On Sunday, I enjoyed great fun hiking on Nephin mountain, here in Mayo.

I went for a hike up to the summit, never quite made it and returned to the starting point after 6 hours, rather than the typical 4.5 hours it takes to achieve the summit, hang around a little and head back down.

Why so ? Because there was serious snow on the mountain and more of it pelting down from the sky. Having had to crouch behind one of the last decent-sized rocks near the summit for 20 minutes, hoping the snow and wind might abate, I had to give in. There would be no summit today.

As they say – Respect the Mountain.

The brilliant bright snow lay 30 cm deep towards the top, with deeper spots to 60 cm, blanketing the mountain in a gorgeous white. There aren’t many more beautiful sights in nature. It was almost a pity to walk in it – a combination of the twin child feelings of delight at being the only person to walk there, mixed with regret at tramping on the otherwise perfect covering. Snow is one of nature’s great gifts.

Another thought struck me, as I came down out of the snow, gradually shrinking to 20 cm deep, then less. We may not have the highest mountains in the world – not even in Ireland, indeed – but these are our mountains.

There’s a John Denveresque song in there somewhere – “Take me home to the Nephins …”

I lead small groups on guided hikes of Nephin mountain several times during the summer. Get in touh if you”d like to join us one day.