After a terrible week of sleepless nights, I felt anxious, down and unsure of the future, due to the realisation that I wouldn’t be working again this year due to the Coronavirus that had hit us this year. What could you do to send these terrible feelings away? I thought it would be an excellent time to go for an adventure.
Can you have an adventure in your town or city? When you live in one place for long enough you get too caught up with life, it is hard to find anything new or anything exciting in the place you live. I am guilty of not going on many local adventures as they don’t excite me as much, it doesn’t feel like a proper adventure. COVID made travel harder and exploring foreign lands had come to a temporary end, so it was time to find a new adventure kick to keep myself stimulated. Once you narrow down where you can go, you suddenly find adventures and opportunities you never knew existed in your city.
I never knew Dublin had mountains and walking trails around the city. During the covid period, I discovered new paths and admired the city from a different view. I was very excited when I read about The Dublin Mountain Way. The Dublin Mountain Way is 26 miles (42km) long and runs from Shankill in the East to Tallaght in the West. Online hiking guides recommended to split the walk up over three days, but I felt they were exaggerating, I have walked 26 miles loads of times how hard could it be?
As summer turned into Autumn, the bright green leaves turned brown and started to fall. I overdressed and put my winter gear on like I was about to walk into the arctic. Gravel and mud below my feet, the blue sky above and peace within I set off through the mountains. The walk helps you feel and see everything, every stream, crevice, bend in the mountain backdrop looks different as the sun moves across the sky. When reaching the top of one of the many peaks, I looked over the busy city below feeling so satisfied, like I was so much freer than the busy working people below me, all of them in their shirts and ties selling some more of their lives.
I feel adventure therapy is the best remedy for suffering from the blues. Whenever I feel down, anxious, angry, uncertain or depressed I find somewhere I have never been before and go and explore. Endurance adventures like walking or cycling have nothing to do with how fit I am. The journeys are not as much physical as they are mental. You have time to think everything out, time alone with yourself in an area that feels unknown to explore, discover and learn, which can only be a good thing. The mix between the fresh Autumn air, adventure, exercise and the feeling of freedom are the key ingredients to feeling better about whatever insignificant problems that are getting me down. Adventure in any form is the best feeling in the world and makes you feel happier and help you recover from the day to day roller coaster that we call life.
The Dublin Mountain Way goes past several prehistoric monuments sites on Balledmonduff, Two Rock and Tibradden Mountains, all prehistoric burial sites. There are also several places of scientific interest such as The Scalp. The Scalp is a narrow glacial valley formed approximately 12,000 years ago during the last Ice Age that covered the Irish Sea extending inland over the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains. As the ice melted, several glacial lakes were formed.
I have never been great with navigation it doesn’t matter how well the route is signposted I will still get lost and this walk was no different. As I went off the very well signposted path, I found a forest named Fairy Village. Fairy folklore is spread throughout the island however someone seemed to take the whole folk tale thing a tad seriously, as they had built miniature fairy houses, flags, ladders, equipment, camps and doors stuck to trees. As I toddled along, I struggled with keeping my body at the perfect temperature, regularly taking layers off when I was too hot and then putting them back on when quickly becoming too cold.
The walk went through so many different landscapes, at times I didn’t feel I was in the same county, even though I was a stone throw from Dublin city centre. This route is so underrated and up till recently I never really knew it existed. I travelled high and low over Glencullen, Ballyedmonduff, Three Rock, Two Rock, Tibadden Mountain and Fairy Mountain. The elevation was far higher than I was expecting, I suppose the word “Mountain” in the title “Dublin Mountain Way” should have been a big hint.
I only had 10 miles to go and I wanted and should have given up. My muscles in my legs were screaming at me to stop. My knee was injured and I was in agony, this was not just ‘I’ve done too much exercise’ pain but much worse. But what does my body know, eh? As I stupidly ignored my body, I pushed on passing the Bohernabreena Reservoir, a man-made lake on the edge of a forest with the views of the highest peaks that I had already conquered only a few hours beforehand.
I ended such a wonderful stunning walk in an entirely different kind of landscape, Tallaght. If Shameless was filmed in Ireland, Tallaght would have been the setting, a residential area on the outskirts of Dublin. Tallaght might not be the best place to end such a stunning walk however, the anti-climatic ending was made better by the sense of achievement. The warm bubbling feeling of accomplishment was fizzing in my blood and it felt magnificent as I retraced my long journey over a map with a feeling of pride. The taste of victory was satisfying even though I knew it was sweat. The walk was exactly what I needed to get over my COVID blues.
I feel I might have an unhealthy habit of thinking I can do things that I clearly can’t and underestimate challenges. 26 miles easy right? I later sat outside with a few cans of beer (the Covid way to socialise in Ireland) and a good chat with a few friends for a couple of hours. As I started to leave to get my bus home, my muscles in my legs seized up and my knee was in agony, making it hard to walk, I had crippled myself. Maybe listening to the guides on the internet and splitting this route into three might have been the smart thing to do after all! For the next six weeks, my right knee was in agony. I didn’t help myself as I continued going on smaller treks and cycles to keep myself entertained through Covid because I am what most people call an idiot.