Our feet were on the move again, setting out to explore another forest park we haven't been to for several years. Another childhood memory was about to be relived, or at least we thought it was. We had our route map for the journey, anticipating the sights and sounds of the waterfalls in Glenariff Forest park. It is known as the Queen of the Glens, just one of the nine glans of Antrim. The park covers over 1000 hectares with woodland, lakes, outdoor recreation and conservation areas. After our previous days out we were really looking forward to this experience with the prospect of new photos to share on our blog. Imagine what we felt like when we arrived at the main entrance to be faced with warning notices that the forest was closed to cars and pedestrians. I must have been smitten with dad's usual 'lets try it anyway' as I was the one to notice some people were heading up the road on foot. Unlike dad's more adventurous nature he wasn't prepared to park outside and ramble on in. This made me think too and with the feeling of disappointment after the car journey we drove past to see if there was somewhere we could get out and stretch our legs.
Scenic routes may be beautiful but my heart really wanted to be out and benefiting from the exercise we put ourselves through when we walk. We stopped in a car park and thankfully I picked up a mobile signal and decided to ask Google if Glenariff was closed! It was indeed under restricted access as they are building a new camp and caravan site and heavy construction vehicles would be a danger. I also read there would be restricted access to the waterfall trails at times when it might be possible to reach this walk on foot. dad was soon back behind the wheel as we drove back to our intended destination. Think of piles of mud as the site is under construction but this didn't put us off this time and we met other friendly people all trying to find the waterfall walk as a closed sign was the last thing they wanted to see too. Admittedly we couldn't do the scenic walk and may not be able to do the full walk until the work is complete although it seems part will be opened in the peak season.
Our day turned into another day we don't want to forget as our senses were yet again taken indulged with different sights and sounds of nature. The volume of the waterfalls along the pathway which is considered safe was amazing. We noticed the diverse selection of moss and greenery which survive in these conditions. We find comparing the different species of flora and birds to name but two adds to our comprehension of the environment around us. Whilst the day had dulled by this stage and I was feeling the cold we kept moving and took some photos to remind us. The scenery around the park is stunning and will be worth another visit especially when we have full access to the scenic walk.
Time moved on although we tend to forget the time when we are exploring. We came across Laragh Lodge which prompted dad to ask if I would like a cup of coffee. I knew we were a distance from the car and then we had to drive all the way back home therefore decided an espresso would give me the strength I needed to get back to the car! They didn't have any objections to us just having coffee and welcomed us despite our muddy boots. Dad knew we wouldn't be home until a lot later than our usual days out and defiantly after the time I am usually in bed! I don't know if it was me he was thinking about or if he was hungry as we never have snacks in our rucksacks. Eating out has a few difficulties although a reassuring notice about food intolerances or special requests made us feel we weren't imposing. Admittedly I was prepared to keep going with my coffee but would have been relived if dad could have a meal as I knew I would be super tired when we arrived home. The lady really wanted to find something for me and we agreed on a small side bowl of lettuce and onion (the chef wanted to add everything!) he added some tomato which I couldn't eat all off but at least they were willing to help a very fussy eater. Dad enjoyed his meal although experienced a few minutes of panic when I left to use the wash rooms he discovered he had left his wallet in the car! He really thought he would have to cancel the meal but when I returned he breathed again as I had our card in my bag to pay for the meal (my carry everything bag is necessary after all) maybe dad planned the delayed walk and forgetting his wallet as part of our day! I know there was a few things on dad's plate which aren't part of his normal diet but in a situation like this I think he deserved a little break from our strict control. The staff were incredibly friendly and still couldn't believe my feast was lettuce and onion in a dish they thought was too small but was a lot more than I could eat. I drank a lot of their water to make up for it!
Off course dad needed his fuel as on the way back I was really pushing myself determined not to give in. My shoulder and neck burned yet again, so off came my rucksack and a well fed dad came to the rescue and carried my extra load.
Reading the information board towards the end of our walk we were subjected to the close scrutiny of the forest guard, his duties when the Christmas card season is over.
Dad took a photo along our way which we really don't seem to know what it is for. I wonder if someday we will know how to use one of these?
On our way back in the car we remembered a photograph we wanted to take, tiredness to the extreme didn't prevent us stopping and saying yes, to whimsy as we crossed the field to see our little tree house!