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Belfast Telegraph archives: The Mourne Walk

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The downhill run, with only two miles to go. 7/6/1982

The downhill run, with only two miles to go. 7/6/1982

The downhill run, with only two miles to go.  7/6/1982

The downhill run, with only two miles to go. 7/6/1982

Arthur Young puts on a bandage to support his knee as he and friend Roy Suiter, both from Stranmillis Road area of Belfast take a well earned break.   5/6/1983

Arthur Young puts on a bandage to support his knee as he and friend Roy Suiter, both from Stranmillis Road area of Belfast take a well earned break. 5/6/1983

John McGonigle, from Dundrum, on his first Mourne Wall Walk, couldn't wait to let air at his aching feet after completing the course.   7/6/1981

John McGonigle, from Dundrum, on his first Mourne Wall Walk, couldn't wait to let air at his aching feet after completing the course. 7/6/1981

The 21st Mourne Wall Walk, organised by the Youth Hostel Association attracted 2,000 enthusiasts of which 1,515 people were given certificates. And there was an extra certificate for another participant - a dog, pictured.   5/6/1977

The 21st Mourne Wall Walk, organised by the Youth Hostel Association attracted 2,000 enthusiasts of which 1,515 people were given certificates. And there was an extra certificate for another participant - a dog, pictured. 5/6/1977

Some of the walkers who trekked over the Mournes and finished at the Silent Valley, a distance of 22 miles.  They are pictures passing the Dunnywater Point outside Annalong.   30/5/1966

Some of the walkers who trekked over the Mournes and finished at the Silent Valley, a distance of 22 miles. They are pictures passing the Dunnywater Point outside Annalong. 30/5/1966

Mourne Wall Walk. May Murphy, from Kilkeel, takes a break for a cup of tea during the walk, while her brother Gerard checks their position on the map.   7/6/1982

Mourne Wall Walk. May Murphy, from Kilkeel, takes a break for a cup of tea during the walk, while her brother Gerard checks their position on the map. 7/6/1982

Mourne Wall Walk.Stepping out in determined fashion is Newtownards man Tom Smith with his Golden Retriever Bonnie.  7/6/1982

Mourne Wall Walk.Stepping out in determined fashion is Newtownards man Tom Smith with his Golden Retriever Bonnie. 7/6/1982

Mourne Wall Walk.  a Party of competitors in the 'Mourne Walk' leave Little Bignian behind as they negotiate the last few miles of the 22-mile walk.  7/6/1965

Mourne Wall Walk. a Party of competitors in the 'Mourne Walk' leave Little Bignian behind as they negotiate the last few miles of the 22-mile walk. 7/6/1965

Mourne Wall Walk.  Competitors recieve refreshments and take a break during the grueling 22-mile trek.   2/6/1974.

Mourne Wall Walk. Competitors recieve refreshments and take a break during the grueling 22-mile trek. 2/6/1974.

Co Down towns and villages Downpatrick - Bridge Street, 16 November 1967

Co Down towns and villages Downpatrick - Bridge Street, 16 November 1967

Saintfield - 3 February 1964

Saintfield - 3 February 1964

Hillsborough - Aerial View, 28 May 1949

Hillsborough - Aerial View, 28 May 1949

Hillsborough - Old Castle, 1937

Hillsborough - Old Castle, 1937

Groomsport - Main Street, 2 April 1959

Groomsport - Main Street, 2 April 1959

Groomsport - Harbour, 8 January 1959

Groomsport - Harbour, 8 January 1959

Groomsport - Caravans, 31 July 1961

Groomsport - Caravans, 31 July 1961

Groomsport - 28 May 1958

Groomsport - 28 May 1958

Donaghadee - Millisle Rd, Railway, 31 January 1928

Donaghadee - Millisle Rd, Railway, 31 January 1928

Donaghadee - 25 October 1933

Donaghadee - 25 October 1933

Donaghadee - 6 October 1959

Donaghadee - 6 October 1959

Donaghadee - 6 October 1959

Donaghadee - 6 October 1959

Donaghadee - 6 October 1959

Donaghadee - 6 October 1959

Holywood - Priory Corner, 13 April 1961

Holywood - Priory Corner, 13 April 1961

Holywood - Electric Station, 25 February 1930

Holywood - Electric Station, 25 February 1930

Holywood - The Priory, 6 December 1930

Holywood - The Priory, 6 December 1930

Cultra - Cultra Manor, 14 January 1958

Cultra - Cultra Manor, 14 January 1958

Cultra - Cultra Manor, 6 March 1961

Cultra - Cultra Manor, 6 March 1961

Ballynahinch - date unknown, probably 1940s

Ballynahinch - date unknown, probably 1940s

Cultra - Cultra Avenue, 27 May 1954

Cultra - Cultra Avenue, 27 May 1954

Cultra - Royal North of Ireland YC, 20 May 1965

Cultra - Royal North of Ireland YC, 20 May 1965

Bangor, 6 October 1959

Bangor, 6 October 1959

Bangor - 6 October 1959

Bangor - 6 October 1959

Bangor - from ladies bathing place, date unknown

Bangor - from ladies bathing place, date unknown

Bangor from Pickie Pool 19 March 1959

Bangor from Pickie Pool 19 March 1959

Bangor - 6 October 1959

Bangor - 6 October 1959

Bangor - Royal Ulster Yacht Club, 1920

Bangor - Royal Ulster Yacht Club, 1920

Bangor - 6 October 1959

Bangor - 6 October 1959

Bangor - Pickie Pool, date unknown

Bangor - Pickie Pool, date unknown

Bangor - Princeton Road, date unknown

Bangor - Princeton Road, date unknown

Banbridge - 1950s

Banbridge - 1950s

Banbridge - Technical College, 3 May 1927

Banbridge - Technical College, 3 May 1927

Banbridge - 4 May 1962

Banbridge - 4 May 1962

Banbridge - Town Hall, 1 December 1960

Banbridge - Town Hall, 1 December 1960

Banbridge - Main St, 1 December 1960

Banbridge - Main St, 1 December 1960

Ardglass - date unknown

Ardglass - date unknown

Ardglass - 28 August 1937

Ardglass - 28 August 1937

Ardglass - 1930s

Ardglass - 1930s

Ardglass - Fish Barrels, 1930s

Ardglass - Fish Barrels, 1930s

Ardglass - Fishing Boat coming in, date unknown

Ardglass - Fishing Boat coming in, date unknown

Ardglass - Gulls, 29 July 1961

Ardglass - Gulls, 29 July 1961

Ardglass - Fishing Boat, 8 December 1955

Ardglass - Fishing Boat, 8 December 1955

Ardglass - 28 July 1948

Ardglass - 28 July 1948

The downhill run, with only two miles to go. 7/6/1982

In 1922, work was finally completed on an eight feet high granite wall that encircled the heart of the Mourne Mountains in Co Down.





The impressive structure stretched 22 miles around the mountain range and crossed the summits of 12 of its peaks. The intention of the Belfast Water Commissioners who ordered its construction was to define the catchment area for the newly created Silent Valley Reservoir, but they could hardly have realised that it would be put to an altogether different purpose some 35 years after its completion.

In 1956 the Youth Hostel Association of Northern Ireland began the tradition of the annual Mourne Wall Walk, in which participants would walk the entire length of the wall, ascending a total height of 10,000 feet, within the space of a single day.

A hardy handful of walkers took part in the first event, but word about the challenging trek soon spread and by 1960 there were almost 150 participants - including "at least a dozen girls" - attempting the feat. Within two years the entry had increased to 250 and in 1967 a field of more than 500 assembled for the 10th anniversary walk.

Numbers increased practically every year, and by the time of the 21st Mourne Wall Walk on June 6, 1977, there were almost 2,000 ramblers taking part.

Of course, not everyone who started out on the walk actually finished it, and in that respect the 1977 walk was no different to any other year. The event was held in typical June weather - strong winds and driving rain - and the adverse conditions meant that around a fifth of the entrants failed to finish the course. One woman participant suffered a fractured arm and had to be airlifted off the mountains by helicopter, along with six others who were suffering from severe exhaustion.

At the end of the trek, a total of 1,512 people were awarded certificates for completing the course, and there was even an extra certificate for a dog who went the full distance. The first man home was 30-year-old Comber joiner Jim Hayes, who knocked five minutes off the record by completing the 22-mile course in four hours, 11 minutes, and 30 seconds. Most of the walkers took things at a less frantic pace, however, and completed the distance in 10-12 hours.

As numbers taking part in the event continued to increase with each passing year - 3,000 took part in the 1979 walk - serious concerns began to be voiced about the damage being done to the fragile Mourne environment by the concentrated pounding of thousands of hikers' boots on a single day.

Eventually, in the face of growing opposition from environmental and special interest groups, the Youth Hostel Association cancelled the walk scheduled to take place in 1984, and the event has not been held since.

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