Hooking in Strange Places: Slieve Foy (in a near gale)

Slieve Foy, or Carlingford Mountain, is not that impressive, as mountains go. It would be dwarfed by many peaks in mainland Europe, and sports no sheer cliffs to provide a nerve-twanging ascent by super-people hanging from one fingernail at a time. Instead, the slopes of the Cooley range Slieve Foy is part of tend to have relatively gentle gradients, the peaks rounded. You need no more than a few hours, walking boots and a bit of determination to scale it. Even so, it is not known as a popular destination for hookers, which made it the perfect destination for me.

I’d never walked up Slieve Foy before, and because I can get lost in my own bedroom, I thought it prudent to go with a guide. Husband Micky is not only a lifelong rock climbing enthusiast, he also does a lot of hillwalking. On an unusually pleasant winter day, we decided it would be fun to tackle the peak. I tucked a ball of red wool and the 3.5mm hook I always used into an outside pocket of his rucsack. Continue reading

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Hooking in Strange Places: Proleek Dolmen… in the dark

The athletics track beside my high school didn’t look like a mecca of natural life. Yet when I knelt down one dewy morning and inspected a small square of dull green grass up close, I discovered it was like an insect city, or at least a big town. Six-legged creatures bustled here and there, a whole civilisation hidden at our feet. Climbing the rugby posts and sitting on the crossbar showed me that a mundane place can look new if you observe it from a different angle.

The self-conscious ‘look at me’ aspect of my actions washed away over time, and left me with a precious memory. I have done something few others have done. I have seen something few others have seen. And I didn’t go to France, Antarctica or the wilderness of North America to accomplish this. I didn’t even leave the school grounds. I just looked at the same old place in a new way.

The big adventures are to be pursued, embraced where they’re possible. It’s a pity, though, if the small ones are neglected in the process.

A visit to the Proleek Dolmen isn’t in itself much to write home about. This is not because the dolmen is uninteresting. The capstone, estimated to weigh between thirty and forty tonnes, rests on the pointed tips of three stones each over two metres tall. Yet in the end, it comes down to parking at a hotel, walking through a golf course, then looking at some stones before going for a cup of tea. Even sitting underneath the capstone and crafting a granny square would hardly make for interesting reading. I felt in my heart this should be my next target, though, and needed to somehow make the experience new. Continue reading