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Girl Gone Wild: ‘My life was full of materialistic objects, but I was empty inside’

After years working in London, Mel McDermott was struggling in the depths of depression and was self-harming. Determined to find a new way of life, she headed for the hills, and today runs Galz Gone Wild, a hiking group that connects women to the outdoors — and helped her to save herself

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Mel McDermott, founder of the Galz Gone Wild hiking group

Mel McDermott, founder of the Galz Gone Wild hiking group

Mel McDermott pictured in London

Mel McDermott pictured in London

Mel McDermott

Mel McDermott

Mel McDermott enjoying a hike

Mel McDermott enjoying a hike

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Mel McDermott, founder of the Galz Gone Wild hiking group

I have passed this stop sign almost a hundred times. It’s the same as any other stop sign in Ireland. They’re all identical in shape, size and colour. But this one, just as the walking trail comes to the Glenmalure Lodge in Co Wicklow, is different. My good friend Madeline has just run up to it and rapped it repeatedly with her hiking pole, cheering and applauding me on. I’ve been here before, and had to leave the trail in pain. But today, I’m going to pass this sign, with sheer grit. And instead of stopping, as it commands, I am going to finish what I started: The Wicklow Way.

Ten years ago, I left Ireland to pursue a career in retail management in London. I ended up, as so many of us do, following a career that I really had little interest in. Life is so fast-paced in London that you rarely get an opportunity to think, “Do I actually want to be here doing this?”


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