Belfast Telegraph

Stunning images: Portadown bricklayer going that extra mile to photograph Mournes

By Linda Stewart

Leslie Hanthorne will do anything for that elusive perfect shot of the Mourne Mountains.

And that includes leaving the house at 2am and climbing Northern Ireland's highest peaks in the dead of night so that he can capture the sunrise bathing the High Mournes.

The Portadown bricklayer (53) and father of six has a passion for photographing the Mournes and is there virtually every weekend, accompanied by his dog Buddy.

And the results are worth all the night-time hikes - with these heart-wrenchingly beautiful shots.

The images have now been compiled into a 2015 calendar by David Ellison at Printline Direct and this has gone on sale at shops across south Down.

Leslie explains: "I live in Portadown which is half an hour's drive from the mountains. The Mournes are almost beside me - every time I walk the dog I'm looking directly into the mountains.

"I walk up the mountain in the dark to be there in time for the sunrise. Or I walk up in time for sunset.

"Sometimes I don't even go to bed - I'd be leaving the house at 2am to get there in time."

Leslie only took up photography five years ago and his favourite subject is the Mournes, particularly captured in winter.

"Miles of winding paths, many of them old quarry tracks, lead high through the hills and make it possible to discover and enjoy their spectacular scenery," he says.

"My favourite time is winter because of the quality and clarity of the light.

"For a photographer, the winter of 2010/2011 was a very special year in the Mourne Mountains. It was the coldest winter for 100 years, and with lots of snow. I was able to capture images that I will find it hard to improve on.

"The Mourne Wall is six feet tall and in some cases the snow was higher than the wall."

Leslie admits it is a challenge to climb the mountains in the dead of night but insists he doesn't take any unnecessary risks. He phones home every hour to let his family know he is safe.

"I always have the route planned. Everyone knows where I'm going to go and what area I am going to be in," he says,.

"I don't do anything that is going to put me in danger. I know my limits and I work within them.

"I would never dream of going to the mountains, or indeed anywhere, without my faithful husky companion."

The calendar is on sale in a number of shops across Co Down as well as Belfast's Welcome Centre and more information is available at www.mournemountainphotography.com.

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