Day 46: The End.

As those of you with dodgy minds know, the most frustrating part of having a dodgy mind is how unreliable they can be. And so my darlings, a week and a half late, I present to you (finally): The Post From The Finish Line.

Hitting the North Coast of Northern Ireland was a “Love at first site” kind of affair. The moment I laid eyes on the shore I knew that I would find it difficult to ever leave. My breath hitched and my eyes were suddenly suspiciously watery and all was immediately right. As someone who grew up on the Prairies it truly baffles me how quickly the coast has become my happy place.

The following three days passed by in a sense of wonder. The North Coast is where much much games of thrones is filmed – the views are absolutely breathtaking. The kind of views that have you stopping in your tracks multiple times a day so you can properly soak up the views around you. It’s best to show you.

Isn’t that just incredible?

The 3 days on the north coast were the highlight of my entire walk. Views aside, the people I met were incredible nLauren (and son and cat) who picked me up and housed me and helped me immensely. Paul who walked me to the coast and provided the greatest commentary. And Paul Kerrigan – the man who made my arrival into Ballycastle an absolutely epic moment.

Paul and the community of Ballycastle and the lovely Jill from Mental Health Ireland arranged the most perfect ending to this journey. 1 km out from the official end point of The Ireland Way I was greeted by a welcoming party, cheering me on and waiting to walk the final stretch with me. It was an emotional last km and when I finally laid my hands on the Children of Lir statue, surrounded by a group of supporters, I dissolved into tears.

How to describe this moment? Despite all the obstacles – bad weather, small budget, blisters galore and dodgy mental health – I did it. I walked across a country. And the sense of pride and accomplishment was like no other.

It was greater than I ever could have imagined.

There are so many people I need to thank for every little bit of assistance along the trail. And I’ve thanked you all in person (I hope profusely enough) yet I need to say it again. From the very bottom of my (now fully intact) heart – THANK YOU. Thank you for the beds, the showers, the food, the hugs, the donations to MHI. Thank you for entrusting me with your personal stories and struggles. Thank you for understanding my motivation behind this hike. Thank you for encouraging me to keep walking and for believing in my ability to see this through when my own faith wavered. Thank you for the love and support I have found in this online community. Thank you for giving me a voice and most importantly, thank you for listening to me.

So now the hike is done – what next? Well, as my next “big challenge” I’ve decided to run a marathon sometime between now and next October. So this year will be dedicated to becoming a runner. Any and all advise would be MUCH appreciated! As for now, I’m taking it easy. As part of my quarter-life-crisis I’m volunteering at a hostel in exchange for accommodation with a crew of foreign travellers and walking dogs for some cash on the side. Taking shots of jäger and pulling all-nighters and enjoying life as a typical 20-something (with a 5 year plan). I’m going to keep writing (there may even be a wee book in the works maybe possibly) and advocating for Mental Health awareness in whichever way I can. I’m committing to weekly walks and am organizing a mental health “Walk and Talk” meetup here in Belfast.

I’ll be honest. The post-adventure crash hit and it hit hard. So you may need to bare with me for another week or two as I settle in and adjust to my new life here. Anxiety has been high (as it always is in a new situation) and it’s been a struggle, but it’s all uphill from here and I cannot wait to keep writing and advocating and above all else – sharing my every anxious adventure with you all.

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