Dot writes: given a bank holiday Monday with rain forecast and two tiny children, which of the following options seems most sensible?:
a) staying at home and drugging them with mindless DVDs
b) going to Dundrum shopping centre, along with 98% of the population of Dublin or
c) walking up a steep, exposed hill in Wicklow.
Yes, the answer is (a). And now guess which one we did.
It wasn’t entirely awful. Well, it was quite awful. I made my accustomed exclamations about how unfit I am, but with feeling; Frank and all his gear on my back didn’t exactly make it easier for someone who hasn’t done any serious walking for several years. Ken under the weight of Hugh was glad of his walking pole. Frank started to cry as we emerged into the exposed part at the top, and both boys howled on the way down as the rain became heavier and they were imprisoned behind raincovers. Hugh repeatedly lost one boot. It was a group walk and we enjoyed the social side, and I think Hugh liked clambering around the cairn, but I suspect we won’t be trying anything similar in the future unless the weather reports promise on their honour that there will be temperate sunshine for the next month.
On the other hand…I love the hills. I’d forgotten how incredibly satisfying I find it, even in my present pathetically flabby state, to plod my way step by step up a steep slope and then look back and see how high those slow patient steps have brought me; how much I love bleak uplands and expanses of heather, even in the rain; how surprisingly good rain can feel when you are properly dressed for it and warm with exercise (though sweatiness and raincoats aren’t a good mix); how good a pork-pie tastes at the top. I want to do more of this. But not without a babysitter.