The first weekend of March 2022 saw me visit Carrick to see Linfield win a rearranged game, then the following morning, head up Cavehill.
Then the rest of the month was Linfield matches, against Ballymena United, Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts and Warrenpoint Town.
With the match against Warrenpoint Town being a lunchtime kick-off and the weather being nice, I decided to head to Warrenpoint Beach for some photos. I also headed to Carlingford, but I didn’t get any photos there though.
The month ended with my first Northern Ireland match in over two years, the friendly at home to Hungary.
2022 began with a trip to Dungannon on New Year’s Day to see Linfield win 6-1 at Stangmore Park.
On the Bank Holiday Monday that followed, I could have had a lie-in, but I decided to head up Cavehill instead.
I then visited a new football stadium for the first time, very exciting, going to see Harland and Wolff Welders take on Annagh United at Blanchflower Park, which had opened a few months earlier, this was my first chance to visit this ground.
The rest of the month, was Linfield matches, against Larne, Ballymena United, Glenavon, Cliftonville and Coleraine.
Might as well make the most of a football free Saturday, so off to Cavehill I headed.
You will have noticed i’ve had quite a few football free Saturdays recently. I have been productive with them, just not blogging about it.
At the start of February, I headed to Scrabo Country Park for the first time. Really enjoyed it, but the photos were crap, so not worth blogging about. Definitely plan on returning soon.
A week later, I was off to Colin Glen Forest Park.
I’ve been a few times and know my way about but I managed to stumble into some parts of it i’d never been to before, which was nice.
Unfortunately, the photos were crap. Just dull. Dull weather, dull dull dull. Nothing worth getting excited or blogging about.
Then, on the last Saturday of February, a trip to Cregagh Glen.
Or so I thought. A bridge about five to ten minutes in is unpassable due to storm damage. Off home I go and go for a cycle instead.
So, I decided to head to Cavehill. It had been two months since my last visit, so it was a reasonable enough absence.
Although, when Linfield’s match against Carrick Rangers was postponed, logic pointed to it being this weekend as both clubs were out of the Irish Cup.
That would have meant my football free Saturday might not be football free, but I could make the most of it, make a day of it and head to Whitehead before the match, which would have been my first visit there since last Summer.
When the weather gets better over the coming months, I am planning on making a few return visits to Whitehead.
As much as I love Cavehill, this was a lovely bright morning that was making me yearn for Whitehead, but that’s not where I was heading as the Linfield match was played on the Friday.
With it being so bright, it was time to head out with the camera.
I always hope to get a Sunrise photo at Cavehill. Not today, my bed was too comfy.
However, I was still there early, just after 8am. You have to be in order to get a parking space.
Especially as Belfast City Council don’t have any white paint to clearly mark the bays.
Despite it being bright and sunny, it was actually a bit chilly. It did mean I actually got some use out of the tin of De-Icer I got in November.
Usual drill at Cavehill, up to the top and then back down. I nearly embarrassed myself a few times as it was a bit slippy slidey on the way down.
Thankfully, no falls but a few near misses.
Up next, was Belvoir Park Forest. Dull and wet, nothing exciting. Nothing worth blogging about. Great to be back though after about nine months away.
Towards the end of the month, Linfield will be away to Warrenpoint Town in a match that will take place on Saturday lunchtime as it has been selected for live broadcast by Sky Sports.
Obviously, i’ll have a free afternoon, so hit me up with suggestions for places to go in Warrenpoint.
I’ve also booked a trip to Edinburgh in May, my first visit there since 2019.
I usually go in August so this will be a change. I’ll be planning to take in Arthur’s Seat while i’m there. I still can’t believe I went to Edinburgh so many times before walking it.
Feel free to hit me up with suggestions for that as well. It’ll be a different city from when I usually visit.
Of course, we’re near (it might not feel like it but we are) the end of the football season and lots of free Saturdays.
Time to get the Walking Rota ready. On my list I have Cavehill, Blackmountain, Cregagh Glen, Blackhead Path, North Down Coastal Path, Belvoir Park Forest, Giant’s Ring/Minnowburn/Terrace Hill Gardens, Colin Glen Forest Park and Scrabo Country Park on my To Do List.
So, I have one last day off over the Christmas/New Year Period, and I have two options.
Do I have a lie-in or do I get up early to walk up Cavehill?
Of course I got up early to walk up Cavehill.
I had eleven days off over Christmas if you include Public Holidays and Weekends, but didn’t get out on many walks.
The weather was crap. No point going out for a hillwalk in the rain.
I had quite a few of those mornings where you stare out the window waiting for the rain to stop and then grabbing the bike for a quick cycle as soon as it stops. That was the height of my conscious physical activity of Christmas/New Year. Obviously, i’d done a lot of subconscious activity walking about doing everyday things.
It was a bit frustrating, just as the same time last year, when I had planned on filling every available day with a hillwalk, but it was not to be.
This was my first visit to Cavehill in two months, my longest gap since my first visit in late 2019.
Ok, this might sound odd, but just go with it. I don’t usually go out for a cycle or a hillwalk on a Saturday morning when i’m going to a football match that afternoon.
That’s because I usually put my feet up when I go home and relax, meaning the 3pm kick-off time then becomes a struggle. Trust me.
As a result of actually spending my Saturday afternoons watching football, I haven’t been out for a hillwalk on a Saturday morning for a while.
Add into that, any Saturday i’ve been free, the weather has been crap.
That is basically how I haven’t been to Cavehill for two months. Blame it on crap weather and watching football.
When I talk about crap weather, it’s not just rain. It’s dull skies that don’t really help for good photos, and going for a walk and not taking photos feels like a waste of time.
Talking of time, I left the house just after 8.30am. The lack of traffic was sadly balanced out by all the lights being against me. An absolutely incredible run of red lights in a row.
Despite that hold up, I arrived just before 9am. Seeing a few cars scattered on Innisfayle Park made me worry that the car park was already full, but thankfully, it turned out to be eager walkers who arrived before the gates opened at 7.30am.
I can report, that three days into 2022, the line markings for parking bays at Cavehill are still vague.
Come on Belfast City Council, how hard is it to buy some white paint?
With there being some rain in the previous few days, it was no surprise that is was quite mucky, so I found myself having to psyche myself up a few times to leap over a puddle.
And I found myself having to watch my footsteps at times, mostly on the way down, so that I didn’t slip and slide all over the place.
On my way up, I managed to get some nice photos of the sunrise, although I ended up wishing I had got up earlier so that the same photo opportunities would be there the higher I got.
I didn’t deviate from my usual route, up to McArt’s Fort, have a wee look around Belfast and then back.
Obviously, I wouldn’t be standing too close to the edge due to it being windy, and cold. Thankfully, I had layers, but still, brrr.
I did manage one other hillwalk when I was off, as I went up to Blackmountain the previous Thursday. The weather was dull and dark, so I didn’t bother taking photos, which is why there is no blog.
Thankfully, it was dry, which is the main thing.
I’ve been up Blackmountain in the rain, and it’s not a nice place to be when it rains. It has happened to me, and there is nowhere to shelter.
It was great to get back up Blackmountain after only visiting twice during 2021. You couldn’t keep me away from it towards the end of 2020.
I did go one Saturday morning in January and it was rammed, which put me off going on a weekend. Then, when I was using up Annual Leave, I ended up trying out other walks.
As is customary, I made a donation to the National Trust in exchange from a beverage. As it was Christmas, I treated myself to a hot chocolate instead of the usual cup of tea. I’m so extravagant, i’m out of control.
Part of the Christmas decorations saw a collage of images on the wall of the cafe titled Dogs Of Divis.
Simple really, you let them take a photo of your dog if you’ve taken it with you, and they print it off and include it on a collage on the wall.
Unsurprisingly, they were all good dogs. 13/10, would pet.
Genuinely reckon if there were Social Media accounts based on Dogs Of Divis, they would be the most followed accounts on the web.
For the record, Cavehill was holding it’s own in terms of good dogs this morning.
While I was out, ITV were broadcasting Britain’s Favourite Walks : Top 100, hosted by Julia Bradbury and Ore Oduba. If you have Sky Q, you should be able to download it. It’s a repeat of a show originally broadcast about two or three years ago.
So, a first walk of 2022 is done, i’m sure i’ll have more over the next 362 days.
On the wishlist for this year that I hope to do at some point are Belvoir Park Forest, Blackhead Path, Blackmountain, Colin Glen Forest Park, Cregagh Glen, Giant’s Ring, North Down Coastal Path and Scrabo Country Park
I’ve no travel whatsoever booked, so we’ll just have to wait and see what other walking adventures I have.