Sometimes you really have to wake up and grab the day by the shoulders and give it a damn good shake. Saturday was one of those days, a day to be used to the max, to have an adventure and to be content, proud and a bit sore in the evening. We decided to walk the new Boundary Trail at Castle Ward (Co. Down).
We had been to the same National Trust site the Saturday before and taken Toby on his biggest walk yet - a whole 3-ish miles. Remember he's only little and he met other dogs and was attacked by one off lead (grrr) so it was a huge experience for him. (He was ok - Andrew lifted him high and I grabbed the dog by the collar, it was strong!) However that walk also included a picnic at The Temple which he loved. He was pretty wrecked after that walk but came round really fast.
So.. Saturday last, well we pushed further, a heck of a lot further. Twice as far and a bit more, that kinda further. Toby walked with us for 7+ miles, what a trooper.
The Boundary Trail is lovely, a genuine surprise in its glory and varied landscapes. We didn't start down at the proper place as we parked in the main car park. So we started off with a walk we do often, down through the farm yard, along by the millpond flat Strangford Lough, up past Audley's Castle round the back of the walled garden. These are all Game of Thrones filming locations and is not rare to see fans and tours about.
Then we took a right turn instead of a left! Wonderful, we ended up in the farmland of rolling drumlins, the old estate boundary wall by our side and stunning views. (But I forgot to take any photos - I'm a wally I know!) There weren't any cattle about so Toby wasn't a threat and the new paths and fields are separated by electric fencing. Plus our dog was on a fecking lead!
After a good while we walked into a lovely little forest. The Mallard Plantation, the name of which doesn't make sense until the end where one sees the water and hears the ducks. This was maybe my favourite part of the walk, after all the gravel paths we were now on soft ground in amongst the trees and ferns with light streaming in strongly only here and there.
After a spell on a proper road we re-entered more woodland, much more open and newly cleared for the path. By now we were really in our stride and not many photos were taken at all. Andrew had to declare tea time as I get a bit forgetful and just plod on for miles, forgetting to take a break, eat, drink, breathe. Hiking is such a beautifully passive experience were all I think about is the trail, no bad thoughts, no hurtful emotions. But I do need to look after my body, so yay! for sensible Andrew.
Right pic below : the trees on the far ridge are were the other side of the boundary wall is, we walked quite far.
We sat on some logs, had lemon and ginger tea and a lemon cupcake. Haha, how fancy of us. Then we ate a fabulous trek bar each; they're like a meal packed with energy rich foods like prunes, nuts, chocolate etc. Toby had his kibble and a big drink.
Then up and away (all rubbish came with us) and 10 minutes on we came to the viewpoint. Wow! That was pretty darn beautiful but we couldn't stay longer, the sun was going down! And it was cold, brrr.
More of a gorse and bushes landscape now and we were walking fast. This whole place would be heaven in the spring, there were primrose and bulb leaves all around and of course we ended up back in deciduous forest which I so look forward to going back to with all the bright greens everywhere.
Here, near the end of the mystery trail we could see the grand driveway into the estate on the left and this sunset to our right.
Thank goodness for fairy lights and Santa visiting the big house. We could use these lights strung all the way along the fence to get back to the car park and see (and be seen by) the other people and cars on the road too.
Toby by this point gave up, he began to heave as though he would be sick and Andrew had to carry him. What a trooper, he's never walked so far in his life and almost made it the whole way! So proud, he wanted down again after a minute and was fine again. Boy did he sleep on the way home all evening and night and Sunday
I really wanted to take him to see Santa but it was pre-booked - human children only - bah humbug. Haha.
So that was that, sorry I posted a tiny draft version before. We all make mistakes and let's face it I was pooped when I tried to do that post on the Sunday.
Hugs and wishes for good health and thoughts of brighter, warmer days.
Happy Winter Solstice