Into The Woods - Tollymore Forest Park

Today was a bit of a stinker.  The kind of day that makes you want to crawl up under a crocheted blanket, shut the world away and curse this non-existent summer.  The rain mizzled off and on, sky awash with white and grey.  We had lunch with Dave's dad and on the drive home decided to stuff the weather and head out. There was approximately 1% in the decision to go out rather than stay in.  Bless that 1%.

We headed to Tollymore Forest Park in the heart of the Kingdom of Mourne (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).  Surrounded by trees that are as old as the mountains that look over them, it was just the ticket for us three to go exploring.  It's been ages since I've been in here and it was all I could do not to strip off and take a dip in that crystal clear mountain stream water.  Although the drizzly rain continued, we didn't even feel it.  We were so sheltered in amongst the green, climbing in rock pools, over bridges and stepping stones.

tollymore DSC_4182 tollymoreclimbing leviThere is something so calming about being in the woods.  The life all around, the stillness, the history, the sense of smallness you feel next to the towering trees.  It's pretty humbling and great for perspective.

DSC_4203 DSC_4196 DSC_4208Levi & DaveThere weren't many people around, which made it even nicer - just a few people walking with their dogs and a Game of Thrones tour (some of it was filmed in the forest).  We vowed to come back on the next good day with our swimmers to have a dip and tick the 'Wild Swimming' box off our Summer Bucket List.

tollymore DSC_4330 tollymoreHave you ever seen green like it? To me, this place is a true treasure of Ireland - so untouched.

tollymore DSC_4288 DSC_4283 DSC_4282mel wiggins tollymoreWe went into Newcastle and had some food, gobbled an ice-cream on the beach and then drove the 40 minutes home.  It's pretty incredible to have all this on our doorstep here (come visit!).

We were all zonked by the time we hit home, with Levi being carried in and up to bed sleeping (is there a more tense time in life as a parent when you carry a sleeping child from the car to bed with the fragile hope that they will not fully wake up in transition?!).

Someone on Instagram mentioned that there is a C.S. Lewis tour in Tollymore and it got me thinking about an old Lewis poem 'The Future of Forestry".  It speaks of fear that our children will not know, understand or be tuned into the mystery and wonder of nature.  It resonated with me today in particular - how quickly and easily we can unconsciously leave nature out of our children's lives.  We have to work harder now to connect with the living world, we have to seek it out with more intention.  I hope we remember.


The Future of Forestry

How will the legend of the age of trees Feel, when the last tree falls in England? When the concrete spreads and the town conquers The country’s heart; when contraceptive Tarmac’s laid where farm has faded, Tramline flows where slept a hamlet, And shop-fronts, blazing without a stop from Dover to Wrath, have glazed us over? Simplest tales will then bewilder The questioning children, “What was a chestnut? Say what it means to climb a Beanstalk, Tell me, grandfather, what an elm is. What was Autumn? They never taught us.” Then, told by teachers how once from mould Came growing creatures of lower nature Able to live and die, though neither Beast nor man, and around them wreathing Excellent clothing, breathing sunlight – Half understanding, their ill-acquainted Fancy will tint their wonder-paintings Trees as men walking, wood-romances Of goblins stalking in silky green, Of milk-sheen froth upon the lace of hawthorn’s Collar, pallor in the face of birchgirl. So shall a homeless time, though dimly Catch from afar (for soul is watchfull) A sight of tree-delighted Eden.