As I am ‘coming home’ to Northern Ireland for 2 weeks on Sunday I was thinking about what I might do while I am over and I remembered the second time I climbed Slieve Donard. I must have been in my early 20s and I was in Newcastle with my mother. We walked up through the forest to the edge of the natural tree line and to where the ice house is. My mother decided to head back down and I said I would carry on for a while as the weather was nice. I climbed and climbed and just kept pushing myself to get to the top. I think this was before the days of mobile phones (not THAT long ago!) and there was no way of letting anyone know where I was … I think it’s this that really made it such an incredible experience. Everyone is so utterly contactable these days, so it’s nice to NOT be contactable once in a while! The Mourne Mountains is one of the most beautiful areas in the world that I have seen. Of course I do see it through rose-tinted specs as this was the area that my family always went on holiday for a month in the summer. Anyway, I heartily recommend this climb. One thing to say though, if you haven’t climbed it before. When you get above the natural tree line (there are still conifers planted to the right), and past the ice house on the left, be sure to keep walking straight ahead and don’t be tempted to go off to the left and across the river – to do that is the most direct route, but will take you to Eagle Rock which is very shear and certainly NOT a walk! Keep going straight on for ages (the bit as far as the ice house is only approximately 1/5 of the way up) until you eventually get to the Mourne Wall, then turn left and walk up beside the wall right to the top.