HIKING WITH A YOUNG FAMILY
HIKING WITH A YOUNG FAMILY
It’s the return of our Guest Adventures!
Each week, we’re sent and tagged in SO many brilliant photos, from your travels around Northern Ireland. While we try to feature as many locations as possible in our Fan Pic Friday features, there are a number of like-minded adventurers we’ve spotted along the way that we REALLY want you to know about.
Their photos and videos pop up each week, instantly making us want to stop what we’re doing… and go join them on an adventure. Some day we will!
But for now, we’ve invited them to takeover our channels, so you can read the stories behind the imagery and get a few more ideas on places to see and things to do in (or from) Northern Ireland.
We’ve loved seeing her photos on Instagram the past few months - and seeing the little’uns enjoying the outdoors as much as she is… we had to ask her to be a Guest Adventurer.
Chuffed that she said yes.
Hi, I’m Jen!
You’ll find my family and I exploring the Mourne Mountains in County Down most weekends.
My love for the mountains has always been in me - my Granny was a Mourne woman and always proud of where she came from. While I had never hiked before January 2018, as a child I remember frequently going for strolls in the Mourne valleys, taking in the sights and picking blackberries with Granny and family.
In 2017 I sustained a back injury and was advised to exercise to help the rehabilitation and recovery process. I started off slowly and then my husband introduced me to hiking and that was it... I was hooked! (He probably regrets it now as I have him tortured!
I never go far without my children so they joined the mountain adventure and boy what experiences we have had!
The thought of hiking with a 10 year old and 4 year old might sound daunting but as long as you’re well prepared it is so rewarding.
We usually pack our hiking bags the night before with plenty of spare clothes and layers to cover all potential weather! It’s important to check the forecast before any hike (we use the met office website as they do a specific forecast for the Mourne Mountains).
My main tip is ensure you have plenty of water, food and snacks for energy for the kids! We all have supportive hiking boots and I carry two walking poles in case little legs get tired!
When hiking with kids especially, make sure to plan your route- WalkNI has great routes and the app on mobiles “ViewRanger” is fantastic too.
Make sure to build yourself up - only tackle hikes you think you’re capable off. The more you hike and get used to the landscape, the more you’ll be able to take on.
Until about a month ago my 4 year old had never walked a step in the Mournes!
I use a soft structured baby wearing carrier which evenly distributed her weight across my back. It even has a wind shield for those windy summits! I’ve carried her generally (not up mountains!) since she was born, so she’s well used to it and finds it comforting.
Now she enjoys a little hiking and has walked to the top of Slieve Meelbeg, Doan and Hen in the Mournes - the sense of achievement for her is unreal! It’s so lovely to see. She still likes to hitch a ride back down to the car park on my back though!
Usually our go-to place to start hiking is Meelmore lodge or Donard Park car park depending on where we plan to hike on the day.
Meelmore lodge has fantastic facilities: free parking and toilets as well as easy access to Trassey track and into the heart of the Mournes. It also has camping facilities - fantastic for families - which we used last summer. Be sure to visit their cafe on your return from your hike to refuel as the food’s great!
The highlight of our hiking trips is definitely the memories we have made. The children have developed such a genuine love and respect for nature. From paddling in rivers to watching the newts, frogs and sheep…even exploring the granite tors of Slieve Binnian and Slieve Bearnagh.
So…‘gear up and get outdoors!’
Thanks for reading,
GUEST ADVENTURER BIO:
I’m Jen, from County Down and can usually be found in the Mourne Mountains in my spare time - taking photos and absorbing nature.
I’m currently training for the Mourne Seven Sevens Challenge Walk, which I’m completing on the 29th June 2019 for Alzheimer’s Society - to raise funds and awareness for the charity after losing my Granny and Uncle to the disease.
It’s a cause that’s very close to my heart - if you wanted to donate, I’d be very grateful. Simply click on the image below.
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