THE DEVIL'S COACH ROAD
Update: 360° VR full climb video added below!
THE DEVIL’S COACH ROAD
“Every step of the way felt incredibly exposed. The occasional rock that did tumble, serving as a reminder of how we would follow if we weren’t careful.“
GUEST ADVENTURES, YOU SAY?
Heard about these already? Then scroll on past and get to this week’s feature 👍
If it’s your first time reading, let us quickly explain. Each week we’re sent and tagged in SO many brilliant photos on social media, from your travels around Northern Ireland.
We try to feature as many locations as possible in our Fan Pic Friday feature each week, to give you lots of ideas for places to visit.
But we’ve also spotted some like-minded people who we really want you to know about. Their photos, videos and stories pop up each week, instantly making us want to stop what we’re doing… and go join them on an adventure.
And some day we will.
But for now, we’re inviting them to take over our channels.
This week, it’s local filmmaker/runner/explorer Stephen Reid.
…and for his adventure…well, if you don’t like heights…maybe switch off now.
THE DEVIL’S COACH ROAD, MOURNE MOUNTAINS
My foot slipped for a second time on the loose grey rocks and I looked up into the sheer sided gully just in time to see the gigantic boulder that was bearing down on me.
As the boulder smashed into me, I could faintly hear the screams of my fellow climbers above. I felt light, almost floating as I rolled and tumbled down the razor sharp rocks into the green-brown valley below.
Down, down, down.
Wooooshhhhhh, I began to hear the voice once more.
"Go one at a time and staggered, we don't want anyone getting hit by falling rocks"
Snapped out of the daydream, I was back to reality and looking at the cheerful face of Rob our guide for the day and owner of Falcon Outdoors. His safety instructions had sent my hyperactive imagination into overdrive and as he was explaining the best way to go up the gully I was smiling and nodding, all the while imagining all the ways it could go horribly wrong but was highly unlikely to.
We were about to scramble up The Devils Coach Road, a 150m high gully that tears a chunk out of the side of Slieve Beg. It's a sight many causal hikers to the Mournes will recognise as it's a key feature that can be seen from the popular climb up Slieve Donard from the Donard/Commedagh Saddle.
FANCY A BIT OF SCAMBLING?
We started the day nearly 3 hours earlier at Meelmore lodge and had already ticked off Slievenaglogh, Slieve Corragh & Slieve Commedagh. I was smugly happy that I was wearing waterproof hiking socks as parts of our route had been very boggy.
Once we reached the saddle between Commedagh and Donard, Rob asked us "do you fancy a bit of scrambling?".
The following unanimous decision found us standing at the bottom of the Devils Coach Road 25mins later listening to Rob's safety briefing. It's a route that's only recommended for experienced hikers.
The gully starts off wide, with vertical walls climbing at either side and a mixture of large and small loose rocks underfoot. Perfect projectiles for accidentally taking out an unwitting hiking buddy below you.
Every step of the way felt incredibly exposed. The occasional rock that did tumble serving as a reminder of how we would follow if not careful.
It didn't help I was tackling it one-handed as my other hand was holding a 3 meter long pole with a 360 camera perched on the top.
One slip and I'd probably smash the camera to bits on the rocks. I was also concerned for my own safety, just to be clear.
As you near the top, the gully widens and you need both hands as you squeeze up through a narrow crack in the rough rock.
In the end we all made it safely to the top, albeit somewhat sweaty palmed.
Not a single scratch or knock to the 360 camera either.
Walk NI has a handy walking map, starting at Carrick Little car park, here.
From the top it was a relaxed 4km hike via Hare's gap back to Meelmore Lodge for a sausage roll.
On the way back I discovered that the waterproofing on my socks didn't apply if I waded through a 2ft deep river instead of jumping across like everyone else.
Still as I squelch squelched the final mile back to the lodge I couldn't help but smile. It had been a good day in the Kingdom of Mourne.
VIDEO: THE DEVIL’S COACH ROAD + 360° VR
Before you watch Stephen’s two videos, make sure to register for our free email newsletter here (opens in separate window) - we’ll notify you when we launch adventures like this, local giveaways plus other ideas for things to see and do in Northern Ireland
And then the VR video. This should open in your YouTube app, to give the full 360° experience on your phone >>>
Thanks for reading,
GUEST ADVENTURER BIO:
Filmmaker based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, who loves the outdoors. Stephen owns Grafters Media, a boutique advertising studio specialising in video for online. He also has a YouTube channel with videos on everything from running up mountains to filmmaking tutorials to launching pineapples with rockets.
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