County Londonderry, North Coast, Northern Ireland, photography, virtual, walking

Surviving winter lockdown

After 4 long winter months in ‘lockdown’, with covid restrictions in place since Boxing Day, the past couple of weekends have seen more & more people out and about along the north coast. The sunny weather & the relaxing of restrictions has resulted in a real buzz around the country. It got me thinking back to the dark winter months when we couldn’t meet up outside our household bubbles and daylight was short.

During January & February we decided to continue meeting “virtually”, walking on the same day & at the same time, just not together. We stayed local, within 10 miles from home, & walked for a couple of hours. The novelty of it got us through those winter months, “walking together, while on our own” & sharing our photos later via social media.

So here’s a few photos looking back at my walks from the start of the year, and marvelling at how far we’ve come in the past 4 months!

Saturday 23rd January 2021 – Fun in the Snow

A path well travelled

Our January walk greeted us with a covering of snow overnight which added to the fun & like a big child I couldn’t wait to get out walking in it! Despite the cold we were blessed with blue skies & some winter sunshine as I strided out along the riverside path on my todd.

Snow covered moorings
A cool looking River Bann
ugly duckling or beautiful swan?
Just me & my shadow
Winter sunshine

Saturday 20th February 2021 – Wet and Windy Wandering

After pounding the local paths for much of January I decided to venture further afield in February. So still keeping within a 10 mile limit from home, and in want of some sea air and the sound of the waves, I headed to Castlerock.

My walk didn’t get off to a very good start as heavy rain set in & I was drenched by the time I reached the barmouth (even with my waterproof gear on!) I think the surfers were the only folk happy with the weather. However, thankfully the day improved & I managed to dry out as I headed towards Mussenden Demesne, Downhill Forest and home via the temple.

Wet & windy, but the surfers were enjoying the waves!
Entering Downhill Demesne
Signs of Hope
Delicate snowdrops
Winter wonders, joy to the eyes!
Fast flowing water through Downhill Forest
Who needs a gym?
Lots of puddles
Downhill House
Never tire of this beautiful building
Windswept trees
Impressive remains of Downhill House
Plenty of walkers on the beach

St Patrick’s Day 2021 – Binevenagh

In March, with spring around the corner, we began to see some light at the end of the long covid tunnel. In need of a good leg stretch I arranged to meet up with a friend on St Patrick’s Day. We parked at Gortmore viewing point and headed towards Binevenagh via Hell’s Hole on the Bishop’s Road.

Binevenagh in the distance
Blue skies were the order of the day
Views of Lough Foyle & the River Roe below
Looking toward Benone strand
The Forest & Nature Reserve below
Muddy trail to the forest below added to the fun
Time for some more photos
Homeward bound – great new waymarkers in place for the IAT

Saturday 17th April 2021 – Benbradagh

Benbradagh has been on my list for some time – we’d postponed it many times due to the weather. However, as April had been a lovely dry month we decided to give Benbradagh a go. When we arrived to do our planned walk we had to resort to a Plan B due to the development of a wind farm. Thankfully we had maps & so quickly decided on an alternative route walking through Lenamore Forest and across to the tarmac American Road, following the North Sperrins Way/Ulster Way.

Dry stream along the Ulster Way
A trail of Christmas trees
New waymarkers towards the forest
Looking down towards the new wind farm
Newly installed bridge to help us on our way
The American Road

Once we reached the American Road it was pretty straight forward walking towards Benbradagh – just us & a few sheep!

The remains of the old American naval base
Benbradagh in sight
Very windy at the cliff edge but great views across to Donegal
Time to retrace our steps

We retraced our steps back to the start via the remains of the old American naval base, now taken over by the local sheep!

Nature reclaiming the old naval base
All downhill
Blue skies to finish our walk

So, there you have it, a quick look back at the first 4 months of 2021. From early snowdrops & their symbol of hope, through to blue skies & the warmer days of spring, we have managed to keep plodding our way along the unending covid tunnel. But we’re starting to come out of the tunnel and there is a real optimism for the months ahead. Hopefully things will be better this summer and this will have been our last lockdown – we can but hope! In the meantime, take care & stay safe.

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