I visit family near Derry quite regularly, but recently realized that until now I’ve done very little exploring in this part of the country. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed to say that most of the countryside I’ve seen has been through the glare of the car windscreen. So, in light of my new blogging hobby and 2014 resolution to discover more of what Northern Ireland has to offer I set off a little earlier than usual on my last journey to visit grandmother dearest, and took a slight detour to take in the sights of Ness Country Park.
Situated south-west of Derry city, this 55 hectare area of woodland, waterfalls and open park is open all year round and perfect for a weekend stroll away from the hustle and bustle of the working week. You couldn’t be much closer to nature if you tried, with the only noises interfering with the tranquility being the playful chirping of the birds and the gushing of the stunning waterfalls from the Burntollet river, which runs directly through the park.
The blend of riverside and woodland in this park is rather stunning making it very tempting to stop and take in the views as you walk along. And why not, really? Certain spots in the park (like these ones below) reminded me of The Lord of the Rings, from talking trees to hobbit holes.. but then again, it has often been said I can have an over-active imagination! What do you think?
Leaving the car at the new Visitor Centre (which looks more like a beautifully restored cottage) I meandered through the park at my leisure. However, as I walked past the ponds I realized I was not alone…. in fact, I was surrounded… by these noisy little fellows. I remember how excited I was about hatching tadpoles at school when I was a kid, but decided that as a 24 year old, I probably shouldn’t disturb them for the purpose of childhood nostalgia. Instead, I quietly took some photos, which they consented to gladly 😉
I love city life and the countless activities readily available 24/7 which the urban lifestyle provides, but after two solid years living in downtown Toronto, the most notable quality about home for me has been the accessibility to Ireland’s beautiful, untouched countryside. They don’t call us the Emerald Isle for nothing. Growing up surrounded by fields and wildlife was fun when I was a young kid, boring as a teenager, isolating as a young adult, and now as I approach my mid-twenties is making a grand return into my life as an environment of refuge, inspiration and peacefulness.
As a typical member of ‘Generation Y’, like you I’m sure, I’m constantly on call, constantly planning ahead and constantly doing at least three things at once, all whilst tweeting about the latest song I’ve heard, and although I’m enjoying the busyness of it all, the refreshing feeling of switching off completely and taking a walk in the countryside is quite unparalleled.
Not to sound too hippie or Ghandi-esque, but I’m becoming more and more interested in physical and mental wellness and believe in the importance of a healthy mind to stay balanced in this increasingly manic world. I read somewhere that by 2020 more of Western society is going to by dying from stress-related illness than any other reason, including cancer. Scary.
So for what it’s worth, I advise you all to switch off your devices to recharge their batteries, and then take a walk in the countryside to recharge your own.
Until next time, Lots of Love, K.