We parked our car at the side of the road, half up on the footpath, by the new builds. Got our backpacks out and without any formalities, we started walking on the Dungonnell Way. Well, there was the obligatory selfie 💑.
The first official sign we came to was broken, laying in the long grass, just a wooden post. We lifted it, saw the arrows pointing the way and propped it up for the next people who may pass this way. Then we walked, up out of the village, past the farmsteads and to the hills where the sheep are kings and the roads barely used, save for the water board checking the most lovely little dam and the few fishermen who while away the afternoon there.
This countryside was beautiful with many birds singing, rabbits (one very dead), crickets (if you listened hard enough), butterflies and the hugest dragonflies I have ever seen. I guess I always thought dragonflies were the same as damselflies but no, these guys are on steroids and don't think twice about dive-bombing your head, haha. With such peace as this, walking through here it felt like each worry, each stress melted away with every footstep; my breathing became deeper (the air smelt so good) and my steady gravely sounding plod was music to my ears. All round was green, many shades and textures, this is where I was meant to be. I think it's where we all need to spend time.
Under the tree canopies here there is a whole world of moss, I love moss, I mean I LOVE MOSS. Don't question it, deal with it, I love moss, every kind, oh and mushrooms again every kind out in the wild. I couldn't eat one unless you paid me a ridiculous amount but I am compelled to study them and photograph them. Moss and fungi = happiness. It was in here we saw peat dams and dragonflies, cleggs (one b*stard got me 3 times on the leg) and blue damson flies, being super loved up!
The time flew by and then it was lunch. We stopped at a gate into the back of this much loved forest and set up our Trangia, using the stile as a seat. Fruity porridge was the dish of the day and it was SO good. Here was a damn good seat, any seat is good when you've walking 5 miles with a backpack though :) We met a friendly Mountain biker, had a chat and then he climbed over our stile bike on his shoulder and shot off, he was super impressed that we had come so far on foot and were only half way. As we were leaving runners swooshed by, arggh, they make me feel so unfit but then they have no backpack and we later saw where they had parked, half a mile away at the most.
We crossed the road and into a deforested area were we came across a urea storage unit; we aren't farmers but we know what urea is, and this, well this didn't make sense, why store it? Past that there was an incredible machine for cutting and limb stripping trees into logs - the accident book that the foreman must have would have some horrific injures I should imagine; I didn't really like being so close to it, even though it was off! Then around a corner and boom - a hill, a long one, but one step at a time and the view from the top was awesome (in the proper sense of the word).
A wee dander on and we were at another road side and a huge (for hikers) intersect of the International Appalachian Trial, Dungonnell Way and Ulster way. Plus there was a Pony trail here too and dog walkers with the happiest dogs ever - which made me miss Maggie but there was truly no way she could have walked this far, never mind that which was to come.
I took the lead walking along a busy, very curvy road (scary times) to get to next part of our walk, there's a handle on the back on my rucksack so Andrew could have used it to save me but using my noggin' I was OK. This was one of the most beautiful parts of the walk, I can't even begin to explain the emotion that this pathway through more trees, covered in moss and dappled light brought up. It felt like home in a spiritual sense, it was ophric and I realised that we as a people are so removed from this real nature that we don't even have words to express it, to describe it; it's gone from our vocabulary.
Suddenly there was an elderly man with his tiny but feisty little dogs, he did the country thing were you nod your head, lift a hand and mumble something like "great day isn't it". I love that, being out of society, sweaty, dirty and others like you don't care, they're just happy to see you, no matter your clothes, make-up, hair. You don't have to be anything but your authentic self.
The sunlight was falling down here in little beams where there gaps in the tree tops; how beautiful to see a fern or a new pine glow where that beam touched the ground. I could live in places like this revelling in the sense of wabi-sabi I spoke of before.
Then we hit the most quiet road in Ulster, Skerry East. Well contradictorily it was busy today, with many very disgruntled teenagers seemingly doing the Duke of Edinburgh with 70 litre back packs on and compasses swinging from their hangdog little necks. They were in misery and there we were laughing and smiling, two 'old people', crazy for actually liking this hiking lark; it made me smile harder.
Off to the left of this incredibly beautiful area we saw what we thought was a mine shaft wheel (the area was once mined for iron ore). So we took a detour and found this brought to us by those people at The Woodland Trust, a new little forest and this stunning sculpture.
The rest of the way went by so quickly and before we knew it, there we where back in Cargan, our car still there (thank goodness) awaiting us. It was 6.45pm, time to get these backpacks off and go in search of dinner!
*Speaking of which, my backpack was on it first ever outing, it's a turquoise 'Montane Women's Habu 22' and it's incredible* (This is my personal opinion, I'm not affiliated with any hiking company)
Hugs and Love