I have a truly wonderful walking experiences to share since my last blog while leading our weekly Green Exercise Walk beneath the foothills of my native Bluestack Mountains in County Donegal. I helped set up these walks along with the Family Resource Centre and my good friend Larry Masterson back in September 2009, with the wish to promote the preventative health benefits of social walking in the great outdoors. We have since completed 85 walks in a variety of landscapes from quiet back roads, country lanes, woodland paths and sandy beaches. Over 150 unique guest have taken part in at least one of our walks.
One of the most amazing facts about our walks, apart from the laughter, camaraderie, great chats and huge variety of walks is that we have recorded less that 7 wet outings, which surely must be some sort of record for the North West of Ireland! After a series of cloudy, wet, windy days, which have come to characterise our late summer this year, blue skies and warm sunshine were the order of the day.
24 walkers set off on a bus from Donegal Town to a pre-determined starting point, 6km north of Donegal Town. Our destination was O’Neills Pub in Letterbarrow, (please note; the outside picnic bench and not the licensed premises!) Our bus dropped the slower walkers, including myself, 1 km ahead of the faster group, wittily nicknamed ‘the greyhounds’.
The quiet back roads weaved through the landscape, following the contours of the hills. A new scene to delight the eye awaited around each corner. A traditional country cottage nestled snugly beneath a hillock, a hedge of tall blackthorn bushes teemed with deep red haw berries, while the distant Bluestack Mountains exuded an other worldly beauty in the soft September morning sunlight. I walked and talked for a while alongside a woman who has been a regular walker for the last year or so. During a pause in our conversation she turned to me and said, “you know Keith, we really don’t appreciate ourselves half enough.” All I could do was acknowledge this unexpected insight with a respectful nod and smile.
The Walking in Wonder continues…