“I have seen landscapes, notably in the Mourne Mountains…which under a particular light made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge.” So wrote C.S. Lewis.
The Mourne Mountains, at any time of year are a quite majestic sight. But in winter, after a fall of snow, they are transformed, if only briefly, into a magical land, seemingly a million miles away from the everyday routines of the surrounding lowlands. It is a sight which made C.S. Lewis “yearn to see County Down in the snow”.
It is that same particular light which constantly motivates hill walker and amateur photographer, Brian McCready, to grasp every opportunity to visit the Mournes and to capture their unique beauty through his photographs.
The onset of winter does nothing to dull his enthusiasm. Indeed it provides fresh opportunities to see the landscape from a totally different perspective, especially when clothed in a fresh layer of snow.
Land of Narnia
An early start and a two hour hike in the dark to the summit of Slieve Bearnagh was rewarded with stunning views as the sun began to rise over the Mournes and direct its warming rays onto the peaks below.
A sculptured granite tor stands in splendid isolation near the summit of Slieve Binnian, surrounded by snow and early morning mist.
After starting from Donard car park at 5.30am on a freezing cold January morning, I arrived on the summit of Slieve Donard just in time to see the pink glow of a new day emerge over Dundrum Bay.
A Momentary Light
Looking back towards the Hare’s Gap from Slievenaglough, a break in the clouds over the Ben Crom Reservoir allows a momentary shaft of light to illuminate the lower slopes of Slieve Bearnagh.
As the sun rises over the summit tor of Slieve Bearagh it burns off the early morning cloud, which had lingered for several hours, to reveal a frozen landscape after an overnight fall of snow.
Bitterly cold winds forced a swift retreat from the summit of Slieve Commadagh, but provided an opportunity to capture the first rays of sunrise illuminate the summit of Slieve Bearnagh.
For most of the day constant bands of thick cloud covered the peaks and blocked out the sun. Then just before sunset, the clouds parted, and for a short period the landscape was transformed, as late evening sunlight spread out across the Mournes.
You can see more of Brian’s photographs of the Mourne Mountains at www.facebook.com/brianmccreadyphotography