Kelly Hargie writes about a mountaineering adventure in the Mourne Mountain range with her three young sons

Our faces tingled, numb from the biting cold air. We silently padded back towards the car, exhausted from the effort that had been exerted in our endeavour to reach the summit. It is New Year’s Day and we have just completed our first hike of a brand-new year – a trek to the top of Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in the magical Mourne Mountain range in Northern Ireland. We decided as a family several years ago that we would start out each new year doing the thing we love most of all; getting out into the mountains for some quality family time and immersing ourselves in the wonderful natural world which surrounds us.

As we wearily meander through the forest on the lower levels of Donard, the carpet of crisp leaves crunches rhythmically underfoot. The snow-capped summit we left behind had stretched us and challenged us like never before and our bodies were well and truly fatigued. I look at my 3 sons, aged 7, 9 and 12, their faces gleaming in the low light of descending twilight and I feel immensely proud of their stamina and determination of mind.