With 4 months of lockdown now behind us it was great to get back to the Mournes at the weekend with a small group of ladies for a gentle wander up Rocky Mountain and along the ridge to Pierce’s Castle. The weather forecast wasn’t promising in the least, with heavy rain forecast for the entirety of the day. But as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ weather, only the wrong clothes! So with waterproofs at the ready and coats zipped to the neck 5 of us headed off early for a morning’s adventure in the beautiful mountains – eager for some headspace and time spent in nature following the intensity of recent months.
From the get-go the chat was easy and laughter rung out as we made our way up the side of Rocky Mountain. Despite not knowing one another the conversation flowed so naturally, with everyone joining in, sharing stories, lessons from lockdown, family life, working from home and so on. I am always amazed at the ease with which chat comes during my Wild Wanders – somehow walking amid the purple heathers, mist descending as we ascend, green fields as far as the eye can see and no noise but the coo of birds and bleating of lambs; it seems to make us feel comfortable and lend itself to the conversation unfolding. I love listening to the tales, the different personalities shining, life experiences that inspire and words of support and encouragement that blossom between women who have met only an hour previously. It’s the reason why I love what I do so much – seeing new friendships forged and building a supportive community of women who love to explore is what Wild Women Events is all about at its core.
In typical Northern Ireland summer fashion the weather fluctuated between heavy showers, glimpses of blue sky, as well as gusts of wind and total calm. The group seemed to love every minute of it though, short-cuts were never mentioned even when the heavens opened. Hoods were flipped up while the chat continued and everyone marvelled at how the landscape can alter so rapidly and take on a whole new persona. It’s true – the once visible summit of Rocky was shrouded in cloud by the time we reached it but as we trekked on towards Pierce’s Castle and stopped every now and then to look back it appeared and disappeared as if playing hide n’ seek with us.
Lunch was enjoyed during a quiet, still spell – perched on some rocks we gathered round and refuelled, and for a while we enjoyed the silence and 360-degree views of wilderness before continuing along the trail to Pierce’s Castle. Being able to look from here back along the distance we had walked, the group were all in awe of how far they had travelled and feeling really proud of the accomplishment – it’s an exhilarating feeling to know you’ve pushed your boundaries and little and succeeded.
We followed the long, winding path back towards our starting point at Leitrim Lodge, by now the rain was falling heavily and persistently – no-one really seemed to pay much heed however! Tiredness and a sense of achievement had washed over us and we ducked into the forest for the final downward stretch to the carpark, the spongy floor amid the trees feeling like lush carpet underfoot. A hop across the river and a 5-minute stroll along the trail brought us to the carpark where final cups of tea were savoured, phone numbers and farewells exchanged and a wonderful day in the hills rounded-off.
We were all in agreement that the day had been brilliant fun, the company excellent, the craic mighty and we were all definitely feeling the benefit of time spent outdoors on our minds and bodies – space to breathe and think clearly, not having to worry about ‘to-do’ lists or demands on our time and energy, enjoying the beauty of the Mournes, making new friends and going home feeling revitalised and full of the joys of life! A blissful way to spend a Saturday.
If you like the sound of this you may also like Wild Women Challenges – 2 summer events aimed at women who want to hike a little bit further and higher. Visit the Wild Women Events Shop for further details and to buy tickets – hope to see you there!