Peace doesn’t always come easily to me, but it comes best when I’m exploring new places on foot or by bike. Our return to Glentrool was a chance to leave stresses behind and be present in the moment, absorbed for a week in this dark-skied forest.
There’s something different about the way my bike handles. It alternates between dragging me back on the hills and pushing me forward as we crest them. When we round a bend, I glance back to check the line I’m taking on the corner. There, behind me, is the reason for my caution: a bike trailer carrying our new Golden Retriever puppy, Lula. She's looking out contentedly.
I’m no lover of cities, yet I'm drawn to edgelands – those transitional spaces that are neither urban nor rural. Seek them out and you’ll find, laid bare, the threads connecting our built and natural worlds.
It was a late August morning, the first of our holiday, and we were keen to get going. We retrieved our bikes from the cottage porch and set off on trails which – over the next few days – would take us to a street market, a neolithic tomb and the largest stone circle in the world.
This had to be the one. No. Maybe that one over there? Wrong again. Each time I decided a towering hill was the one guarding the head of the glen, signifying I was nearly home, my hopes were dashed. Eventually, I stopped torturing myself and just let the climbs come. The glen would appear in its own time, it couldn’t be rushed.
After settling into our little white cottage, we rode the path from the village down to the visitors’ centre. Off-road riding almost from the door. This was how things should be, this was going to be a good holiday.