LAST Wednesday, the 12th of August I climbed a narrow, steep, windy staircase. With each step my heartbeat grew louder in my chest. By the time I reached the top I was terrified. Stepping out and looking over the edge was both breathtaking and heart-stopping. It was now or never. With fear rising at an alarming rate I pushed it down and got on with the task at hand. Helmet? Check. Harness? Check. Rope? Check.
There were four metal railings to clamber over and with hands gripped as tight as humanly possible, I suddenly found myself on the outskirts of Fanad Head Lighthouse.
My latest challenge involved abseiling off one of Ireland’s best known lighthouses and although I had a brief moment of initial panic, I am pleased to say I completed the challenge not once or twice, but three times in total! It was one of the best experiences I have ever had and it was my most adrenaline pumping challenge to date.
Stepping out over the edge was surreal. I felt safe at first as I had the railing to hold on to but once I leaned back, putting my full weight through the rope, that ‘safe’ feeling instantly leaked out of every pore in my body. The space between me and the ground suddenly seemed miles apart and a fleeting shadow of doubt crossed my mind. I looked up at Iain (Miller, owner of Unique Ascent) and he could see fear etched into my face. It was now or never.
With self doubt still dancing an unwelcome dance in my head I chose to ignore it and power through. With trembling hands I gradually released the rope just enough to lower me out over the lip of the tower. Once past that part it was smooth ‘seiling’ the rest of the way. I started enjoying it more and more with each rope release and surprised myself by feeling disappointed when I reached the ground. If I were to describe the feeling, I would have to compare it to the rush you get on a scary funfair ride . Terrified at first but excited to go again when it is over.
Organising this event was less straight forward than usual. I was in contact with Irish Lights who are based in Dun Laoghaire. The process made me appreciate what I was hoping to do. Normally I pick a challenge and just do it but this one involved seeking permission from a number of different organisations. I would like to thank Brian Kelly of Irish Lights for giving us the final go ahead and a special thanks goes to Eamonn McAteer who is the lighthouse keeper for Fanad Lighthouse. His hospitality was great.
Lastly I would like to thank Declan and Iain. I have booked Declan a number of times for various events as his style of photography is so creative. He goes above and beyond to get the right shot.
Iain Miller took a day off work to assist me with the abseil. He set everything up and stayed behind after we left to make sure everything was packed away. His support over the past number of years has been amazing and I never fail to learn something new when in his company. Iain, if you are reading this; Thank you for everything!
Nikki Bradley is the founder of Fighting Fit For Ewing’s, a campaign to promote awareness of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Nikki is sponsored by All Sports in Donegal Town. Support her campaign by giving ‘Fighting Fit For Ewing’s’ a LIKE on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @nikkibradley59