The Paralympic flame has been lit at the summit of Northern Ireland's highest mountain.

A group of scouts and mountaineers trekked up Slieve Donard in the Mountains of Mourne to take part in the windswept ceremony.

The hardy troupe of volunteers, which was made up of non-disabled and disabled participants, was accompanied by police and mountain rescuers on their early morning hike.


Torchbearer Scott Moorhouse, a Paralympic javelin thrower stands with Camilla in London

The flame was placed in a miner's lantern to enable its transportation back down the mist-shrouded mountain in Co Down.

Similar events took place on the highest peaks in Scotland, Wales and England to mark the official countdown to the London Games next week.

The flame team began their arduous climb in the dark at exactly 6.14am.

The lantern will later travel to Belfast ahead of a programme of Paralympic themed events on Saturday, starting at Stormont in the morning with the lighting of a ceremonial cauldron and culminating with an open air evening festival at City Hall.

In between, mini flames will be taken to Ballymena, Cookstown, Carrickfergus, Londonderry, Lisburn, Newry and Strabane for their own celebration days.

After Saturday's events, the Northern Ireland flame will be united with the England, Scotland and Wales torches at the spiritual home of the Paralympics, Stoke Mandeville.

The flame will then begin a 24-hour, 92-mile journey to the Olympic Stadium in London with the help of 580 torchbearers.

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  • Swimmer Eleanor Simmonds was, at the age of 13, the youngest British athlete in Beijing

  • Cyclist Neil Fachie

  • Athlete Scott Moorhouse

  • Cyclist Jody Cundy

  • Powerlifter Zoe Newson lifts 60kg weights

  • Judo athletes Jonathan Drane and Marc Powell during a demonstration

  • Great Britain's Powerlifting team (left to right) Anthony Peddle, Jason Irving, Ali Jawad, Zoe Newson and Natalie Blake

  • Cyclists Aileen McGlynn and Helen Scott

  • Sailor Helena Lucas

  • Sailing team Hannah Stodel, Steven Thomas, Niki Birrell, Helena Lucas and front row (left-right) John Robertson and Alexandra Rickham

  • Runner Sally Brown

  • Archer Phil Bottomley (centre)

  • Basketball's Laurie Williams