Hiking in the Newlands Valley

20120906-001358.jpgI’m pretty sure that we’re currently in the most beautiful place in the entire world. The valley is green, sheep dot the pastures and the bracken covered hills, the pastures are separated by hand-built stone walls (where they’re fenced at all), thick clusters of flowers overflow from hanging baskets and flower beds, roses twine up the sides of whitewashed houses and wooden old barns, and the steep hills above us look green or brown or red or purple depending on how the sunlight and clouds hit them. The sheep in this valley probably outnumber the people (tourists included) by at least 10 to 1. And everywhere there are public footpaths, wooden gates, stone bridges over rushing streams and trails that wind up to the ridges. It’s a place that is just begging to be explored.

20120906-001411.jpgOur goal for today was to hike around a bit. I’d done a little research and found a few likely paths, but mostly, I wanted to investigate right around our little hotel, so we asked the proprietor for a recommended route. He sent us on a 2 mile journey along the base of the big hill right behind our guest house. We borrowed a good off-road stroller and set off.

We went through a wooden gate and along a grassy track for a moment, and then turned the corner and headed straight uphill. The path was “paved” with stones and rocks, and it was pretty steep. We found sheep along both sides (some very close to where we walked) and were passed by several hikers (some going up, some coming down).

20120906-001442.jpgLiam wanted to walk every step of the way. B was happy to ride in the stroller, but Liam wanted to hike on his own. He got very upset when we tried to carry him. We climbed up, took breaks for rest and water, and he just kept on walking.

20120906-001528.jpgWe crossed a quick-moving stream with a tiny bridge (the bridge was much too narrow for the stroller, so I walked across). As we climbed, the path leveled out a bit and we were treated to an excellent view of the valley. But, as we went further, the track got muddier. Liam screamed and kicked every time we had to carry him over some squishy ground, and the stroller kept getting stuck. We finally decided to turn around.

20120906-001539.jpgI think we covered about half a mile before we turned around — it wasn’t quite the hike we’d envisioned. But it was fun, beautiful and completely worth the effort. I’m really glad we went. I’m glad the boys got to hike and explore and be (relatively) free for a bit. We had a great time.

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