Despite not indulging the night before, I woke up on the morning of 1st January with a headache. They seem to be my default setting if I’m not taking care of myself. I didn’t want to get up early and I certainly didn’t feel like climbing a hill.
But, we’d made plans with friends so I had to.
We’ve always loved hill walking with friends, and we like it even more now we’ve got three kids in tow. Good company shortens a climb. More people to chat to, or sing songs with, or tell knock-knock jokes to, helps keep kids distracted and happy. Other kids to run ahead with or play games with or talk Top Trump cards with means parents are much less likely to endure the constant drone of “I’m tired,” “I don’t want to,” “My feet hurt,” “Carry me!”.
Making plans with friends also means you’re much less likely to make excuses and opt out.
So, to start our get outside every day in 2019 challenge in good company, we arranged with lovely friends to climb Conic Hill, Balmaha. And perhaps more importantly we arranged to have lunch at theirs afterwards and we all brought our own contribution. Food plans for a hike are nearly as important as well fitting boots!!
Now it was 8am New Year’s Morning, I had a headache and these plans meant I got up, muddled through the preparation, and 20 minutes into the walk, my head wasn’t bothering me at all. Fresh air, good company and a slow, steady walk are a real tonic.
With so many of us walking we had two cars and could leave one in Balmaha and one at Milton of Buchanan, so that we could do a circular route of the hill. That route means you have a quieter, more gentle (albeit longer) walk in to the hill and up around the back to the top. We met a few other walkers and cyclists but mostly we had the path and the views to ourselves. We meandered slowly, chatting in pairs and small groups, talking about our plans for the year ahead and the miles passed under our feet mostly unnoticed. The views however, didn’t go unnoticed.
At the top and on the steeper descent, the place was mobbed! Clearly lots of people had the same idea of starting 2019 outside, in nature and with a physical challenge. It was lovely seeing little kids, big kids, friends and families chatting and laughing as they climbed. The chatter at the top of the hill carried through the air, bringing with it the buzz of new year optimism, with only the occasional crying child. (Let’s admit it, kids don’t always love climbing hills.)
We stopped for a New Year toast with Babycham and some pasta to refuel for the descent but the January cold kept it brief and we were soon clambering back down. We chose the steeper descent which made for some interesting bottom shuffling at times! Most people descended by the regular path, which only requires the use of feet. The main path was fuller than we’d ever seen it but before we knew it we were back in Balmaha and civilisation and on our way to a nice warm meal to recharge.
A lovely start to our year and our #getoutside challenge and confirmation that, as we say in Ireland, “Giorraíonn beirt bóthar.” Company shortens the road.
If you’re in need of a little push out the door or if you’re a little daunted by the thought of climbing a hill alone, rope in some friends, make plans, find your tribe and #getoutside.