and a little guide to my village in partnership with FitFlop… #ad
There’s not much that I love more in life than a cold, crisp day, my family around me, and getting outdoors. Especially if it can be in this most beautiful of seasons and in a place that is so known and so comforting because of that. Recently FitFlop challenged me to produce a little walking tour of my local village and, once again, I’ve been so grateful to have the push to look at the area we live in with new eyes. It really is so beautiful and I’m always at risk of taking that for granted in the hustle of the everyday. Sometimes having a purpose and a reason to look can just be enough to see things in a new light. I’m so proud to be able to show you too!
FitFlop kitted me out in their Uber Knit Slip on Ghillie design and they are a far cry from my perceptions of a ‘comfortable’ shoe. Beautifully contemporary, they fit right in with my every day style and I’ve been wearing them ever since. Not just on walks either! They make the perfect school run / supermarket shop / round the block with Ernie shoe, and because I genuinely love their design coupled with the insane comfort, I’m totally sold. There’s no fluffy, half measures in this technology either. Designed by doctors of biomechanics, these shoes are rigorously tested to ensure that your body is aligned properly when you walk, and pressure is diffused appropriately too. Making for the perfect strolling experience. It’s honestly like walking on a cloud!
We headed out early one Sunday morning for a walk and some brunch, and I was keen to see if my new shoes could stick the pace. (For all his little short legs Ernie is a speedy one!)
welcome to hillsborough!
I’ve lived in this area for most of my life and, although we’re a little more country based now, I still very much consider it my home. The lovely thing about a small village is the community that centres around it. From the bakery to the optician, the local florist to the deli, there is a real sense of knowing and being known too. It’s a really special little place, and no moreso than in all its Autumn glory.
start at the church…
You can’t miss this first landmark at the bottom of Main Street. Over three hundred and fifty years old, it is the centre point of village life. The grounds are open seven days a week and accessible as a route from the main shopping hub into the fort and forest park. I often walk Ernie this way, and it is stunning in every single season. We have pictures of the kids on this driveway in a heavy Winter snowfall and it is one of my very favourites. The church bells ring on the hour too (and longer on Sundays!) and it is really beautiful to hear.
up the drive to the fort!
One of the historic houses of Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Fort lies at the edge of the forest park, and faces the castle across the road. It’s not in use today, but its grounds are perfect at all times of year. Our kids love running up and down the ramparts in Summer, and we’ve often brought picnics to the lawn too. In Spring the cherry blossom along here is something else. It is so peaceful and one of my very favourite spots.
I couldn’t even count how many times I have walked around this park in my lifetime. I know every route and path by heart, and now Ernie does too! It’s a well known spot for feeding the ducks (beware of the swans though, they can be particularly aggressive, especially in Spring when they are nesting) and perfect for kids that like to go off road and explore. In Autumn the colours are incredible too, and if you can catch it early in the morning or at dusk, you will almost certainly have the whole place to yourself.
Perhaps the most overlooked of the things to see, but one of my very favourites nonetheless. There are not many villages in Northern Ireland that are quite so picturesque, and home to some of the prettiest buildings. Get off Main Street (which is stunning in itself!) and head to the back lanes for quaint little cottages and ivy covered gable walls. Especially beautiful at this time of year and also around Christmas when home owners pull out all the stops with pretty wreaths and lights.
and to refuel…
From pubs to restaurants to cafes, Hillsborough definitely has it sussed on the eating out front. One of our favourites (with outside seating too. Perfect when the pup is with us!) is The Owl and Pussycat on the outskirts, close to the Village Centre information office. It’s delicious at all times of day but especially if you are in the market for some breakfast or brunch. Try the Huevos Rotos – little fried potatoes with salsa, chorizo and a fried egg on top. It’s out of this world! The coffee there is really good too.
Very thankful to have opportunity to spend a morning in this place we love so much. Even though I have such a passion for new places and new experiences, there really is no place quite like home.
**Thank you so much to FitFlop for partnering with me on this post. All words, images, opinions and love of comfy shoes is entirely my own.**