Once upon a time there was a family of 5 who loved nothing more than getting outdoors to roam and explore and have fun together. With World Book Day just around the corner they had the great idea to take their storybooks for a little wander and have a walk under the moon in the wonderful Cregagh Glen in East Belfast.
Books and The Great Outdoors….they just seem to go together don’t they? There’s something about being outside that sparks imagination, wild and natural spaces seem purpose-built for stories and the forest especially is well-known for being an ideal location for fairytales and magical and courageous expeditions.
So, with our own 3 heroes kitted-out in snug, warm layers and each with a head-torch, off we boldly went into the woods for a magical, moonlit, mystery night walk for the first time. At first there was a lot of nervous chitter-chatter. The forest takes on a different persona by night and every sound is somehow more pronounced and eerie. I could feel the boys’ nervous energy flitting about in the air so tangibly. It was fun to see them walk huddled closely together, their talk keeping their fears from running astray. I led the way among the tall trees until we reached the first small bridge that crosses the river. Was there an ugly troll hiding underneath? We tiptoed silently across the bridge so as not to wake him from his slumber, excitement building as we journeyed deeper into the dark.
The moonlight overhead and our torchlight supplied plenty of visibility to clearly see the path so there was no danger of slipping into the river, thankfully. But beyond our sphere of light was deep and mysterious darkness. The boys pointed out glimmers of light, wondering if it was the glare of some wild beast. We played along, encouraging them to tread lightly in case the Big Bad Wolf was lurking among the trees and got hold of our scent. We ascended the wooden steps which rise up steeply to give a view of the waterfall halfway up the Glen. It was so great to see it at night in the silence of the forest. As we stood for a minute a few snowflakes gently fluttered down, landing quietly and adding an extra layer of enchantment to our magical walk. It was for a few moments like being in our very own fairytale.
We found a fallen tree trunk for the boys to stop and read their own books and take a few snapshots for their ‘extreme reading challenge’ at school. Afterwards we continued onwards until we came to a gate in the Lisnabreeny Hills that opens into a field which is open to the public and offers the best views over Belfast. The city lights far below were shining brightly and the sky overhead was filled with stars twinkling clearly. We stood in the silence and tried to pick out buildings and constellations before beginning our downward trek. Despite it being February, it wasn’t at all cold, it was still and peaceful and a perfect way to spend an evening together.
We trip-trapped, hand in hand, back across the little wooden bridge, being extra cautious not to stir the snoring troll from sleep. We switched-off our torches for the final stretch of path alongside the river back to the car and the real world. We drove home under a moonlit sky, happiness in our hearts, and lived happily ever after…