Slemish is a solitary mountain, about 8 miles off Ballymena. Besides the breathtaking panorama surrounding it, Slemish is a popular site for hikers and climbers for its steep paths and as a heritage site associated to the history of St. Patrick. In local tradition, the mountain was the site of the saint’s slavery, where he spent 6 years herding livestock for Mulchi, the local chieftain.
Today, as we saw a wonderful sun in a cloudless sky, we thought it was the perfect day to go hiking up there. What you should know about Slemish is that you won’t find signage for the paths. From the parking lot, you will pass the gate and then you’re pretty much on your own: you just start climbing up, and you will be free to choose whatever beaten track is out there, more or less guessing what suits you best. The bottom line is that the paths get steeper and steeper and you’ll end up using feet and hands alike to get to the top. Once you’re up to the top, you will enjoy an absolutely stunning panorama. Today it was slightly foggy, but still we could see as far as the Sperrin mountains.
The real challenge is then to go back down. We were told by another couple we crossed paths with that there is a gentler but longer way: if there is, we didn’t find it. Once on top, we crosses to the opposite end and started going down from what seemed a gentle path. We came down again hands, feet and – some parts – buttocks. When we were down again, we couldn’t believe we had come down that way (see the last picture of this gallery? We came down from the top, with no equipment at all). All in all, it was a lot of fun. The sun was warm and there was no wind at all, which made it all very pleasant. In all, it took us two hours to go up and down again (just to walk 4 km).
Once home, we celebrated our first climb of the year with a bowl of spaghetti with the hand-made tomato sauce that my parents shipped over from Italy.
However, our day out in the open was not finished yet: the sun was too inviting to spend the rest of the day at home. We drove to the nearby Hazelbank park and we walked along the coast path, enjoying the sun and the fresh air.
At the end of the day, we walked about 8 km. This day out and about was long overdue… welcome spring, welcome back sun!