Walk a little slower, Daddy
Chloe came home from playgroup with this piece of art many moons ago and it’s become a kind of mantra we try (and often fail) to stick to in the busyness of life. It was particularly hard to stick to last Thursday when it ended up being nearly one o’clock before we embarked on our much anticipated “Christmas holiday mountain adventure day”.
There were a number of reasons for this but the main one was, that in our post-Christmas slump, it was after 10pm on the Wednesday evening that we finally got round to checking the forecast and planning when we would do what before Ashley had to go back to work. Thursday’s forecast was awesome – a heavy frost followed by really light winds and no rain. Every subsequent day was either very windy, very wet or a combination of both, so we agreed we would get up early next morning, pack and head down to the Mournes.
After a later start than planned, a longer pack than planned (all our gear was in a heap under a bigger heap in the spare room as we were getting quite a lot of work done on the house in the run up to Christmas) and a pit stop to buy hiking boots for Harry that weren’t 2 sizes too small (how does that happen?) we began heading up the track as most people were coming down. It therefore took all my willpower not to shout “keep moving” every time Harry and Chloe stopped to poke about in the frozen puddles.
Once we got to the col, we decided not to push on to our original destination (the fantastic Doan Mountain) as there wouldn’t be enough time to scramble about on the top and it might be too icy anyway. Instead we headed up the closer Slieve Loughshannagh and were treated to these amazing views at the top.
We even managed a family pic courtesy of some fellow walkers:
The sun was beginning to dip behind the hills now, so we decided to head back down the way we came. Surprisingly, though, the Little Trekkers went way faster than we anticipated. (Harry had to be stopped from running down and to be truthful, I couldn’t keep up with Chloe on my gammy knees!) Rather than head down the track from the col, we decided to turn left and go up Carn Mountain, which was only very slightly higher than the col, then keep our height and top out on Ott. Usually, this would be a boggy, unpleasant walk through marsh and peat hags but because it was all frozen, it was great fun.
Ash spent some time trying to get atmospheric photos, but soon gave up as someone kept photobombing them!
Harry and Chloe were delighted with themselves completing 3 summits in one day and we were pleased to come down a different way than we went up. The views were amazing over Spelga Dam – it’s not often you see it without a ripple!
Despite things not going at all according to plan, I think we did manage to stick to our mantra and not rush the Little Trekkers along too much. We all had a brilliant day, we ended up getting loads done and my favourite moment might have been when a tired Chloe fell into step behind Ashley, right in his footsteps, reciting the poem!
We can’t wait to get back and conquer Doan, but it will keep for another day. As I sit listening to the wind and the rain, I am so glad we went when the weather was good, allowed the Little Trekkers to go at their own pace and stayed flexible with our plans. Harry and Chloe, however, were a bit disappointed not to need their headtorches to get off the mountain, despite my concerns. Perhaps we should add a night navigation to our to-do list for 2018? Have you any top tips for hiking with kids? We’d love to add them to our list.
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Ashley (Dad/ 3rd child/ chief photographer). Me - Kerry (Mum/ the sensible one... sometimes). Harry (8) can't sit still and Chloe (nearly 6, thinks she can do everything Harry can and makes pretty good attempts too). We spend as much time as possible having "adventures" (which consist of anything which takes place outside and is accompanied by official “adventure sweeties”).
Favourite place in the world:
Ashley and me - The Ards Peninsula, Strangford Lough, The Mourne Mountains . Harry – Alan’s farm, anywhere with mud, sand, bugs or tractors or that requires a paddle or harness to get to. Chloe - Anywhere as long as it's outside and preferably with somewhere to toast marshmallows and drink “North Pole” hot chocolate
Favourite things to do outdoors:
Biking, climbing, canoeing, digging holes on the beach, making dens (or anything out of sticks), looking for squirrels, butterflies, crabs and Gruffalos. Chloe loves to collect stones, but we try to discourage that as we invariably end up carrying the most precious ones home. She managed to stash about 20 in her bag on a recent weekend away in Ballycastle and cunningly talked Uncle Pancake into carrying her bag to the car so we wouldn’t find out until it was too late. She currently has a fairly large cairn in her bedroom! Harry has a model dairy farm complete with stone walls built from beach pebbles in his bedroom. Neither has much room left for sleeping.