In the first of two back-to-back hikes in the Mourne Mountains Clare walks from Bloody Bridge near Newcastle, on the coast of County Down, up into the hills. Led by Alex Rose of the Northern Ireland Young Walkers, they begin at a stone sculpture which – from a certain angle – look like a human face in profile. This is the Smuggler’s Head which helps to tell the story of the ‘Brandy Pad’ a local smuggler’s route. It’s a history-rich Ramblings which continues by following the Bloody Bridge River, so called because bodies thrown into the water, following a massacre during the 1641 rebellion, turned it blood red. Soon they’re climbing steeply up to one of the Mourne summits, Chimney Rock, partly following an old quarry-rail track used to bring granite down to sea-level.
The Northern Ireland Young Walkers were formed in 2005 as a way of getting more youthful hikers out and about. It’s such a successful club that people don’t like to leave, so the age range has widened as the members have aged.
The second Mournes ramble – recorded on the same day - will be broadcast next in the series. It starts at a place whose name couldn’t be more of a contrast: Happy Valley.
Grid Ref for Bloody Bridge Car Park: SB472822
Presenter: Clare Balding
Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Karen Gregor