The Wee Binnian Walkers was founded in 1987 and is based in the North Eastern border area of Newry Co Down and Dundalk Co Louth. There is no office and the club is run by a voluntary committee. Membership is open to anyone 18 yrs or over and since our foundation, it has been an embodiment of a cross-community, cross-border social group whose members share a love of hill walking. Currently we have in excess of 160 members from as far north as Antrim, south to Dublin and west as far as Tyrone, and all counties in between.
The club provides guided hill walks on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month, all year round. All walks start and finish at the same location. The walks are in the Mourne and Cooley Mountains and Sliabh Gullion. Four grades of walks are catered for each walking day, Grade A, B+,B and C. Newcomers are welcome to come and join us on our walks as ‘Casual Walkers’ and if they like what they see, are welcome to join the club for an annual subscription.
In addition to the Sunday walks the club also organises two weekends away each year to other parts of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England etc. The club makes annual contributions to the Mourne Mountain Rescue and to various other charities, North and South. For the past ten years the 32km/3246m Braveheart Challenge Walk has been organised from within the club in aid of The Children’s Hospice.
The Club has 48 trained leaders and a great emphasis is placed on safety. The club provides a training weekend every two years and regular first aid training for our leaders and an annual basic navigation course for interested members. The club provides Walk Leaders for other charities and local walking festivals. Our members also carry out repair work to the trails in the Cooley Mountains on an on-going basis.
We run our own successful Hill Walking Festival on the 2nd weekend in September each year, when we offer a variety of graded walks. Our popular ‘Blister Ball’ is the social highlight of the festival. Our annual Christmas Party is also a very popular event. The Wee Binnian Walkers is affiliated to the UFRC (Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs) and internationally to the IVV (Internationaler Volksportverband).
The club was founded in 1987 by Veronica McCann, a lifestyle tutor with the “Change of Heart” coronary prevention programme and began with 11 women and evolved in a very gradual way over the early years. Initially walkers paid £1 per walk to cover the expense of a paid walk leader. As a result of publicity from various initiatives and a pro-active recruiting strategy the attendance never fell below the initial 11 and by 1994 had grown to 60 plus.
By then new members with hill walking leadership skills had joined the ranks and were leading walks. With ever increasing membership, the group was formalised in 1994 for reasons of safety and risk management. Also in 1994, as part of the Newry 850 celebrations the first Wee Binnian Walking Festival took place and the success of this event established the club firmly on the national hill walking circuit. Veronica McCann is Honorary President of the club and an active hill walker.