Still barefootin’

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Dundrum Bay, County Down


At home I almost never wear shoes. I’m either in socks or barefoot. But recently I’ve been going further. Some people reading this post will think I’m a nut and they might have good reason to do so. After all, who in his or her right mind would wander up and down the beach barefoot in the winter? Ireland isn’t really a good place to go about unshod. It’s often too cold and wet.
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The Mourne Mountains

But this afternoon I did just that at Tyrella Beach. And on the Sunday before last I took my usual route from the Murlouhgh Nature Reserve down the beach to Newcastle’s Slieve Donard Hotel, and, yes, I was barefoot there too.

Now I should point out that these are two extraordinary cases. I took these barefoot trips on days that were about as mild as a winter’s day could be, when there was no rain, no snow and the temperature was about 9° or 10° centigrade. Also it was at low tide, which means I could walk over flat sand instead of crawling over shingles and rocks, which is what I often have to do at high tide.

The question still remains, though: why do I do it? There are two answers.

1) Because I can. Yes, I’m not getting any younger and I don’t know how much longer I’ll have the physical and mental strength to go on walking trips that can be as much as twenty-five kilometres. In the near future I could be in a job that takes up six days of the week and leaves me limp as a rag on the seventh day. I want to do all my walking while I still have youth on my side and plenty of spare time.

2) I enjoy it. I really do. I love the feeling of walking about without worrying about sand in my shoes or having to walk round large pools left behind by the tide. Besides, wet feet are easy to dry off; wet shoes and socks aren’t. I could come wearing wellies but they’re not much good for the long distance walks I take. And my feet need to breathe as the rest of my body does. After a ten-kilometre walk my feet would stink like billy-o.

And I’m not the only one with a predilection for going around barefoot. Here you can read about people in fiction and in real life who are more or less like me concerning footwear.

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