The Photographer’s Eye: Brian McCready

322 - Days Like This

We caught up with Brian McCready, a hill walker who combined his love of the mountains with an interest in photography to produce some of the best images we have seen of the Mourne Mountains.

Brian has kindly shared some of his quite magical photos of the Mournes with us. You can see more of Brian’s fantastic work at www.brianmccready.com.

I’ve been walking in the Mourne Mountains since being introduced to them by my uncle at the age of eleven. A few years later I was regularly camping there with my cousin at every opportunity in the school holidays. It became a real live Narnia to me throughout my teens. Then work, marriage and children all lined up to take priority over the next few years. During those intervening years I developed a greater interest in photography, first with portraits of the kids when they were younger, then moving into action shots when they played football every Saturday morning for several years. When they finally finished playing football, there was suddenly a huge void to be filled, and the very real prospect from then on, of spending every Saturday morning at Tescos. I took the only other option open to me, and literally took to the hills!

Living in Banbridge, County Down means that the Mournes are always within easy reach. Within an hour of leaving home I can be happily walking along the Mourne Wall taking in the wonderful views on offer along the way. And this afforded me the opportunity to re-kindle my interest in landscape photography. Over the last couple of years especially, I head for the Mournes whenever I can. In particular, I love the stretch of the Mourne Wall from Slieve Muck to Slieve Meelmore, as it never fails to provide some amazing views. It’s also easily accessible from any of the little car parks scattered along the road above Spelga Reservoir, making it a firm favourite on long summer evenings and short winter afternoons alike.

Most recently, I even managed to negotiate a three day leave of absence from all domestic responsibilities to go camping, with the aim of being on hand to capture the light in the Mournes at sunrise and sunset. Starting from Carrick Little car park, I spent the first day in and around the Annalong Valley, camping overnight in my trusty twenty-five year old tent at one of the distinctive ‘U’ shaped bends by the Annalong River.  An evening on Slieve Binnian proved a magical experience. Clouds prevailed for most of the afternoon, but then as I descended its summit towards the saddle with Slievelamagan, the sun began to break through and the resulting light brought the peaks of Ben Crom, Doan and Slieve Bearnagh to life.

The following evening found me camped at the head of the Ben Crom Reservoir. This place must surely be as close to Heaven as it’s possible to get. I spent the hour before sunset racing from the Hare’s Gap along the side of Slieve Bearnagh in a mad dash to the summit before the sun disappeared. I had been walking in the shadow of the summit tors for a few minutes, but as I made it to the top, the sun suddenly illuminated the Mournes and cast the most amazing warm glow over the landscape. And then it was gone just as quickly as it appeared. Going down again in the dark isn’t as much fun but it was certainly worth it. For me, the beauty of the Mournes is that every walk there makes me look forward to the next one even more.

The Height of Summer

The Height Of Summer
On a clear summer evening, the views from the Mourne Wall at Slieveloughshannagh, across the Mournes to the Irish Sea and beyond, are uninterrupted.

A Different LightThe heavy and prolonged snows earlier this year turned the Mournes into an alpine-like playground for a few weeks. It provided opportunities to see the landscape in a stunning new light. This picture, overlooking Spelga Reservoir, was taken on the slopes of Ott Mountain just before sunset on a very cold evening in March.

A Different Light
The heavy and prolonged snows earlier this year turned the Mournes into an alpine-like playground for a few weeks. It provided opportunities to see the landscape in a stunning new light. This picture, overlooking Spelga Reservoir, was taken on the slopes of Ott Mountain just before sunset on a very cold evening in March.

The RisingThe Annalong Valley provides the base for any number of walks throughout the Mournes. This picture of Slievelamagan was taken early one morning on route to the Ben Crom Reservoir.

The Rising
The Annalong Valley provides the base for any number of walks throughout the Mournes. This picture of Slievelamagan was taken early one morning on route to the Ben Crom Reservoir.

Waiting for the LightOn a descent of Slieve Binnian the sun began to break through the clouds. I waited around for about twenty minutes and was rewarded with this image of the sun's rays illuminating the slopes of Ben Crom.

Waiting for the Light
On a descent of Slieve Binnian the sun began to break through the clouds. I waited around for about twenty minutes and was rewarded with this image of the sun’s rays illuminating the slopes of Ben Crom.

NirvanaI've been camping at the head of the Ben Crom Reservoir for the last thirty years, and it never fails to impress me. This shot taken about an hour after sunset was taken on my most recent camping trip.

Nirvana
I’ve been camping at the head of the Ben Crom Reservoir for the last thirty years, and it never fails to impress me. This shot taken about an hour after sunset was taken on my most recent camping trip.

Days Like ThisA race against the clock to reach the summit of Slieve Bearnagh before sunset was worth it to be able to take in views like this for a few moments.

Days Like This
A race against the clock to reach the summit of Slieve Bearnagh before sunset was worth it to be able to take in views like this for a few moments.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: