100KM ISN’T THAT FAR, IS IT? – GUEST BLOG BY KATY MCMONAGLE

My first real memory of hiking is me sitting at the bottom of Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains crying because I hated every moment of it, and my Mum would tell you this was a regular occurrence when I was a child. I hated walking…and hiking…or anything to do with it really.

Fast forward 20 years and I absolutely love it! One of the best things about it for me is that I get to do a lot of walking with my Mum. For us, these are the best days out! We’ve travelled far and wide together in order to get our walking fix. We love being active together and it helps both our physical and mental health.

In 2018, we travelled to Spain to walk a 100km section of the Camino de Santiago which didn’t seem that far on paper but in reality 100km is a long way to go. Singing ‘it’s a long long way to Santiago’ was a regular feature of that trip!

I could not imagine having had this experience with anyone else. With blistered toes and tired legs we had so much craic on our 100km walk. We met so many amazing people and heard their stories.

From people who were walking for religious reasons to people who had lost a loved one and just needed the space. It was very inspiring. After arriving slightly dishevelled in Santiago we sat enjoying a beer and both decided we would be coming back the following year the next instalment. So, in 2019, we arrived on the Portuguese/Spanish border and over the next week we completed another 120km.

We are definitely hooked on long-distance walking and I feel it is a bit overlooked. ‘Peak-bagging’ is great but long-distance walking teaches a lot of endurance and stamina. It has taught me so much and I’ve realized through experience what I actually need to take with me in order to go away and walk 100km in a week. Once you have to carry everything, you soon realise what you actually need to bring and not just what you want to bring! It also affords me so much headspace because the only thing you need to worry about in the day is getting from point A to point B. We all live such busy lives and I think it’s really important to take some time-out for yourself. To have some quiet time and get a much-needed rest from daily life and I think we need it more now than ever.


“Don’t come to the Camino looking for answers. Instead, come with an open heart and you may be surprised by what you find’


Mum and I really love the feeling of accomplishment when we’ve walked for 8 or 9 hours in a day and of course we love the much-needed pint after 25km. I’m so proud of my Mum for taking the risk and coming with me on my walking adventures, because it would truly never have been the same without her.

Given the restrictions this year we unfortunately did not get abroad but we got to explore some amazing walks here in Northern Ireland as an alternative. We’ve walked many of the greenways and journeyed 15km from Murlough Bay to Newcastle.

For me, the outdoors means spending time with my Mum, something so simple…yet this year has been harder than ever as we do not live in the same household. We’ve met so many amazing and inspiring people on our long-distance walks and they make our experience even better. I could not imagine a better walking partner and my Mum may well be the wildest woman I know.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi, I’m Katy, a 28-year-old Archaeologist from County Down. I love everything to do with the outdoors! My hobbies include being active and enjoying the beautiful countryside, mountains and more.

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