Wall

I got up before sunrise one morning and headed up the Trassey track to reach the Hare's gap, which can be seen near the right bottom corner of the picture above if you follow the Mourne wall. I headed East towards the summits of Slivenaglogh, Corragh and Commedagh. It was in between these two last hills that I spotted some interesting rock formations and wanted to see them up close. The rocks hanging over Cascade river valley, as seen in the picture below, were a bit tricky to climb to but I finally managed to get near the edge and thanks to a remote control I was able to take the picture.

Rock formations over Cascade river valley

Rock formations over Cascade river valley

I also visited Murlough beach on several occasions since it is one of my favourite places around the Mournes. Murlough is a wide, flat sandy beach with a wide pebble ridge above high water mark. It stretches for about 6 km and is backed by an ancient sand dune system which has been declared a National Nature Reserve.

Luna at Murlough beach

Luna at Murlough beach

Whenever I went to Murlough I took my lovely Luna with me. She just adores this place and I just feel so happy to see her enjoy such a beautiful natural environment. I wasn't comfortable bringing her up the Mournes or to places I didn't know very well like Tyrella, but Murlogh is already a familiar place for me.

Sunset at Murlough beach

Sunset at Murlough beach

Being there at this time of the year I realised that weather conditions are yet more unpredictable that the typical Irish weather I normally experience around Christmas and Summer times. I actually thought that was to my advantage since the weather could go at any time from a beautiful sunny day to a very windy, stormy or cloudy one. It's a type of weather I have to admit I really like. It isn't boring and if you are a little patient you are rewarded with some incredibly beautiful light to take photographs.

Approaching storm at Murlough beach

Approaching storm at Murlough beach

I also visited some other spots a bit further away from the Mournes in order to get a full view of the mountains. The Windy Gap is situated to the West and offers great panoramic views.

View of the Mournes from the Windy Gap

View of the Mournes from the Windy Gap

My wife took me to the site of an ancient megalithic burial called Legannany dolmen, which sits not far from the Windy Gap and also has magnificent views over the Mournes. It is a beautiful area and it is the place where my mother in law grew up. I can imagine why the site became important for the early inhabitants of this part of Ireland. I tried a long exposure and a black and white processing to suit the mood of the place.

Legannany dolmen

Legannany dolmen

Last but not least, I did once again one of my favourite walks along the Annalong valley and up into the heart of the Mournes. The pictures below show some of the great spots to be found along this walk. I had such a brilliant time walking up and down those mountains, stopping at will whenever I wanted to capture some of that beauty the Mournes offer, feeling my heart beating hard, breathing pure fresh air and feeling strong. Pure joy!

Annalong valley early morning

Annalong valley early morning

Abandoned farm along Anallong valley

Abandoned farm along Anallong valley

One of the small rivers running along Annalong valley

One of the small rivers running along Annalong valley

Ben Crom reservoir

Ben Crom reservoir