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Yet again a very enjoyable trail holiday or "people-powered journey" in modern parlance, along the Rob Roy Way from Drymen to Pitlochry over 77 miles of picturesque Scottish scenery. Thanks to Lorraine, Helen, Trevor, Jim and Peter for their company and craic and special thanks to Macs Adventure for arranging such great accommodation. Plenty of memories and lots of photos(I discarded about half of them from the set on the website) so have a look and enjoy the holiday through our cameras(Lorraine provided the last page of photos and Jim took photos for me on the day I rested).


On a mizzly, dank morning fourteen club members plus one very large dog gathered at the Cecil Newman Carpark near Meelmore Lodge for a walk in the Mournes led by Alison Wise. The walk began with a contour across the lower slopes of Luke’s Mountain followed by a stiff climb to the summit and beyond as far as the Mourne Wall. After a brief rest and coffee break near the summit of Slievenaglogh we headed over Corragh and on to the top of Commedagh. Unfortunately the view from here was limited because of a fine damp mist so we continued on down the mountain as far as the Saddle for lunch. The return trip via the Brandy Pad saw the sun breaking through the clouds and by the time we reached the Hare’s Gap the weather was just about perfect. Many thanks to Alison for leading this fine, if somewhat challenging, walk.(Thanks to Ivan and Jim for the photos and Ivan for the text)


Fine walk in Kilbroney Forest Park today. It was a bit damp and misty to begin with but improved after lunch. A steep climb took us to the site of the Cloughmore Stone from where it is just a short ascent to the summit of Slieve Martin (see photo). After lunch taken in the lee of a radio shack we descended to the forest and made our way back to the Carpark. As usual we invaded the Forest cafe for refreshments before the journey home. Thanks to Geoffrey for leading this ever popular walk.(Thanks to Ivan for the photos and text)


A great time was had by all on the Club's first holiday of 2014, this time by Ulsterbus to Bantry, Co. Cork. Our base was the luxurious Maritime Hotel with its excellent rooms, great food and entertainment each evening. We travelled down on Monday 7th and began our walks the following day. This proved to be a long and scenic walk along part of the Sheep's Head Path. On the Wednesday we were treated to a conducted tour of Whiddy Island by local entrepreneur Tim O'Leary. The tour included an interesting visit to a former WW1 American Anti-U boat Seaplane base. Lunch in the only pub on the island, O'Leary's. Our third and final walk on the Thursday was from the touristy village of Glengarrif taking in part of the Beara Trail, through nearby woodlands and finishing at Lady Bantry's Lookout, which, as it's name implies had stunning views all over Bantry Bay.(Thanks to Ivan for the photos and text)


Sinead led this walk on a crisp March Saturday and to quote the flyer:-

Join us on an excellent walk from Carricklittle carpark past Annalong Wood and the tranquil Blue Lough on the right as far as the crossroads. There we turn right and ascend Lamaghan followed by Cove and Beg until we reach the Brandy Pad. We then pick up a trail along the Annalong Valley which brings us back to the starting point.

Thanks to Aidan for providing the photos.


The 2014 club AGM was held in the Stormont Pavilion and included the presentation of a cheque for £400 raised at the November charity evening. The donation was gratefully accepted by Malachi O'Doherty representing the Pensioner's Trust. The business was concluded briskly, followed by a short talk by Malachi O'Doherty on the importance of fitness in later years. Following a buffet meal accompanied by a slide show of the 2013 walks and holidays, Victor provided the musical entertainment and Ken and Ivan ran a ballot to raise money for the Children's Hospice.


For the first walk of the New Year the Club chose a fairly challenging one which included a route up Donard which was new to most of us. With a good turnout of 14 members and a glorious sunny but cold winter's day we headed up through the trees from Donard Park as far as the Icehouse. There we crossed the Glen River and ascended Thomas' Mountain via the Black Stairs, a fairly steep scramble. Thence to the summit of Donard which was nearly as crowded as Ravenhill on a Friday evening. Down Donard going south along the wall, across the Bog of Donard for a quick visit to Chimney Rock Mountain, and back to Donard Park via the Brandy Pad and the still icy steps down from the Saddle. An energetic but satisfying day out in the mountains. Many thanks to Sinead, our Leader, and Steevie for his expert advice at the tricky bits.(thanks to Ruth, Colin and Ivan for the photos and to Ivan for the text)


There are only a few photos of the 14 December walk at Tollymore and the Craigantlet to Holywood walk on the 29th. Due to the poor weather the Tollymore walk, originally to be the Long Haul Trail was shortened to a walk along the river paths, thanks to Helen Magill for the photos. Thanks to Ivan for the Craigantlet/Holywood photo.


This charity evening, organised by Alison and Ivan, was in aid of the charity Age Sector Platform. For a change of scene we decided to hold the event in Shorts Social Club and Shorts kindly provided the room free of charge and organised good catering at a very competitive price.

The evening kicked off with a quiz hosted by our own Mags and Max, an excellent fork buffet supper, a ballot and then musical entertainment from Ruth Jennings, accompanied by Andrew Thompson. The evening was very successful and raised over £400 for the charity. Thanks to members and guests for their contributions, to Shorts for hosting the event and to committee members for providing ballot prizes.


Today's walk was only about 8 miles, a section of the 26 mile Newcastle Way. We parked at Castlewellan and then used taxis to travel to Tollymore Forest exit at Bryansford. We then walked along minor roads and trails to Castlewellan and then through Castlewellan Forest Park to finish at the square in Castlewellan. The walk was led by Jim and me(John) who regularly walk this route in our role as volunteer Rangers. The walk was quite short for a Sunday walk but well suited to the shorter daylight and surprisingly well attended. The afternoon concluded with some refreshment at the local bar and mounting excitement as we watched the second half of the Ireland vs New Zealand rugby match and the prospect of a first Irish win against the All Blacks but!


On a bright but chilly Autumn day 10 ramblers set off from Rourke's Park to undertake the Seefins walk which is now one of the best liked walks in the Club's programme. The route took us over Round and Long Seefins and along the Mourne Wall until we reached the base of Rocky. Having climbed Rocky we then crossed the Bog of Donard to a ridge which led up to the summit of Chimney Rock Mountain where we sheltered from a very stiff breeze whilst we had lunch. The route home took us over Blaeberry Mountain and Spences Mountain before crossing the Spences River back into Rourke's Park. Thanks to Den Hamill for leading this walk.(Thanks to Ivan for the text and photos)


A dozen or so ramblers enjoyed our annual week-end visit to the North Coast based in the Fullerton Arms,  Ballintoy. The walk on Saturday from the Causeway back to Ballintoy on the coastal path was in grave danger of being cancelled because of exceptionally heavy rain. But, as if by magic, the rain stopped just in time allowing us to take advantage of this world class walk once again. It was muddy and damp underfoot but it did not rain for at least three hours and, contrary to the weather forecast, there was virtually no breeze. So conditions were fine, if not perfect, for the walk. The views were spectacular and Whitepark Bay was its outstandingly dramatic self. Afternoon refreshments, which included large portions of carrot cake, were enthusiastically demolished at Ballintoy Harbour Cafe. On Sunday a smaller group met at the Marine Hotel, Ballycastle, to walk in the nearby forest (in the rain). Many thanks to leaders Carol, Lorraine and Den.(Thanks to Helen Magill for the photos and Ivan for the text)


A group from the club travelled to Morocco from 10 to 17 October 13 for a walking holiday with a difference, different country, different terrain, different culture. We stayed in the beautiful city of Marrakech with its huge market and miles of souks. The walks were mainly out to the nearby foothills of the Atlas Mountains where we rambled among the Berber villages. The Berber people are very friendly and hard working people. They scratch a living from the soil, such as it is, and shepherd flocks of sheep and goats on the sparse vegetation. The photos which follow are only an illustration of the town and villages, terrain and countryside. There are only a few pictures of local people as they were very camera shy. My favourite is the one of our Berber guide, Abdul, pouring us glasses of mint tea in the courtyard of a Berber household.
Many thanks to Michael for organising this interesting and exciting holiday. And congratulations to Michael on his completion of the three day trek in the high (freezing cold) Atlas Mountains.

(Thanks to Heather and Ivan for the photos and Ivan for the above text)


Our annual visit to Rathlin will be remembered as one of the highlights of the year. Twenty of us, including Garry visiting from London, enjoyed smooth crossings, an excellent walk, fine weather and a great meal in the mainland metropolis of Ballycastle afterwards. Thanks to Den for organising the trip, leading the walk and booking dinner. (Thanks to Ivan for the photos and text)


A group of 9 Ramblers enjoyed our annual visit to Breen Forest and part of the Moyle Way. The route takes in a variety of landscapes including open moorland to begin with followed by a clamber through the forest and a pleasant walk along the banks of the Glenshesk River. A real novelty was the relatively dry conditions in comparison with previous years. Lunch was taken at the riverside and afterwards we adjourned to the Scenic Inn for refreshments including Apple Tart and Custard, hard to beat. Thanks to Den for leading the walk at short notice.(Thanks to Ivan for the photos and text)


This walk, which is new to the Club, is a pleasant 4 hour ramble along minor roads and farm tracks. It contours round the Mullaghbane and Craignamaddy mountains affording splendid views of the Glenelly and Owenkillew Valleys. Eight members were joined from time to time by numerous butterflies who were also out enjoying a fine warm summer’s day. (Thanks to Ivan for the photos and text)


Denis took over this walk and we gathered at Meelmore Lodge before walking across to the Trassey track and then around the backs of Meelmore and Meelbeg.  Lunch was taken on top of Slieve Loughshannagh before descending to Slievenaman Road and then following the Ulster Way from Fofanny back to Meelmore for a deserved cuppa and apple tart and icecream(simple dishes are often the best).


Didn’t we have a lovely day, the day we went to Dublin!
The weather stayed fine, if not quite sunny.  Nine ramblers set off on the train to Dublin then all change for the DART to Greystones.  We followed the cliff path to Bray where we mingled with the crowds who had gathered to watch a rowing regatta taking place in the bay.
We found a local chippy and had a good feed before catching the DART back to Dublin.  We were early so decided to see if we could return to Belfast on an earlier train.  Arriving just 5 minutes before departure, the guard said we were OK to board.  Unfortunately an inspector in Newry disagreed and those of us on Web Fares had to pay extra for the privilege of going home early!
All in all a good day out. (Thanks to Heather for the photos and text)


Jim organised our trip to Poland, staying at the excellent 5 star Villa Marilor Hotel in the mountain resort of Zakopane for a week of walking and then most of the party stayed in Krakow for a further two nights at the Wyspianski Hotel conveniently located 5 minutes walk from the tourist hotspot of Market Square. The weather was mixed, initially too hot(the low 30s centigrade) for comfortable walking and then spectacular thunderstorms but thankfully mostly when we were indoors. Apparently Zakopane had some snow the day after we moved to Krakow.


Lorraine and Carol organised today's walk through the Downhill Demesne, followed by the climb of Binevenagh from the carpark of St Aidan's church. The weather was brilliant, one of the few days this year when suncream was needed, and a large turnout enjoyed the walks and the subsequent meal at Magilligan. I did overhear one member say that it was the first time he had climbed Binevenagh and he was proud he had managed it but he wouldn't do it again(hopefully I heard wrong).


Thanks to David for some photos from the Ballyhornan walk.


The National Trail holiday for 2013 was the 79 mile Yorkshire Wolds Way from Hessle on the Humber, north through the delightful Wolds and finishing on the North Sea coast at the resort of Filey. It wasn't as warm as anticipated, waterproofs and gloves worn for warmth sometimes, but we enjoyed dry weather each day except for 1 hour at the start and a couple of short showers on the last walking day. As usual most of the accommodations were excellent as well as the food and the drink(so the others told me, I hardly had a drop). Thanks to Mary, Lorraine, Trevor and Jim for their cheerful company and thanks to me for organising it(I always wanted to play the trumpet). Sorry about the large number of photos, just too much to show and remember.


We met at Carricklittle carpark at 10.00am and it was a morning of welcomes, once to Ruth who joined us for the first time and secondly to Judith who made her return to the fold after a long absence. The objective for the day was to climb Binnian. However when we discovered that gusts of wind at the crossroads between Lammigan and Binnian were so strong that one of our group was literally blown to the ground we decided to amend our route. We trekked round the Blue Lough into the Annalong Valley where we found a sheltered spot for lunch. A fine walk then to Carricklittle and afternoon tea in Newcastle.(thanks to Ivan for the photos and text)


In glorious warm Spring weather our walk today took us up through Kilbroney Park to the Cloughmore Stone where we drew breath for a while. We then headed for Slieve Martin, Slieve Fadda and Knockshee, all with stunning views of Carlingford Lough and beyond. We then dropped down towards the Cassy Water following its tributary, the Watergap River until we re-entered the Rostrevor Forest. Here we were witness to, at very close quarters, the comings and goings of a helicopter which was allegedly helping with the construction of new cycle tracks for the World P & F Games in August. Hot apple pie, thick cream and a pot of tea in the Kilbroney Cafe rounded off an excellent days walking.(Thanks to Ivan for the photos and text)


For the Club’s Spring break we took advantage of a very reasonably priced Ulsterbus Tour to the Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney. The itinerary included luxury coach travel, 4 nights bed, breakfast and evening dinner, and tours of the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula. Although the weather was less than perfect in the 3 full days of our stay we managed to undertake 4 different walks. These included a circular walk round the lakes, a march through the Gap of Dunloe followed by an interesting boat trip, a serious climb of Purple and Tomies Mountains, and a short exploration of the Kerry Way. For those who opted out of some of the walks the coach tours were a very satisfactory substitute.(Thanks to Ivan for photos and text and to Chris for the ferry photo)


Nearing the date of our walk at Slieve Gullion I was worrying how I would modify the walk if the weather was poor on the summit, I needn't have worried as the day was brilliant for February. Eight of us met at the visitor centre before the walk, most of us arriving early to enjoy a coffee and scone(soon to be burnt off was the excuse). The centre has been improved since our last visit and a new kid's playground meant the carpark and centre were busy even on a Sunday morning. The day was sunny most of the time and the below zero temperatures meant the normally soft/muddy ground on the summit was frozen solid, even the summit lake was frozen.


Thanks to Helen for sending me these photos from the Mournes weekend arranged by Michael. I'm told that the social side was enjoyable as ever but the weather didn't play ball.


Helen and Mary had organised a walk from Lisburn back to Stranmillis along the towpath. Arriving in Lisburn by train fifteen of us(actually only 14 at this stage, one member joined us during the walk as he hadn't set his alarm!) set off along the reasonably dry towpath only to be informed after a few miles that part of the towpath was badly flooded. We crossed to the other bank and walked through Dunmurry before rejoining the towpath to complete our walk. Not the route we had anticipated but still enjoyable, hopefully Helen and Mary made notes so we can repeat the route? Thanks to Helen and Ivan for some additional photos.


The club AGM was held at the Pavilion on Friday 25th January and was attended by nearly 40 members and guests, poor weather and traffic disruptions affected the attendance. The evening commenced with the AGM business, followed by an interesting presentation from Jim on his role as a volunteer at the Olympics. A slideshow was played during the meal interval and ballot tickets were sold raising about £150 for the Mourne Mountain Rescue. The musical entertainment then closed the evening.


Colin organised a walk round the Long Haul trail at Tollymore. We finished our walk with a stop at Dundrum to sample the scones.


Helen led a dozen members round the perimeter trail at the Castleward estate. Our visit coincided with the Crafted 2012 event at Castleward, the Craft and Design Collective's Christmas Craft Fair held in the property. We completed our walk with a brief look at the stalls and a chance to sample a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine, very welcome on a dry but cold day.


Ken organised our always popular autumn break and a dozen members travelled to Rathdrum to stay at the recommended Stirabout Lane B&B. Thanks to Michael for supplying the initial photos and some captions. The later photos are courtesy of Richard.


On a most glorious Autumn day seven intrepid ramblers set out from Carricklittle carpark to undertake the ascent of Lamagan, Cove and Beg in quick succession. Our route took us past the Annalong Wood and the Blue Lough where we stopped for a banana break. Here we witnessed to our great surprise a baptism of total immersion taking place in the freezing waters of the lough. Onward and upward to the Lamagan slog. A short stop at the summit for pics and then we continued towards Beg via the Cove "cliff route". Lunch was taken in a sheltered cliff-top "cove" with spectacular views across Carlingford Lough and beyond. Never have I envied the so-called privileged, in their fancy villas and yachts in the South of France less, it was just magic. The walk took us as far as the Brandy Pad, with only a short pause at the Devil's Coachroad to contemplate taking a shortcut, and then back by the Annalong Valley where we had another surprise in store for us. A shepherd was in the process of rounding up his herd of sheep which were scattered all over the mountain side. His part of the project seemed relatively simple; his collie, dog working under shouted orders, appeared to have to do most of the work. Fascinating. We arrived back at Carricklittle almost seven hours after we had started, a long day but one of the best in our programme. (Thanks to Ivan for the text and to Ivan(I) and Helen(H) for the photos and captions.)

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