Friday, 20 October 2017

101 miles of the Ulster Way

Ott Car Park - Rostrevor

We slept in which wasn't the best start, especially as Andrew had taken the day off work to do this. But such is life and we know our gear so well that it didn't take long to get out the door and on our way. It happened so quickly in fact, I hadn't time to feel nervous.

The Mourne Mountains are an hour away, a distance in which I get sleepy and cosy in my car seat. By the time we get to our starting point I'm not at all ready, mentally or physically - putting on that backpack and starting off is a struggle!
I'm into my stride by the time we've walked past Spelga dam, on the road. Then take a sharp left and down into the wilderness, into sheep territory and a fabulous bridge with a creepy skull! Welcome to Slievenamiskan.

It's slow progress around the base of Slievenamiskan and Hen Mountain, as in the Mournes proper paths are few and far between. The land here is bog and with people, rain and sheep it becomes a waterlogged mess. It's a shame as we hikers end up destroying the land we're here to appreciate by having to make many alternate roots.

The views were nice though - archaeo-hubby pointing out places of importance and horses in fields close by. The sheep were friendly enough and lead us round to the next big gravel path. Boy, this was a long uphill trudge that just seemed never ending and ever more windy. At the top I was wobbly and seeing spots!

Lucky there wasn't much more to go - just the Rowan Tree River to cross and then we hunkered down for lunch.
 With full tummys we went through true bog- as in we had to plot a course and run it! At the base of the coll we were able to take a drink of water and then, up, up, up tackling the rocky, boggy climb; sometimes losing the trail, but always going in the right direction. Getting the to top was a happy moment!

Getting down a big hill that's wet, slippery and mucky with rocks sticking up here and there is not easy but by gum, I did it (with many a helpful hand). Our phones changed to Irish roaming tariffs here - always a little novelty near the border. At last, at the bottom we could rest a moment and take off those gaiters (stinking, slimy things by now).

Then came the easy bit - lovely forest walks. Little birds singing, my usual 10 mile pains kicking in and the sweet bliss of ibuprofen. We walked on into the darkness and then a mile outside Rostrevor, booked a taxi. Celebrated passing the 100 mile mark of our journey with a high five and then had an all important energy boost - Cadbury fudge bars for the win!
We got to the finish in plenty of time :) It was dark (the almost black photo is Andrew, by the light of my head torch. I used the flash on the camera for the last photograph; it was here that the taxi picked us up and took us back to the start and our sweet car.

* Chips on the way home! And another 12miles crushed beneath our feet - yay 🤗

Carrie xxx

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Hiking the Ulster Way


We set ourselves a challenge this year of 2017 to walk the Ulster Way; at least all the quality sections (which are those not on main roads). For many years we have seen, as I am sure everyone who lives here sees, those innocuous little signs at the sides of roads all over the country and wondered where they went...we wonder (wander?) no longer....
As you know last year saw us somehow stumble into the world of hiking and we have been ensnared in its grip. Andrew has gone right down the outdoor life rabbit hole and loves to wild camp too; I'm a bit more sensible - I love good sturdy walls, a roof and a proper bed with an en-suite..

So way back in our training for the West Highland Way (or half of it if i'm honest) we started these nice long sections of paths, exploring our home. It worked well, as this was the year when we had planned to focus on the hard landscaping of the allotment and thus have more time at the weekends for a bit of both. (By the way - the allotment only has a few beetroots and leeks in it presently).

The ulster way map via -

The book above by Paddy Dillon is the only one on the topic and even it is 10 years out of date. All hail Mr Dillon though, I appreciate his efforts. The fantastic Walk NI is now the torch carrier of the way and their website is superb -

The story of our walks so far will be told in a backward way as I really want to celebrate the latest one we did on Thursday past - the one wherein we passed the 100 mile mark. The one which I am still aching from as I sit here on the following Saturday morning; there are muscles aching that I didn't know I had!

I hope you'll enjoy my photo filled stories to come !
Carrie xxx

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

like tears in the rain

Today marks the anniversary of Toby's adoption  - he's been with us a whole year!

I think it's also very apt that it's world mental awareness day for without this bundle of fur, this sock stealer, I have a feeling I wouldn't be here.

Right now he is in his daily daytime position - squished up against me and sleeping away (with one eye open, in case there are strangers outside). He knows I'm a mess - I haven't showered yet and talking is hard and playing is too energetic - yet he loves me anyway. Though to be fair, I'm the only one here and I do gave immeasurable amounts of hugs, kisses and scratches behind those ears. 
Toby loves life, lives it fully and with such enthusiasm but he also knows how to sleep, to rest hard. He never has shame in asking for attention and has no qualms about giving and receiving all the love. He lives in the now, forgives with grace and snores without shame!

He gets me up everyday when all I want is to hide under the duvet. I open the blinds for him to see out and I step into the world (briefly) a few times a day to make sure he, umm, toilets.

He's the glue that holds me together until Andrew comes home from work. And then the fun and giggles can really begin.


I'm just one of many many people out there whose thoughts are turned towards World Mental Health Day today. I sure as heck don't feel good today, but in honour of all those for whom even writing a blog post is just too much - please support those in need.

Be an ear that listens (no judgement!), a shoulder to cry on or a mate that just treats their ill friend just the same. All of which Toby does in his wonderful and unique way xxx