Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Sgurr nan Gillean

A wee taster…


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A very good friend gave us a Groupon for Christmas. It was a bed and breakfast Friday night in the excellent Glassdrumman Lodge just outside Annalong, a fishing port on the edge of the Mourne Mountains.

On the Friday we took a walk to Lough Shannagh, the largest natural lake in the Mournes.

Misty Lough Shannagh




John at LoughShannagh

And so we arrived at Glasdrumman Lodge for the night. Had a good fish dish at the Harbour Inn in Annalong. Our room was Slieve Binnian – and guess what our view from the bedroom window was ?

Slieve Binnian from our room

Next morning after a very good gourmet breakfast, we set off to walk through the mountains to Newcastle, the Lodge staff having offered to pick us up at Donard Park and bring us back to pick up the car. So off we went accompanied by the Lodge dog which we later learned was very fond of accompanying randon guests up into the mountains…

Slieve Binnian as we left the Lodge

Rainbow over Binnian from the slopes of Rocky Mountain

We climbed past Long Seefin, rounded Rocky Moutain and dropped down into the Bog of Donard from where he took the Brandy Pad before climbing the crest and descending to Newcastle by the horribly rough Glen River route – possibly my least favourite path in the Moures. It was very windy all the way from the Bog of Donard, but we got brilliant misty views back down the Annalong Vally with the Devil’s Coachroad on the far side. here’s just one of them…

Magical view down Annalong Valley

A great mini break!

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Yesterday I took a trip with my parents to St Patrick country – Downpatrick – where tradition has it he is buried in the grounds of Down Cathedral.

Down Cathedral, Downpatrick

Today is 17 March, St Patrick’s Day and below are some of the most famous lines from St Patrick’s Breastplate:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

But today Ruth and I went elsewhere in Co Down – walking in the Mourne Mountains. We parked at Carrick Little and soon joined the Mourne Wall which we followed to the top of Slieve Binnion, then north through the tors along the ridge and the steep descent to the col between Slieve Binnion and Slieve Lamagan before turning right and following the track back to the car park. You can find the route we took here.

There are no stories of Patrick walking in these mountains, but it was a great way to spend his day enjoying some of the beautiful landscape of the country which Patrick led to Christianity all those years ago.

Our objective - Slieve Binnion

At the summit with Silent Valley reservoir below

Lunch in the sun at picnic rock

Looking north over Ben Crom as we descended

We picked our way through all those large white bags of rock;  a rock stepped path is being built on this side of Binnian. It is needed since this slope is badly eroded. Looking forward to seeing the completed work.

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Stunning Loch Oich - Day 3 of my Glen Glen Way walk

On Thursday last 18 March 2010, I had a day spiritual retreat with colleagues from the Wycliffe Bible Translators office in N. Ireland. The day was led by Tom Wilson, a local Presbyterian minister who leads courses and retreats: find out more on his website Steps

Early on in the day, Tom talked about the need to learn how to be still and find rest in God. We were just having a one day retreat, but Tom mentioned that sometimes we need longer retreats that start with exercise, eating well and sleeping well…  It took me back to the first week of my four month sabbatical (Nov 2008 to Feb 2009) when I set off on a five day 78 mile walk following the Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness in the West of Scotland.

For months before I had been tired and stressed and October 2008 had been very busy – busy and exciting – but busy and exhausting! My walk was the ideal way to leave the busyness and stress of over-work behind and God blessed me with five glorious days of cold clear dry weather! As you can see in the photo above.

Walking alone, sometimes meeting no-one all day, was not only great exercise, but also a great way to focus on God. Psalm 121 became my theme for the five days; very appropriate as I constantly lifted my eyes to the mountains through which the Great Glen has carved its route.

And I ate well! Packed lunch midday but a good meal each evening. Possibly the best was at the Old Railway Restaurant in Spean Bridge – Jacobean Chicken Fillet stuffed with haggis followed by Apple and Cranberry Crumble with quite amazing custard!

And I slept well each night in B&Bs along the Way – no problem after a 15 mile plus walk each day!

But enough of the past… back to the retreat. After lunch we had time alone. I sat looking out at the garden. Through the rain-soaked double glazed windows, the metal frame of a swing appeared jaggedly disjointed. I realised that I was not seeing the reality of the metal frame. It wasn’t until the rain dried on the windows that I saw the frame clearly once again. I wrote in  my notebook:

I want to see and experience the true reality of life in God.

There was a quotation from Mark Buchanan in Tom’s notes:

Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that you need to be still.

This week’s retreat took me back to the benefits of sabbatical. Now as I get into my new – downsized – role with Wycliffe, I am resolving to plan time to get in line with Psalm 62:1:

My soul finds rest in God alone.

More of my Great Glen Way photos can be seen here on Facebook.

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