The highest peak in Northern Ireland is called Slieve Donard. I’m not sure it can truly be called a mountain at only 850m high; but it certainly is a commanding peak. However, this beautiful ‘mountain’ has one of my favourite stories from My Mountains Memoirs…..
Not long after we wed, Chris and I went to visit our friends L & A in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Knowing how much we love the mountains, L & A took us to the highest peak in Northern Ireland – Slieve Donard. Honestly, I had never heard of it before that day. But apparently it was a lovely walk and so off we hiked. Chris, L, A and their adorable dog – Elvis (I love this dog :-)).
Actually, Chris and I have rarely hiked a mountain with other friends, we usually find ourselves venturing off alone together, so it was a really nice change to hike with them.
The walk up was long, gradual and pretty beside the Glen River – through woodlands of pine, oak and birch.
As we were climbing, Chris noticed that L was having a hard time with her back and her back-pack: so being a gentleman, he offered to relieve her of her heavy burden. But L was not going to give up easily, and in fact was overly defensive. Putting it down to her niceties, Chris thought nothing more of it.
Once we were out into the moorland, the path became rockier and steeper – and noticeably greyer. There was no end in sight! Chris suggested we should turn around. Particularly with L’s back playing up. But L & A convinced us to keep going – perhaps the mist would clear! Perhaps it we would rise above the clouds once we got to the top!! And so we carried on. Despite the poor visibility and the ever chilling and biting wind, it still felt good to be going somewhere in the fresh air.
We finally hit what is known as the Mourne Wall which sits within a saddle that leads to the final summit of Slieve Donard. We could not see the summit. But there were peeks of wonderful views back down the mountain and across the Irish Sea. It is not often we get to climb a mountain with sea views! And so we settled to not climb the peak and took a breather.
L & A had got us this far, there was no reason to keep going to the clouded summit just to ‘bag it’ – we had got the view we had come for.
But then came the real surprise! L pulled out of her back pack a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne! She had carried it all the way to the top, knowing this was one of our favourite places to be (at the top of a mountain!) as our wedding present.
I cannot tell you how heart warmed I felt right then. Yes it was freezing cold and the view was less than perfect, and we hadn’t quite reached the true peak! But we were there with our friends and having a real good laugh – all those things we typically “seek” out of a mountain just simply didn’t matter. Friendship and love is all that mattered. Sounds cheesy, but this is what I remember the most.
Mountain Lesson #4: Your dearest friends will keep you going in spite of the fog of it all; they will cheer you on and help you see beyond the wall you face in front of you.
Mountain Lesson #5: Every so often you need to let your friends come with you on your journey up that mountain…living life with a wall around just the two of you is not always fun. Sometimes, there is unknown, unseen fun on the other side of that wall!!!
L has been a poorly bunny recently, so I just want to say to her – We are thinking of you my lovely and hope you feel much better soon. Big hugs and kisses XXXX
Read my previous Mountain Monday Memoirs blog posts…here….