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By Neil Keery
Hi, my name is Neil. I am 35 years old. I’m from Banbridge town, born & raised, but moved to the big(-ish) smoke, Belfast, a couple of years ago. I run the Jessops photography store in the centre of the city and I am a wedding photographer. I’ve been picturing people’s love stories for around 10 years now.
I love to get out into the great outdoors, I find it calming for the mind & soul. One of my favourites since the move to Belfast is Cave Hill, an immensely popular walk in Belfast. On my first walk up Cave Hill I had the company of my daughter, Eva, & a group of friends.
A few of those friends are Russian and, coming from such a vast land, they have an inclination to get off the beaten path. I can vouch first hand for how beautifully rich in nature Russia is. I have a story from my travels there that involve cutting through forest land with machetes, home made vodka & my ending up in the river, fully clothed… but that is for another time.
SO… the Autumn day on Cave Hill was no different to said inclination, with Vladimir leading us off path within minutes, which proved an interesting and challenging decision. After the initial ascent from the entrance of Belfast Castle, the beaten path goes either left or right; our path was straight on, through the woodland area.
As can be seen in some of the attached photos of my friends, we came across an extremely steep dirt path, that had a steep fall-off either side. After negotiating this section it was back to the forest land. We let the forest guide us through the areas that were not as overgrown and easier to navigate.
Within an hour we had made it to a front facing view of the cliff face, which stood impressively in front of us. From this area we could see tiny figures on the horizon of our fellow walkers who took the circular pathway to the summit. Another steep climb ensued to reach the normal pathway, along with the first of the impressive views the area has to offer.
From there it was on to the top of Cave Hill to take in a panoramic view of Belfast, which is simply stunning.
Coming from the Banbridge area and being used to having the wonderful treks across the Mourne Mountains, Tollymore & Castlewellan to name a few it was great to see what Belfast has to offer by way of nature walks. Cave Hill did not disappoint.
This walk would be suitable for most ages and average fitness levels. The main path is well marked out, whilst naturally having steep inclines. If you are feeling adventurous then make your own path! Most of the party wore trainers on the day, though hiking boots would have been a bonus.