I sat on a huge boulder overlooking Lough Shannagh while the others walked on towards Slieve Doan. For the first time in what felt like weeks I felt myself breathe really deeply. The day was atmospheric with clouds dappling the sky and only the gentlest of breezes. Not bad at all for a mid-October family hike in the Mourne Mountains. I felt slightly dizzy as the oxygen rushed through my body and I wondered for how long had I been dashing about on shallow breaths, trying to multitask like a ninja – being a working Mum is no mean feat is it?! I have been fully aware these past few weeks of a tension in my body, particularly my shoulders, as I endeavour to be all things to all people and somehow try to ‘do it all’ (why oh why do we do it to ourselves when we know better?!) – Mum, wife, sister, daughter, friend, colleague…all roles take I seriously and love to honour – but I am the queen of rarely saying no, and over time that can take its toll. My body and mind have been feeling so weary and as I sat for a few quiet moments I began to feel myself unwind and calmness wash over me. Just taking those few minutes to look across the beautifil landscape and inhale fresh air were so beneficial to me and I am amazed time and time again at the soothing effects of time spent in nature. It has for sure magical powers to reset the body, soul and mind and never fails to restore and put life into perspective!
This was our first time taking our 7-month old husky pup, Kai, into the mountains, so the remainder of the day was spent adventuring uphill with him! He is without doubt a strong boy by now and my back and shoulders can testify to having had a full-on workout on Sunday past. My husband and I took it in turns to walk him so while off-duty, I enjoyed some chat with my boys who are now well into the new school year and love to regale me with stories about their classmates and teachers – always guaranteed to bring on fits of laughter, which also has the most therapeutic effect on over-stimulated senses I find. There’s a reason the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’ exists!
The Mournes are also a joy to experience, with every hike, even if it is along a familiar route, always being well worth the early morning start and previous night’s preparations. We enjoy the trek to Doan several times a year because although small in statuture, it delivers on views and is never an over-crowded trail. On Sunday past we encountered maybe 5 or 6 other walkers so it really is a hike to consider if you like to feel immersed in the wilderness, far away from the stresses and demands of the day and daily.
We all made it to the summit, pup included, where we kicked back to enjoy the views for a while.
On the return trail, my 3 boys dashed on ahead, playing a game of spies amid the unusual landscape at the base of Doan – it’s an ideal spot for an embellished game of hide n’ seek. My husband and I finally had the chance to catch-up now that Kai’s energy was beginning to wane. He happily trotted alongside as we enjoyed the chance to have a good old natter about everything and nothing and set the world to rights once more! As we sauntered along, I was aware that my frazzled mind had become clear and calm throughout the day and I felt immensely grateful for yet another day of time well spent outdoors together.