Coronaboredom got the better of me. When you’re stuck indoors for 22 hours a day, it’s only natural that you’ll be getting the urge to go outdoors
This blog post too six weeks to write, let me explain.
Stuck indoors all day, you just want to get out. I was planning that I would only go to Cavehill once a year, but that went out the window when other travel options become unavailable, if I wanted to go somewhere, i’d have to explore Belfast a bit more.
Regular readers will know that this blog is mostly football matches and concerts, neither of which are happening. I hadn’t taken a photo of anything since I attended the Carrick Rangers v Linfield match in early March.
Early May saw a three day weekend, with the Bank Holiday being moved from the Monday by four days to the Friday for the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
That Friday, I got up early, and drove to the entrance at Innisfayle Park. It’s the way I know how to get in to Cavehill.
Unfortunately, the gate for cars was closed, you could still get in on foot though.
So, where do I park my car?
I could have parked safely on the street, but I was worried about falling foul of a busybody resident, even though most people would be safely tucked up in bed.
I didn’t take that chance, instead heading to North Circular Road and parking at a place when I catch a bus to football matches from there (Ahh, going to football matches, remember that?) and entering Cavehill via an entrance in Ballysillan.
I’m not sure where I ended up, but it was not somewhere I was familiar with, I ended up walking along Upper Hightown Road. It might not have been Cavehill, but it was one heck of a walk.
That day didn’t go to plan.
Two weeks later, I headed back for another early morning trek, parking in one of the bays at the Antrim Road entrance.
As I was entering at a different point, further away from where I usually enter, being timebound meant I couldn’t cover as much ground, only getting about halfway up before I had to go down.
Rejoice though, as it was announced that Belfast City Council would be reopening the car parks of their Country Parks from Wednesday 27th May.
To save myself a wasted car journey, I made that my cycle route on the Saturday after just to check it out, and it was indeed true. Open gate. Party time.
However, I wouldn’t be parking the bike and going for a walk, as it was a bit of an arduous cycle there, and a walk upwards would be too much. Just wait until the following Saturday for that.
The following Saturday, I headed over in the car. The weather, was not kind, dull sky and light rain. I was up, so I might as well go for a walk.
Thankfully, when the rain came down it was when I was in the well covered foresty bit, so I didn’t get too wet. It was cold, but a good cold, if that makes sense. The sort of cold air that makes you feel refreshed, if that makes sense.
As I approached the first gate, I decided to turn left instead of going forward towards McArt’s Fort, out of curiousity as i’d never been that way before.
There wasn’t really much, other than lots of cows. I think I saw more cows than people. Try again next week, hopefully have better luck.
Well, I did walk up to the top the following week, but the weather was crap. It was dull and didn’t make for good photos, so I didn’t bother taking any, which made for an empty experience.
I did take some photos during my visits in May, collating them into an album if you wish to view.
One week later, waking up and seeing the sun shine coming though my blinds, I jumped straight out to make the most of this opportunity.
The Car Park at Innisfayle Park at Cavehill usually opens at 7.30am, which is when I aim to be there for.
You may think being up and about on a day off at that time is madness, it probably is, but it’s worth it when you see the end results.
A bonus of this is that I can stop off at Tesco on Antrim Road to get some groceries as it’s off peak, something I can’t do during the week because i’m in the house until 5pm and all the supermarkets near me sell booze so there’s always a mile long queue outside when I get there.
Sooner the pubs open the better, so I can get some groceries. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
Where I live, I have a bit of a clear run to North Belfast, especially when the traffic is light, so I was able to arrive there at 7.45am, and had my choice of parking spaces as they were all empty, another benefit of arriving so early.
That turned out to be the case when I headed back to my car just before 10am, as every space was filled resulting in some people being creative with their parking, on grass banks and wherever they bloody well wanted to.
The sun was shining, which made for good photos.
What I wasn’t expecting, was that my path would be blocked. By cows. Yes, you read that right.
A group of cows were wandering about and blocking the path. That would have been a comical demise, getting attacked by a cow and falling down a hill.
Thankfully, I avoided such a fate, waiting for them to pass before moving on.
It’s quite the experience when a cow walks up to you, looks you in the eyes, and moos at you.
When I reached the top in February, I walked straight ahead, taking in Carnmoney Hills. This time, I turned left to have a look as i’d never been that way before.
There was some nice areas to shoot as well as somewhere if you want to have a short break and/or picnic. Unfortunately, some had already done that and left their rubbish behind.
I headed towards a mast but there was barb wire and an inconvenient walkway. I could have carried on if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to risk getting into trouble for possible trespassing, so I turned back.
On my way back, I headed to McArt’s Fort and had a look over Belfast, before heading back down.
The next time I head up Cavehill, i’ll go an explore more of Carnmoney Hill. That might not be too far away, as I might make an early morning visit when i’m off during the July Holidays.
Next week (29th June – 1st July) I should have been having a short break in Dublin/Bray, trying to blag a ticket for the Euro 2020 game on 30th June and walking up Bray Head while i’m there.
As we now know, Euro 2020 has been put back a year, and even if I wanted to go, my hotel cancelled on me (I get a refund, if you were wondering).
However, I have rebooked for the new date in 2021, so at least I’ve got to look forward to. Although, if things calm down, I might try and sneak in a Dublin/Bray trip later in the year, although the weather won’t be on my side in terms of temperature and daylight if I want to walk up Bray Head.
Despite not going anywhere, i’m still going to use the Annual Leave that has been booked and just relax.
I may use that time to explore Blackmountain. If you’ve got any suggestions for what I should do on my time off, feel free to leave a comment.
One walk I did last year which is up in the air for 2020 is Arthur’s Seat.
I hadn’t anything booked, but I usually head to Edinburgh in August, but there is no Fringe so I won’t be there in August. I may try to sneak in a short break to Scotland (ideally, a Edinburgh/Glasgow/Stirling triple header) later in the year.
Another travel idea i’m having is Brecon Beacons. Being in lockdown, I’ve been watching a lot of TV, some of which has been shows about Brecon Beacons, which looks an amazing place to visit.
If things had been normal, I would have been looking at a short break to Warsaw in October, but everything is up in the air at the moment.
Even staying in Belfast, my plans are taking a hit.
This week has seen concerts by Lightning Seeds (September, already postponed from March and then May) and Paul Weller (October) both being moved to 2021.
2020 is already looking like a write-off. The only entertainment i’ll be having is walking up hills.