Hill trekker has an excellent location on the Promenade in Newcastle, close to the entrance to Donard Park. Its pleasant site overlooks the sea, the evocative name suiting its location at the foot of the Mournes.
The modern shop-front has an attractive window display, and inside, the shop is bright, compact and bijou, with a range of outdoor clothing and equipment.
As is often the case, the careful browser who looks beyond the boots, base layers and bivouac tents is rewarded with items such as spring-loaded cams, chocks and magnesium carbonate.
Hill Trekker was established in 1978 by a group of hill-walking and climbing friends.
Today, John Brown, with years of expertise, is the owner. This small shop plays a very important role locally, being the only outdoor and mountaineering shop within a wide area. It cannot compete in terms of stock with the large Belfast shops, but John, with his wide experience of walking and climbing in Europe, Asia and beyond can give invaluable advice in a relaxed manner.
The shop, which is open every day, is supported by regular customers and visitors to the area. Regulars include local outdoor centres and walking groups, whereas tourists come from all over Ireland and further afield.
John’s skill as a raconteur is a welcome bonus, as it is always helpful when planning a route or a climb to draw on knowledge of the area.
The name is eye catching, conjuring up images of far-off places. With many levels of interest, from walking to fell-running to climbing, Hill Trekker caters for young and old.
John says fewer people now do rock climbing in the Mournes, as they tend to use climbing walls, but an increasing number of young people are taking up walking and climbing. For many visitors to the town, it can be a question of a stroll, popping into a pub or café, or perhaps the amusements, a glance or two at Slieve Donard and home.
How many realise that Hill Trekker can supply the clothing, footwear and equipment for mountaineering? Probably only a few know their carabiners from their belay devices.
John advises on the use of rock-climbing equipment and has supplied expeditions, including one to Peru. When looking around, it is always a source of wonder as to where that head torch, those climbing shoes, or that lightweight tent might end up.
Perhaps when standing in Donard Park considering an impromptu long walk, some of us could pop round the corner for a map and compass or a pair of walking poles.
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