As part of the ongoing BARF Social calendar, the June event would see 12 Barfers make a 20 mile run from Dundrum Castle to The Castles on the Southside of Commedagh in the Mournes and return, taking in the stunning scenery of Murlough, hence ‘The Castle to Castles Challenge’.
At 10.30am we set off from Dundrum Castle in light rain conditions with The Mournes away in the distance shrouded in cloud. As we descended the first hill, the usual shouts from the back came, ‘are we there yet, and, where’s your BARF vest’!!! Thankfully there was no wind and the temperature was a pleasant 18 degrees to please all! After a trot around the harbour in Dundrum we made our way over the 3 Arches and into Murlough, turning right over the stile to move towards the Boardwalk at The 12 Arches. Skirting around Royal County Down golf course we descended onto the beach and plodded our way towards the Newcastle promenade reeling in the mountain section that lay ahead. Good progress was made for a quick pit stop in Donard park where tea/coffee and buns were served up and were well received.
Before anyone got too comfortable and tried to sneak into O’Hares for refreshments, we moved off again heading over Donard Bridge and The Cobbles to climb towards The Mushroom House, then to a small track linking us to The Ice House and Glen River path. Spirits were high as the cloud had cleared somewhat as we approached the base of the traditional steps route to the col, a route we would not be taking.
Excitement mounted as we veered off to scramble the gully on the west side of the steps, and just before we reached the top, Dawson showed us how easy it is to climb a wet stack of rocks, perching on the small top and calling out for us all to join him. We politely declined!
However, it was a great advert if anyone is contemplating buying slippy Salomons! The cloud closed in again with light rain as we pushed for the high point of The Castles, reaching it with very poor visibility, and unfortunately no great photos from here. We quickly ran on to gain the summit cairn of Commedagh in breezy wet conditions with the welcomed descent ahead of us to get moving and down into the warmer climate of sunny Newcastle.
Another quick pit-stop in Donard car park for yet more hot drinks and buns before we headed for the return leg along Dundrum Bay and via a section over the sand dunes. Our final approach took us around the Barmouth, when we had a few inquisitive seals to watch our progress around the point and over the 3 Arches again. With Dundrum Castle well insight again, we ran along the Dam road and gained height through the public pathways behind Dundrum Village arriving back safely at the Castle car park to remove our armour and rest our weary limbs.
A 20-mile trot with good company, great scenery, wildlife, a mixed-bag of tropical weather, and the traditional pizza bubbly and baking to reward our BARF ‘social’ day out. Come and join us at our next one, we look forward to seeing you.