Sometimes a very special event takes place. One that is so much more than you thought it would be. The Benbulben Mountain Hike was one of those experiences. I’m writing this at 3am, as you do, because the enormity of the night is still sinking in.
I was very anxious going along, not because of the climb but because I was going on my own. I’ve had a few experiences in the past where I’ve turned up to something and felt so out-of-place I’ve panicked and left. Thankfully I put a post on my Facebook page and a fellow photographer, Denise K, who I’ve never met but admire greatly, said she was coming along.
The moment I arrived at our meeting point I was immediately at ease. Barry, who is one of the guides at Northwest. Adventure Tours, was there with his smiling face and warm handshake. I also got chatting to Denise and shortly afterwards Feargus, who I already know, arrived so I was much more relaxed. We met our fellow walkers and headed up to Luke’s Bridge for the starting point for the walk.
First impressions were just how stunning the area around Luke’s Bridge is. I’m ashamed to say in my 26 years of living in Sligo that I’ve never been there. We gradually made our way up the mountain, I have to admit it was quite a struggle in places and I thought I was fairly fit – I’m not! I made lots of noises reminiscent of a dying animal, I also made a lot of complaining noises. I was sick of listening to myself and I’m quite surprised one of my fellow walkers didn’t push me off the mountain!
Feargus gave me his walking pole to use, bless him. He also carried my bag and Barry carried my camera. I had all good intentions of taking thousands of photos but I hardly took any at all. I was just concentrating on remembering to breathe!
Barry was telling us some of the history of the mountain as we walked. I love the sound of the Fairy Door which we saw on our way up. I’m not going to tell you the rest of the stories because it’ll spoil it if you go on the hike yourself.
As we got to the summit the moon was visible and the sun was setting. We looked over the edges of the mountain, not too close for obvious reasons, it really was something else looking down.
We made our way back down Benbulben with our head-torches on, under the light of the moon and a sky full of stars. Totally, truly, magical. Not only was the walk amazing but to start our adventure as strangers and to leave as friends was fantastic. A very positive experience and one I feel blessed to have been part of.
I think I’d do it again – it’s a bit like childbirth! It bloody hurts but it’s worth it and you kind of forget how bad it is afterwards. I wouldn’t walk it without a guide though, there are a lot of holes, it’s steep and it’s very boggy in places. So boggy that I seemed to have got half of Benbulben in my shoe!
Thanks to my companions for the evening and of course to Barry and North West Adventure Tours. You can check them out here.