Thursday, 10 January 2019

Ulster Way Hike - Ring of Gullion (part 1)

Ulster Way - Ring of Gullion Jan 2019 - C. Gault 2019

We're onto a new section of the Ulster Way in the far side of Co. Armagh, on the border. Determined to crush the kilometres beneath our feet and conquer the Way this year!  Here's part 1 of the Ring of Gullion Way.

Ravensdale forest - C.Gault 2019

Ravensdale forest the path through the trees- C.Gault 2019
We arrived in Newry early and caught a bus to the beginning of our adventure and it wasn't a long walk to our first area of beauty -  Ravensdale forest. Here we climbed up through stunning mixed woodland and heard lots of birds and little waterfalls in the distance. Toby tried to pee on every tree, haha.

Ravensdale forest mushroom and finding a phone- C.Gault 2019
Taking the above photo of the mushroom, I found a phone laying in the mud and leaves. Luckily it had an app on it that helped the owner know where it was and only allowed a finder to ring the owner's chosen liaison person. I made Andrew do the ringing (photo) we arranged to give it back; it was so lucky they lived in Newry.

Beautiful views down through Ravensdale forest - C. Gault
We walked lovely narrow paths leading up the northern slopes of Clermont Carn were the wind whipped up from the sea through the trees and made us shivery. It is a beautiful area but oh my, the fly tipping!

It was a very steep descent down to a main road, patching up tarmac with concrete isn't the best practise. This road was on the border, not that you'd notice! After a short while we had to climb up again into the countryside  but before this could be attempted I had to have an emergency Cadbury's fudge break.

Countryside hiking and sloes galore - C. Gault 2019
Up here there were many ruined cottages, horses and cows, perfect photograph fodder. I remember loving the very old farmer gents in their equally old tractors up this way. The roadsides slowly got higher and higher in the old countryside fashion and again it suddenly got very cold.

Clontygora court tomb - perfect for lunch - C. Gault 2019
We planned to take our lunch break at Clontygora court tomb, a Neolithic picnic if you will. This time the cold stayed with us and we had nibbles and a sup inside the actual tomb.

Under Flagstaff viewpoint and donkeys! - C. Gault 2019
Slightly warmed up again we got back on the road and passed by Flagstaff viewpoint with wonderful views over the Newry canal and off into the harbour. Then came the highlight of the hike - 3 donkeys! They were gorgeous and Lordy did we take many a photo of them. They in turn wanted nose rubs and and were momentarily intrigued by Toby but then simply ignored him.

the twisty old lane way back to the car - C. Gault 2019
Down and down we went on small winding roads and over a railway, beside it on the left then over it again and walked for a good while on a grassy path to the right hand side. Oh, it turned into a beautiful narrow trail all the way back to the car, twisting and feeling so old.
Ring of Gullion pt 1 map and logo - C. Gault 2019
Back at the car we met the phone owner, a postman called Brain :) We quickly got ourselves unburdened of our backpacks and drove home, via some take out coffee - just so cold!

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You should know that I find these days mentally and physically exhausting, every single time I do them. BUT I am a huge advocate for ecotheraphy and encourage everyone (not just those who also have mental health problems) to be outside as much as possible.

How does it feel? To me, I generally feel nothing but my physical aches and tiredness. It's the memories that I capture with my camera that mean something. I observe when I see through the lens and I take those moments with me into the next few days, slowly building up a picture (no pun intended) of what I did and how it should have made me feel.

Conversely, not feeling at the time is a two sided coin - I am detached from reality to keep me from exploding with anxiety; but also I am receiving the healing balm of 'the space in between' each photo. Those quiet, detached moments that we all get are when I feel no anxiety, no depression, no self harming desires, no suicidal thoughts - it's just blissful nothingness. That my friends is worth all the sore feet, the confusion and the tiredness. Plus I get the photos and the kudos :)

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The First Day of 2019

 On Christmas Eve Andrew, Toby and I went for a walk around the boundary trail of Castle Ward, (the National Trust site). I was in so much pain with my hip and back that we had to cut it short but nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves and got rather muddy. Plus it made for a good appetite later on.

It was a great excuse to use our new Millican backpacks that Andrew bought in a flurry of infatuation a few weeks before Christmas.

You see, sometimes you need a backpack but don't want to take your sporty hiking one and then drag it around all day in and out of lovely cafes etc. Instead, why not have a gorgeous, long lasting, hand sewn, recycled bag of utter style and wonderfulness?
millican bag - C.Gault 2019

I have the Rust Smith Roll Pack 15 L with pockets (Andrew's is a 25 L smith Roll pack in Tarn) and they have a multitude of pockets, internal organisation to place special things and a secret laptop sleeve and even a chest strap and hip belt if you wanted to go up a mountain with it. But to me it is a truly stylish, going to cities and taking photos, writing notes and reading a book kind of bag - too pretty for messing about on hill sides.

Chilly's water bottle - C.Gault 2019

I also had my new 500 ml Chilly's water bottle (which I have used loads since I got it around the same time - it fits in most handbags too and I always need water on a trip out - dry mouth syndrome, from my medication). I LOVE this as it's reusable, it keeps my water hot for 12 hrs or cold for a whole day and yet the outer shell stays at room temperature the whole time = no condensation, plus it's totally leak proof :) They come in many colours and finishes and in 3 sizes - 260 ml, 500 ml and 750 ml.
The matte finish makes it so easy to open with cold be-gloved hands  and feels lovely to ungloved ones too:) 
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Then on New Years Day we did the same thing, only without Toby this time. It turned out to be a drier walk and unlike the first trip I was in the mood for taking some photographs.


Thus began my new-ish obsession with photographing fungi. I have always been drawn to moss and ferns but recently I'm taking more notice of the fun array of fungi we come across on our hikes so I am collecting them in photo form.



I'm hoping to walk more here, ideally once a month or every other month (we are still tackling the Ulster Way and wish to finish it this year). I'd love to document the place change over the months and take photos of my nature highlights. I hope you enjoy these from the 1st of January..

fungi and moss; Castle ward - C. Gault 2019

left - dark mushroom I have only ever seen in or near cow poop

right - look at those colours! the lichen in this area is beautiful too, the bracket fungus is very wiggly here :)

left - bulbs! I think they're snowdrops as I think I remember lots in this area before
right - just an idea of the beautiful pathways through the forests

bulbs and paths; Castle ward - C. Gault 2019
left - a single fern leaf and ivy (my faves too)
right - tiny wee mushrooms 'common inkcaps'? I must get a book on them

trees, fungi and moss; Castle ward - C. Gault 2019
Left - love this hedge of twisted trees, I look forward to see them change throughout the year
Right - bracket fungus and beautiful moss

trees, fungi and moss; Castle ward - C. Gault 2019
left - dead men's fingers fungi
right - gorgeous starry moss with thousands of water droplets :)
(Sorry - I don't know why my descriptions are playing up like this but I can't seem to fix it!! 😩)
Hugs and love

Thanks in sharing my first blog of the new year and hopefully this walk will become a lovely tradition
Carrie xx