It was 10 pm the night of the of the 29th of September, and I realized that tomorrow would be an off day. This was it. The perfect opportunity to hike up Cave Hill. I had planned to do this before even arriving in Belfast. I had asked multiple people about it including SCL staff, former scholars as well as locals a like. I had researched it online, and had the whole process figured out. Time to put it into action.
6:30 am, my alarm sounds and I decide to go through with going for the hike. Getting to the start of the hike would require me to take two buses to Belfast Castle. Bus transportation was something I hadn’t tried yet, and that morning showed my inexperience. After a short jog from the wrong bus stop to the correct one, and watching the correct bus go by as I stood on the wrong side of the road, I finally managed to make it on the correct buses and to my desired location beneath Belfast Castle.
I instantly began the hike on Cave Hill trail. The hike starts with about 10 minutes of walking through tree covered wood. Halfway through which I realized hiking by yourself in an area you are unfamiliar with may not have been the best or safest idea. However, luckily, I wasn’t greeted by unfriendly wildlife, and managed to stay on the right trail. After making your way through the trees at the beginning of the hike, the trail opens up into a green area directly below the start of the ascent.
Decision time comes for the hiker at this point: Take the steep route up Cave Hill or take the much easier trail around the mountain. My mind was telling me YEAH…. But my body, my body was telling me NOOO. In true male athlete fashion, I decided that I couldn’t set my pride aside, and took the steep route. A decision that about half way up, my legs and I soon regretted. After about 30 minutes in total and a few close calls later, I had reached the top of Cave Hill out of breath and sweaty to receive what was a view…. That was blocked by the ever so lovely Irish fog.
Despite not being able to see much of Belfast or the Irish landscape, it is safe to say that view was as breathtaking as the hike was. Because of the fog and dreading having to hike down, I decided to wait and walk around the top of the hill for a little while. A decision that I am so glad I made that day. Apparently, patience really is a virtue. After about an hour of exploring, I returned the main lookout point to find that the fog had completely left. Revealing the whole Belfast lough and city of Belfast. I can honestly say I have never seen a greener landscape in my life which made me appreciate the Irish rain for once. I was in complete amazement for the nearly 30 minutes I sat and looked.
I soon was reminded of how fortunate I am to be living here with all of this so close to me. Even more importantly, I was reminded of how blessed I was to have this opportunity and how I wanted to make the most out of every moment and day.
Next up on the list, SLIEVE DONARD, Northern Ireland’s tallest peak.