HIKING WITH KIDS – THE MOURNE MOUNTAINS – TOLLYMORE FOREST

IT’S A VERY WET SUNDAY MORNING AND OUR PLANS FOR A FULL DAY OF HIKING IN THE MOURNES FALL BY THE WAYSIDE.

We decide instead to go to Tollymore Forest where the trees would offer some protection from the rain and the boys would still get the opportunity to break-in their new hiking boots.

We leave Belfast and drive to Newcastle in County Down in time to eat our picnic lunch before setting off on the 9km mountain trail. The route takes us through beautiful wild forest and alongside the River Shimna. The track ascends upwards and although not challenging like mountain terrain, at an energetic pace it’s still a rewarding hike which takes in some beautiful views.

We are fortunate that the rain turns to a light drizzle before easing off completely, and as the clouds part and the blue sky peeks through we warm-up and begin to explore off the beaten track.

I’ve been coming to Tollymore Forest since I was a child, and have many happy memories of running about here with my siblings, yet it always surprises me.

The landscape of tall trees, ferns and the trail alongside the river are forever changing and every time I visit I am stunned by its beauty.

As we move into Autumn the ground is dotted with acorns and the first fallen leaves. The recent rain means the ground is like a soft carpet underfoot.

Tollymore has such a tranquil atmosphere and after a week of kids starting back to school and the busyness that comes with that it is so good to shake off the stress and enjoy some space to breathe and connect with one another while being immersed in such a beautiful natural environment.

The new boots get a good first run as we cross streams and explore among the trees. We arrive back at the car park tired but satisfied and ready for a coffee. The kids run off to play hide and seek in the super play area next to the car park while we kick back with a cuppa and enjoy the view up to The Drinns.

The weather has been kind to us and as we relax and chat, the laughter from the boys games travel through the breeze and my heart flips with gladness for a Sunday well spent.

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