By Phil Neill
The Mid-Ulster Mountaineers are a group of both experienced and novice hikers. We are a relatively new group, having recently become fully constituted. Our group began with two mates (Phil Neill and Mark Jameson) who started hiking together in early 2018. Through the many zany conversations they had in the hills (we’re sure most hikers can relate), they agreed they may have been slightly selfish in keeping these experiences to themselves.
Through the many people who they talked to about their times in the mountains, or those who followed them on social media with their tongue-in-cheek posts and suspect videos and photos, they realised that there is a common interest in the advancement of fitness, mental wellbeing, companionship and basically having great craic and taking in splendid views right at our back door.
They decided to open the doors to a few mates at first, then close associates. Soon after, random strangers were joining them and so, we, The Mid Ulster Mountaineers, were formed, constituted and ultimately obtained funding to provide training for our members.
Our mission statement is simple: To show others the benefits of hiking and hill walking, such as improvement of one’s physical and mental wellbeing, companionship, meeting new people and making new friends through shared experiences. We strive to do this through regular hill walking and social activities.
We also aim to promote the areas of outstanding natural beauty our country has to offer via social media and other promotion activities. We pride ourselves in setting achievable goals for our members. We set challenges with rewards such as achieving the coveted Mid Ulster Mountaineers bandana for climbing the Devil’s Coachroad, a gesture that gives our members a sense of belonging while encouraging some of our less-confident hikers to shake off their fears.
We train our members to partake in charity hikes, such as the Seven Summits. We will be taking this on in June independently in aid of the Southern Hospice. We never take ourselves too seriously and are known to put the world to rights in the mountains, especially towards those hikers who aren’t dressed for the occasion, wearing denim for one!
We consider ourselves a friendly, approachable bunch who really welcome newcomers (providing they are dressed for the occasion of course). In the long run, we are a collection of hallions who love the Mournes and all they have to offer. We never get tired of the views (or sometimes lack thereof). We call the Mournes our manor because we love it like our second home.
Our future objectives include coordinating a 12-month strategic plan which will ensure realistic and achievable goals. These will include mountain leadership training, navigation, first aid, and so on for our whole club. We want to set ourselves apart from those who just enjoy walking. Nothing whatsoever wrong with that, but the culture we have established expects that little bit more from our members. This ethos is actually carried out on hikes. We do one more peak, one more mile, one more hour, always striving, bettering ourselves, wanting a little more.
That’s our story.
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