I AM proud to say we made it up Errigal in one piece! As I sit here typing I can still feel the pain in my legs from it but the experience was so worth it.
We left Letterkenny at 10am and prepared ourselves for an 11am climb. Coincidentally the Jack and Jill Foundation were climbing at the same time so there was a lovely mix of climbers ranging from children to grandparents.
My first impression of the mountain was one of awe. It is much steeper than I imagined, we could see the trail as we approached the car park and it looked quite daunting!
However I was excited to test my abilities. We were lucky to have experienced climber, Pat McDermott with us who led the climb.
Those who have tackled Errigal will know, there is a stretch of land leading up to the mountain which can get quite marshy depending on the weather but thankfully this was not an issue for us as it had been quite dry.
Once we reached the end of the marshy ground we were met with loose rock which was challenging with my crutches.
The rock itself was beautiful though. It was a brilliant white, almost bleached looking. I couldn’t help but think of my Dad and how he would have loved some for the garden!
I noticed a lot of things while we climbed. There were moments of silence as we concentrated on our footing and it gave me time to reflect on the beauty around me.
Every so often we would stop to look around and I was blown away by the scenery. I was also blown away once or twice by the wind!
There seemed to be pockets of shelter where we were lulled into a false sense of security and then with no warning whatsoever a gust of wind would rip through the mountain.
It was quite surreal but enjoyable. I fell over during one of these occasions landing on a bundle of rock but luckily the only thing bruised was my ego!
My friend and physiotherapist Lorraine Boyce was with us so we knew if we got into trouble we would be in good hands.
Another thing I noticed was the scent of the terrain beneath us. It smelled so fresh and woody and I found it comforting as I made my way upwards.
As the mountain narrowed towards the top we bumped into the Jack and Jill climbers who were great fun and very supportive towards me and my crutches.
When we finally reached the top Pat informed us that to be able to say you reached the summit of Errigal you had to walk across the thin path to the peak at the other side.
My friend Liz has a fear of heights so this last stretch was scary as it really is quite a thin path! We all made it across safely and took a moment to appreciate what we had just accomplished. The view from the top is absolutely stunning.
Like, really really stunning! We stood there for a long time drinking in the view and then celebrated with a selfie! Unbeknownst to us, Pat had been carrying a hip flask filled with Whiskey which he surprised us with.
We took a celebratory drink and sat for a while having lunch and relaxing. Once our lunch things were packed away it was time to tackle the descent.
I was apprehensive at first as I had been told that this was the most difficult part. I couldn’t have disagreed more.
I actually preferred the climb on the way down and we made great time which we hadn’t been expecting. When we reached the bottom I turned around, looked back up and felt proud of what we had achieved.
I did some thinking while I climbed and made a promise to myself that if I made it up Errigal I would organise an even bigger challenge next year – Looks like I have some planning to do!
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