The Story Behind The Photo: ‘Follow The Yellow Brick Road’

This entry is part 5 of 19 in the series The Story Behind The Photo

The latest article on our series ‘The Story Behind The Photo’ comes from the snow-covered Mourne Mountains courtesy of John McGuigan, @IBGrizzly on twitter.

Batt's Wall, Mourne Mountains
The High Mournes are popularised in literature and song and rank amongst the most frequently walked ranges in Ireland. Part of their attraction lies in the Mourne Wall, once a demarking of territory by the Belfast Water Commissioners, now a modern day, trustworthy navigational aid to intrepid hill walkers. Visitors to the beautiful area inevitably miss out on the numerous peaks and walks on the other side of the Moyad Road, in the lower Western Mournes. Similarly to the Mourne Wall, part of the Western Mournes are graced by Batt’s Wall, covering some of their best peaks.

On New Year’s Day 2011, myself and two friends decided to follow the horseshoe colloquially known as “the Birdie Walk” – Shanlieve, Eagle Mt, Slieve Moughanmore, Pigeon Rock Mt, Cock Mt and Hen Mt. There had been a few days of snowfall and freezing conditions in the mountains, so we deemed it a good time to follow Batt’s Wall and cross the normally tricky obstacle of the Castle Bog.

Leaving from Leitrim Lodge, we took the track to Pierces Castle and skirted around the edge of the bog to meet the wall atop Tievedockargh Mountain. In the bog proper, the wall gives way to a barbed wire fence which can guide you across, though in normal conditions you can end up soaked to your waist if not careful! We regained the wall again and started to climb the impressive edifice that is Shanlieve’s western side when we quickly found the wall beginning to vanish. The strong southern winds had produced snow drifts up to 7 feet deep in some places against the wall, with the wall soon appearing as now more than a stony pathway.

The photo shows the view approaching the summit of Shanlieve having carefully walked along the top of the wall. We followed this “path” across the summits of Eagle Mt, Slieve Moughanmore and Pigeon Rock Mt before turning north away from it and crossing the Deer’s meadow to Cock Mt and our return to Leitrim Lodge.

Whilst walking on Batt’s Wall was a necessity in this instance, it is becoming common practice to do the same, even in good conditions, on the Mourne Wall. The Mourne Wall is becoming damaged in certain places due to this. Due to its standing, effectively, as a national monument I am in no way condoning this practice generally.