The forecast was for a fine day, so we decided to make our target the highest point in the Sperrins Sawel Mountain, with the option of the second highest Mullaghclougha. We headed north from the cottage along the Owenkillew River, on rather twisty narrow lanes, and then over the equally narrow pass of Barnes Gap and along similar undulating lanes on the south side of the Glenelly River to Cranagh. We then took a slightly less narrow and less windy road to the parking by the cattle grid at H590970.
In brilliant sunshine, we headed up over rough and boggy ground to ascend towards Dart Mountain running along the south side of the fence: after a while the gradient eased and the ground got easier with occasional signs of a faint path. We knew that we would have to ascend Dart on both the outbound and return paths to Sawel. We crossed a stile to reach the cairn on Dart from where we had good views – better views than from the higher but more rounded Sawel. The wind on Dart was strong, but we had a bit more shelter as we headed on the slightly better defined path heading towards Sawel. The wind wasn’t quite as bad as Dart, but still too windy for Caroline to use the trig point to support the VHF antenna, but there was a convenient fence post on the more sheltered side of the hill. Martyn struggled to get the HF antenna up in the wind, but once he had he found 5MHz was slightly better than yesterday – 10 contacts. Caroline qualified on 2m FM with just 4 contacts before moving to 7MHz which was in reasonable shape with 13 contacts, with final calls on 2m FM picking up another two contacts. We spent some time trying to make a 2m FM contact with Nick GM4OOE on Ben Nevis; we could hear him at about readability 3, but he couldn’t hear enough of us to make the contact.
Given the lovely weather and the relatively late sunset time, we decided to not bother with other bands to enable us to also do Mullaghclogha, so we retraced our steps back to the car, topped up our water supplies and headed off in the opposite direction following the fence line over rough ground. As we ascended Carnakilly the going got progressively harder with a series of peat hags to cross, and we started to doubt we would have time to get to the summit, but thankfully after crossing a couple of fences the peat hags gave way to rough ground and we made better progress over Mullaghdoo and up to the indistinct top of Mullaghclogha. The true summit was probably a small cairn the other side of the fence, but we decided to stay where the wind was less bad. Caroline again used a fencepost to support the VHF antenna, while Martyn again fought the wind. At least we had brilliant sunshine. Caroline qualified on 2m FM taking 45 minutes to get 7 contacts, while Martyn got 7 contacts on 5MHz and 6 on 7MHz. Caroline tried 14MHz, but only 2 contacts.
Stations on Mullaghclogha
Mullaghclogha towards Sawel & Dart
Long shadows descending Mullaghclogha with views towards Sawel & Dart
On the way down we managed to find a less bad way across the peat hags – the right way was to cut off the corner in the fence with the 490m sub-summit. We took the longer but better B road route via Plumbridge and Gortin back to the cottage, to be greeted by the cottage cat: a good end to a long excellent day.
M(I)3ZCB with Martyn M(I)1MAJ