Escape to the great outdoors
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence… You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.” (Max Ehrmann 1927)
We all live life at a pace these days. It can be hard to slow down. We have become so programmed, we tend to operate on autopilot and move from one task to the next without much time to stand still. I remember in my teaching days receiving a card from a friend in Africa cautioning me to “slow down and give my soul time to catch up.” He was right, even if I couldn’t see it at the time. I had become consumed by my work and struggled to see beyond it. Daily routine can numb us from the magic that lies in the unscripted moments in life. It’s great to break out now and again.
Navigating life is not always easy. Once you leave the moorings by the river’s edge, you cannot be sure the currents will conspire to help you. All the more reason to anchor at the isle on occasion and assess your travel path in light of what each new day brings. The universe has a way of nudging us into a realisation that there is more to life. Outdoor adventures, no matter how humble, draw us unknowingly to a space where we begin to feel alive again. What may have worried you starting out is viewed with new eyes by the time you return home. Perspective is everything. The world may not have changed but you have. From here, there is no going back.
The Waterford Greenway takes on a new life when we slow the pace right down. Here on this age-old railway line, we come face to face with the power of the natural world to ease us beyond the world as we know it. We become temporary travelers in a timeless odyssey played out before us. The slower the cadence the more receptive we become to a deeper current that flows from source to the seas beyond – the telepathic symmetry of birds in flight over the River Suir, the shimmering shades across the Comeraghs as the clouds fade out into the darkening skies, the symphony of sound as the waves crash to the shore near Clonea. We sense we are part of something timeless in our midst. Nothing is said. It doesn’t need to be. The universe does it for us.
Closeness to the natural world tunes us to a new frequency. There’s no therapy quite like it. The more we gravitate towards the great outdoors, the more our lives can be observed from a new vantage point. Here, on the other side, the simple things matter; feeling the cool water as we wade our way along the beach or the thrill when we scale a mountain range once enticingly beyond our reach or the soothing calm of the river as it rolls with unswerving ease from the falls above. Through the narrowed lens, we begin to see more clearly. What’s around us connects to something deep within. Mind, body, soul in perfect equilibrium!
We are made from the stars and the universe is quick to remind us! My mam walked with us across the headland in Dunmore East on a recent visit. She climbed the steps up and strolled all the way out to Portally and back, drawing breath on occasion to soak in the beauty of it all. The views across the Bay over to Hook casts a mystical spell and all who pass this way sense it. The exhilaration she felt when she returned to the harbour was indescribable. It was one of those moments that stays with you! Every new adventure starts with one single step; from woodland trails to river walks to mountain treks to sea kayaking. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction you experience on your return.
The Olympian spirit is not spared for the few – it’s meant for us all! One of our recent visitors cycled 20 km on the Waterford Greenway despite suffering with an arthritic condition that would have rendered such feats impossible. On arrival at Durrow, she was happy to meet us further down the line, but, to her surprise, we had arranged with the Greenway Man, Garvan, to have an ebike on standby should she choose to join us. She wasn’t just content to cycle into Dungarvan but insisted on making the return trip back to O’ Mahony’s after lunch. She was so proud of herself; she toasted her achievement over an Irish whiskey there and then and invested in her own ebike a week later. We all have depths to us that we only come to know when tested. There are no limits.
The following note awaited me when I awoke this morning. We were privileged to share the path with him and a delegation of international visitors who attended the Annual European SPES Conference on Spirituality in WIT last week. Each group brings its own brand of magic, depth and maybe a little madness 😊
“I joined a group of colleagues on the Waterford Camino last Saturday and we had a blast. Tour guides Phil and Elaine attended to our needs and enabled us to unwind after a busy few days. As we walked the Waterford Greenway between Waterford and Dungarvan along the old train track, we began to still the voice and tune into a more observing mind. The River Suir has a way of slowing the pulse right down and the walk from Killoteran to Kilmeaden was just the tonic we all needed. Elaine treated us to freshly baked Waterford ‘Blaa’ filled with roast chicken that she had prepared for each of us earlier and served us the perfect cuppa in the converted train carriage in Kilmeaden.
Our coach driver, Tom, then brought us on an amazing odyssey through the majestic Comeragh Mountains and dropped us off for a stroll out to the Mahon Falls. We were led on a short, reflective ‘compass point’ to guide us on our way before we walked onwards in silence or quiet chat with new friends. I fondly remember an American in our group, Kevin, lay his head beneath the stream that flowed to the Falls. This spontaneous ‘overflow’ of pure emotion helped him to momentarily forget that he was soaked from head to toe. There was great drying out as we made our way back, so he survived. We had great craic.
Later we visited the quaint town of Kilmacthomas where we enjoyed some beautiful seabass in Kiersey’s. So many different nationalities assembled around one table – American, Belgian, Swiss, Norwegian, Canadian, Australian, Irish. We could have chatted for ages. Different people from different places yet for these fleeting few hours we were one. We continued our trails after lunch further up the Greenway through Durrow Tunnel. It was stunning to emerge from the darkness to an oasis of flora and fauna on the other side. This is the stuff of memory! There was a moment when walking in the light again felt like being in a vacuum; all went still and quiet, nudging us to go deeper.
On we travelled along the Copper Coast where we took in the breathtaking views that matched the curious history of this mystical space. Our final stop was to the seaside town of Tramore where we enjoyed a ‘99’ to the sound of the waters lapping to the shore. Some of the foreign academics, accustomed as they are to seeking truth, were curious to know how the ‘99’ got its name. After a quick google search, we discovered that it was the name given to the elite armed forces in Italy later used in a marketing strategy of an ‘elite’ ice-cream company to denote their superior brand. Whether it was Italian or Irish, it tasted lovely!
We travelled homeward grateful for an epic day that will live long in the memory. Thank you, Waterford Camino Tours, for making this happen! It has stirred something in me.” (Gavin Murphy, Dublin)
“I will arise and go now, for always night and day,
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.” (W.B. Yeats,1888)
Dr. Phil Brennan and his wife Elaine are rolling out exciting new One Day Experiences for the coming season. Check out the ‘Escape to the great outdoors’ on the links attached or on www.waterfordcamino.com We can create day experiences for groups of eight or more. You arrange the group, leave the rest to us.
We’ve added boat trips or kayaking down the River Blackwater and the River Barrow to go with our range of Camino Trails. For us, it’s not about moving at pace to reach our destination. It’s the steps in between that matter most! Contact Phil and Elaine on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Every day can be tailored to suit you.