Castlerock, challenge, North Coast, Northern Ireland, photography, walking

Bellarena Challenge Walk  

Saturday 9th September 2017

Bellarena Challenge Walk – 12 miles

This year at the annual Castlerock Walkfest we decided to sign up for the Bellarena Challenge Walk – a 12 mile walk from Bellarena halt back to Castlerock. The irony of the challenge was that we were taking a 10 minute train journey to Bellarena to walk back to Castlerock which would take about 6 hours! The forecast wasn’t great, we had a sharp shower before we left Castlerock but we were optimistic that it would clear up as the day progressed.

Damp start @ St Aidan’s

So after our short train journey, dismounting at Bellarena, we began our ascent towards St Aidan’s church taking a very muddy track through Ballycarton Forest to the Nature Reserve at the base of the Binevenagh cliffs.

St Aidan’s Old Church

As we came out of the forest and the cliffs came in sight it was evident that visibility was not going to be great. However, after an initial scramble up a steep grassy slope, we were rewarded with our first views of Lough Foyle below. Following the forest trail we continued along the base of Binevenagh eventually reaching the Leighery & Bishops Roads.

Heading into the clouds
Rewarding Views
Wild Mushrooms
Binevenagh Harebell
Low cloud over Binevenagh
Ballycarton Forest Nature Reserve

As we passed Devil’s Hole we were blessed with some amazing views of Binevenagh, Lough Foyle, Magilligan & Inishowen as the rain clouds lifted and the visibility improved. Our halfway point, & welcome lunchbreak, was Gortmore viewing point – with Manannan Mac Lir watching over us!

Shades of Green
Gortmore Cliffs
Undulating Fields
Benone Beach Below
Beautiful Binevenagh
Manannan Mac Lir, Gortmore viewing point

The weather was holding up as we restarted and headed towards Eagles Hill, but unfortunately it wasn’t too long before another rain shower approached and the mist came down. However, despite this, spirits were high and we made our descent along the Bishops Road fuelled by a Jelly Baby or two!

Walkers on the horizon
Rain Clouds over Eagles Hill
Walkers in the mist
Crossing in Style
Walkers through the Fuchsias

Entering Downhill Forest we still had a couple of miles to go, but we eventually made our way back to the hall – slightly damp, bedraggled & a tad weary, but feeling happy at our achievement.

Homeward bound!

Great day, great route, great group of walkers & great sense of achievement – well done Walkfest 2017, a fantastic challenge walk!

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