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CASTLE WARD 27 DECEMBER 16

Thanks to Sinead for organising some necessary after Christmas exercise in the form of a walk round Castle Ward, photos thanks to Ivan.

ANTRIM COAST ROAD AND CARNFUNNOCK COUNTRY PARK 29 OCTOBER 16

It was a fine, dry, mild Autumn day when ten Ramblers met at Larne Leisure Centre to walk along part of the world famous Antrim Coast Road as far as the Carnfunnock Country Park and thence, by forest trails, to Ballygally. The Coast Road was designed and built by local labour under the supervision of the pioneering civil engineer, William Bald. Work began in 1832 and took some ten years to complete. To this day no other coastal route has surpassed it for its stunning views across the Irish Sea to Scotland, the white limestone cliffs on the inland side and the black basalt shoreline, and the many glimpses of “glenland” including one of the Club’s favourites, Sallagh Braes. Initially the walk takes in the lovely Larne Town Park, gifted to the town by the wealthy Chaine family. Lunch was taken in comparative comfort at picnic tables outside the Park Café where thick, tasty beef stew, among other culinary delights, was on offer. The trail from the Park wound inland through woodland and emerged in Ballygally (ice cream and a dander on the beach) before returning to Larne. Thanks to Trevor McCormick for leading this very pleasant walk.(thanks to Helen Magill and Ivan for photos and Ivan for the text)

NORTHERN PORTUGAL 10-17 SEPTEMBER 16

In a return to Portugal Michael organised a Ramblers Holidays two centre trip to the Wilderness Parks of Northern Portugal, staying for four nights in Castro Laboriero and three nights in Peneda. Some of the group then stayed on for two additional nights in Porto before returning home. Thanks to Heather and to Helen Magill for the photos.

SLIEVE GULLION 25 SEPTEMBER 16

Today's walk was a very enjoyable return to Slieve Gullion, walking to the top and sheltering from the strong winds to take lunch in the burial chamber. We then managed to keep upright as we walked along the ridge to descend to Ballard Road and follow the road back to the visitor centre where we enjoyed another cuppa(to warm us up). Five members enjoyed the walk and three of us then retired to the Downshire Arms to gorge ourselves on venison pie, marvellous. Thanks to Orlagh for allowing me to use some of her photos plus my own.

LARNE CARNFUNNOCK 24 JULY 16

The walk on the programme was the Sallagh Braes but due to heavy mist we decided to change the route.  We walked from Larne promenade to Carnfunnock Country Park where we had coffee and tray bakes in the cafe before visiting the walled garden.  Then we took a walk around Carnfunnock before returning along the coast.(thanks to Helen Magill for the photos and text)

BREEN FOREST/MOYLE WAY 06 AUGUST 16

The start of this walk had been changed since our last visit several years ago so Jim and I worked out a new route which followed about half of our previous route. We followed the new path to Croaghan avoiding a nature preservation area and then turned right on a downhill path to a firebreak through the forest which met a forest road. We followed this until we turned off to follow the Moyle Way down to Glenshesk river and then our previous route along the river and back through the trees to the road where my car had been parked. An excellent day's walk and the six walkers finished with an enjoyable meal at the Scenic Inn.

EAGLE MOUNTAIN 02 JULY 16

Thanks to Norman for arranging this walk at Eagle Mountain and thanks to Cowan for the photos.

DALES WAY 14-21 JUNE 16

Six days walking to cover 80+ miles and 2800 metres of ascent, a companionable group of eight and some decent weather(almost), plus a chance to experience some of the best of the Yorkshire Dales and to dip a toe into the Lake District. That is what I hoped for and also what I got. As usual for a Macs trip the accommodation was good and the luggage transfers seamless. The evening meals were usually very enjoyable although the service was decidedly leisurely on one occasion. The walking was very enjoyable, even the longer days and the scenery superb. Thanks to all the group for their company, the banter was "stickin out"(see early photo for an explanation if required) and thanks also to Imelda and Cowan for use of their photos to supplement my own.

ROE VALLEY & BINEVENAGH 4-5 JUNE 16

During their stay at the Roe Resort, members enjoyed a Saturday walk to Binevenagh and a Sunday walk in Roe Valley Country Park. A fuller description by Ivan is on the Photos page. Thanks to Ivan for supplying the text and some photos and to Cowan for the other photos.

WESTPORT, ACHILL ISLAND & Co MAYO 15-19 MAY 16

The club's 2016 Spring Break, again courtesy of Ulsterbus Tours, was to the Clew Bay Hotel in Westport. Thanks to Mary for providing the photos of the walks enjoyed by the members.

Slieve Loughshannagh, Meelbeg, Meelmore, Doan and Carn

For today's walk the group agreed on a change from the planned route around the Spelga Skyline. From Ott mountain car park we walked to the wall and the saddle between Carn and Slieve Loughshannagh.  We climbed Slieve Loughshannagh and then went onto Slieve Meelbeg where we had morning coffee at the summit.  It was such a nice day we decided to go over to Slieve Meelmore and down the rocky path towards Pollaphuca and back along the track to Doan. Lunch break was at the top of Doan where the spectacular views and bright sunny weather provided great photo opportunities. Our group of five ramblers finished the walk by heading to the top of Carn mountain for some more views of this beautiful part of the Mournes.  We finished the day with a trip to Castlewellan for rhubarb/ apple pie.(thanks to Helen Magill for the text and to Cowan for the photos)

BALLYCASTLE/RATHLIN 7-8 MAY 16

My original thought had been to arrange an overnight stay on Rathlin but the renovations/upgrade to the Manor House forced me to look for alternative accommodation in Ballycastle and select the very welcoming An Caislean guesthouse on Quay Street(highly recommended) and the nearby Central Wine Bar for our evening meal. On Saturday we caught the 10.00 ferry from Ballycastle to Rathlin, bounced around a bit and tried to avoid the sea spray, before landing at Church Bay. Lazy Aidan caught a lift to the RSPB centre(admittedly he had volunteered to help on the Saturday) whilst the rest of us walked to West Lighthouse, had lunch and viewed the birds before the enjoyable lighthouse tour. On the walk back we detoured to follow the Kinramer North Trail before rejoining the road back to the harbour. After another refreshing ferry crossing we booked in at the guesthouse and then enjoyed our evening meal followed by a cosy seat in the guesthouse lounge. In the morning we parked cars at both ends of our short walk from Fairhead farm to Murlough Bay before heading home.

BRANDY PAD 9 APRIL 16

Today's walk started from Bloody Bridge carpark and followed the river, past the quarry, to the Wall for a welcome lunch break as we watched the fell runners stream past.  We then followed at a more sedate pace along the Brandy Pad to the Hares' Gap and followed the Trassey Track down to the carpark where a taxi took us back to Bloody Bridge. Considering the weather earlier in the week we were fortunate to enjoy a dry day with sunshine at times. The walk was attended by six members plus two guests, Terence and Alastair whom we hope to see again. Several members brought carrots to feed the ponies I mentioned in the flyer, sadly they were on the opposite slope.(photos and text by me(John) as I enjoyed(?) my first club walk for several months)

DRUMBEG/LAGAN TOWPATH 03 APRIL 16

This Sunday marked the first of the Sunday afternoon walks during April. Thanks to Ivan for providing these photos.

MURLOUGH 27 MARCH 16

Nine ramblers gathered at Dundrum Castle to share in the novelty of experiencing a new Club walk through the glorious sand dunes within the National Trust's Nature Reserve at Murlough, Co. Down. The weather forecast was not encouraging but, apart from a sharp shower ten minutes before the finish, the rain stayed away. As will be seen from the photos it was a dull, brooding day with occasional flashes of sunshine and blue skies. The walk itself is through a maze of good quality paths between the dunes which, for the most part, are covered in vegetation. Nature, and contrived nature, are at work here. A herd of "wild" ponies, a herd of docile cherry-blossom black cattle, rabbits by the score and so on. Ever changing vistas of the Mournes, the Irish Sea, drumlins, Dundrum Bay, no shortage of variety. Altogether a very satisfactory few hours communing with nature.(thanks to Ivan for text, Helen Magill and Ivan for photos)

KILBRONEY 13 MARCH 16

On a fine Spring day 19 ramblers set off from Kilbroney Park to circumnavigate Rostrevor Forest taking in the small outlying mountains of Slievemartin, Slievefadda and Knockshee. The first stop was the famous Cloughmore Stone which apparently started life in Scotland but eventually settled at a spot with an outstanding view over Carlingford Lough in one direction and the high Mournes in the other. Lunch was taken at the summit of Slieve Martin in the shelter of the telecommunications building when a sharp breeze quickly cooled down an overheated group. The walk along the ridge to Knockshee, summiting Slievefadda en route, was slightly damp underfoot but the spectacular views made up for any slight inconvenience. At Knockshee Cranfield beach came into view where Orlagh spent happy days making sandcastles when she was a child. The walk finished with the usual tramp through the forest back to the car park. Thanks to Aidan and Geoffrey for their joint leadership.(thanks to Cowan for photos and Ivan for other photos and text)

CASTLEWELLAN LOANENS 28 FEBRUARY 16

On a bright but cold February Sunday Den led a walk round Castlewellan Loanens, encountering some wildlife(domesticated?) along the route. Thanks to Lorraine for the photos and captions.

BELFAST HILLS 13 FEBRUARY 16

On a cold (Baltic), dry morning, 11 hardy ramblers, including two potential new members, met at Divis and Black Mountain National Trust Car Park to undertake a combination of the hill trails. The walk was led by Muriel King and took in the Lough Trail, the Summit Trail and the Ridge Trail. Discretion being the better part of valour, the group bypassed the Heath Trail (as no one had brought their wellies!). The ramble started in misty conditions, denying the opportunity to avail of the views on the ascent of Divis and indeed, at the summit too. However the clouds lifted on the descent and on the Ridge Trail to allow spectacular views of Belfast City, Scrabo, Strangford Lough and the Mournes. The bitter cold wind and exposed nature of the hills kept us on the move and a speedy lunch was taken at the picnic tables at the NT centre (sadly closed at present). On the way Cowan did his best to point out the archaeology so expertly described by Jim Bradley at the AGM. As one rambler pointed out, it was more Baldrick than Tony Robinson!(thanks to Cowan for the text and photos)

MOURNES WEEKEND 5-7 FEBRUARY 16

Michael organised an enjoyable weekend stay at Newcastle Cottages for the members; a mix of dining out, party games and some walking to build an appetite. The Saturday walk was the Long Haul Trail in Tollymore and included a game of hide-and-seek with the rain, basically a draw as they avoided the heavy rain but were found by the lighter rain. On the Sunday there was a drier walk at Murlough.(thanks to Ivan for the photos and captions)

AGM 22 JANUARY 16

As always the business element of our AGM was suitably brief, four members of the committee stood down after long faithful service(Helen Mallon, Alison, Ivan and Geoffrey) and two members joined the committee(Sharon Wylde and Cowan Higgins). Our guest speaker was Jim Bradley from Belfast Hills Partnership with an interesting and wide ranging presentation on various aspects of the Hills such as the history, geology and flora of the area. During the meal interval there was a slideshow of the club's walks, holidays and social events during 2015 and the evening concluded with the raffle in aid of NI Hospice followed by Victor and his music.

MEELMORE, COMMEDAGH 9 JANUARY 16

Despite torrential rain earlier in the day fourteen ramblers turned up for the first Mournes walk of the New Year, an ambitious trek from Meelmore Lodge to the Hare's Gap, along the Brandy Pad to the saddle between Donard and Commedagh, and back via the summits of Commedagh, Corragh and Slievenaglogh. The weather, however, moderated mid-morning and was fine, if somewhat dull, for the rest of the day. The going at the start was very wet underfoot and fording the Trassey River which was in full spate was "interesting". Morning Coffee at the Hare's Gap followed by a reasonable slog round the Brandy Pad for lunch at the aforementioned saddle. Conditions underfoot changed dramatically for the ascent of Commedagh due to a generous snowfall overnight. As one wag was heard to remark "There's snow business like snow business ". The summit of Commedagh was achieved without incident but the descent was rather different. Slipping and sliding was the order of the day, and for safety's sake progress was slow. The group arrived back at Meelmore Lodge in fading light having had the satisfaction of completing a really testing walk. Thanks to Sinead and Stephen for their excellent leadership in difficult conditions.(thanks to Ivan for text and first photos, Aidan for summit photo and Cowan for the remaining photos)

 
 
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