Sunday, 27 January 2019

Ulster Way Hike - Ring of Gullion (pt 2)

Ulster Way Series - Carrie Gault 2019

Saturday 19th

In the car we hummed and ha-ed about the weather, it being rather cold but now raining on top of that, which we hadn't expected. It was time to pull into a garage and get a coffee in our new fancy Keep Cups and have a think...

"Well fortune favours the brave" said I, "who dares wins" said Andrew and on we went; the Ring of Gullion required a good conquering beneath our boots.

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Slieve Gullion - Carrie Gault 2019
Slieve Gullion from Jonesborough
Jonesborough, is where we started again (as with pt 1) parking in the village car park. It didn't take us long to get ready and start the hike, the weather here being lovely, cold yes but blue skies poking through.

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Moyry Castle - Carrie Gault 2019
Moyry Castle
It was a lovely narrow road walk surrounded by farms and great views to get to our first point of call; the 17th century Moyry Castle (fort). What a surprise and what a situation, up on a hill with commanding views all a round for miles on end. It defended 'The Gap of the North', the main direct north-south route in Eastern Ireland. Truly, it had so many gun loops.

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Sad forest  - Carrie Gault 2019
the best bit where I felt able to take my camera out
On again along lovely lush high sided lanes until we arrived at a battlefield; here all the trees had been cut down in a sweet bit of forest that looks so good on the map. Left behind was a mess of bog, holes and branches and brambles. We found it hard to get ourselves out the other side, thank goodness for the map app on Andrew's phone!

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Border - Carrie Gault 2019
the border!
I was glad to get back onto the little roads, crossing over the border and back I don't know how many times. At one point Andrew used his phone map and we watched ourselves cross the line on the map - it was denoted by nothing more than a bit of hedge on one side in real life. Lovely.

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Happy Collage - Carrie Gault 2019
* I have to keep reminding myself that I felt pretty good - all the beautiful little ruined farm steads, the views, the lush plants and now horses and donkeys! *

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Fungil - Carrie Gault 2019
Awesome fungi - wood ears and ?
Making me smile now was my most favourite part of the walk - a trail round a ruined house, past a friendly horse in his paddock, down to a river with another gorgeous old house and some awesome fungi, a hibernating ladybird and lots of coconut in the air - gorse. It was heavenly.

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Forkhill - Carrie Gault 2019

At other end and we found ourselves in Forkhill. Here we stopped for a small pint and some crisps in The Welcome Inn (which we discovered a little late was for members only). They were very nice though and on leaving they wished us luck with our mountains, haha.

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Donkeys - Carrie Gault 2019

On the walk out of Forkhill we came across one of the most joyous experiences ever - 14 donkeys in the one huge field. We stood there for some time just admiring them, then had to drag ourselves away and on along the main roadway.

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Little Donkey - Carrie Gault 2019

At a right turn onto a lane we met another donkey - more feisty and demanding attention; just gorgeous.

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Slieve Gullion- Carrie Gault 2019

Then we began our slow and agonising ascent up the side of Slieve Gullion (so many false summits!). That's when it all started to metaphorically down hill - the drizzle started. Soon it was heavy and we stopped to put away the camera and put on our coats; we had climbed up into a cloud. Soon came heavier water drops and we (still climbing upwards) had to stop again and put on our water proof trousers and for me, take off my glasses - they were useless.

Miserably wet and now in some difficulty with seeing at all we slowly but surely made our way to the Slieve Gullion Forest Park - yay! Here we found coffee and toilets and a hand dyer which I used almost everywhere but my hands!!

Ring of Gullion walk 2  Map - Carrie Gault 2019
Andrew did a map for us all - hugs Andrew x

It had been exhausting but after finishing our coffee it was only a mile to the bus stop. Back in the relative comfort to our car the heating was turned right up. We had done it (13.5 miles) and now it was time to go home and have a very warm shower.

Love and hugs

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Daily photo challenge round up (so far)

My darlings - I have not forgotten about you. I have been feeling very unwell and well, getting 600+ spam comments on the last two posts kind of got me down.

Recently I have been up to a whole load of nothing and I need to actually be doing stuff in order to get back into a rhythm with my blog again. Life has been testing me and it isn't going too well, apart from the odd hike (I have one from the weekend past which I still must share). I've been spending my days trying to read, sleeping and maybe doing a jigsaw - far from fulfilling and not worth talking to the world about! 

However I have been trying to take part in the Fat Mum Slim daily photo challenge most days. As I haven't been doing full weeks, I thought I would simply start of the year with some of my most liked ones so far, from week 1 through to today which would be week 3/4.

Day 1 - hello
Sweet little snowdrops poking through the leaf litter. Hello new year, thinking of spring already.

Day 2 - new.
My newest obsession is photographing fungi. I've always adored moss and looking at fungi but now I'm starting to collect them 🤓

Day 8 - quirky...
little ceramic heads up on some walls around the centre of Carlingford town. 

Day 10 - Toby playing in the forest. He loves to run fast between us and back again.

 Day 15 -paint 
My hand painted nails (I feel like the only girl who has real nails and paints them herself!) 

 Day 19 - fence
Your standard countryside fence in N. Ireland with a bit of sheep left behind on the barbed wire 🐑

Day 21 - nice
Little donkey, little donkey, you are truly awesome 😍😄

I shall get on to that latest hike (Ring of Gullion pt 2) now so as I can publish it before we do the third section! I hope you are all well, I must pop over to your blogs and catch up soon.

Carrie x

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!


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:) 

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