Posts tagged ‘walking’

August 23, 2013

Microadventure: a few lessons learnt.

I posted recently about Alistair Humphrey’s inspiring microadventures, and how I was planning to have ‘Micra’ Adventures. That plan was recently put into action with the first of what I hope will be many (tiny but nonetheless brilliant) adventures around our fair Isle.

We set off on our journey with a borrowed tent, not much specialist kit and little in the way of a plan. Which, naturally made  the whole thing far more exciting. Happily, the campsite we kind of thought we would end up in had a space for us, and so we spent the first night in the lovely Lake District before a morning spent walking up Castle Crag and then, after admiring the stunning lakeland scenery from the top, walking back down and eating giant cream teas. Splendid.

After a spot of shopping (for the amazing new jacket in the photo, which was in an equally amazing sale!), we then set off for Scotland, with a meandering drive through beautiful scenery. We pitched up somewhere outside Edinburgh – after a tiny worry about finding somewhere to stay, but happily it seems that wild camping is far less of a problem in Scotland, so we’d have been fine. Then we went onwards again to Aberdeen for a couple of days before coming home, via a walk up Clachnaben.

Climbing Clachnaben

At Clachnaben.

So, what did I learn?

Above and beyond, that I need to spend time outdoors. I need fresh air, exercise and a bit of freedom – I know, I’m making myself sound like a zoo animal or something, but it’s true. A few days away from the stresses of everyday life have given me a bit of spirit again.

I also learnt the following truths:

1: Adventure doesn’t have to happen in places far away, nor take up long periods of time. Adventure is waiting for me, to fill the tiny gaps in my life whenever I want it to happen.

2: Waiting for everything to be perfect means waiting too long. Thanks for my lovely family and friends, we were able to beg and borrow some kit, but for a larger part, we just made do with what we had, and hacked it to make it work.

3: Planning ahead means that I can be spontaneous later. So, knowing what I really need beforehand, what I can do without (see number 2 above) and, crucially, where it all is means I can pack up at the last minute and go!

Do you have micro adventures? Is there anywhere that you’d recommend for camping, walking, adventuring? I’d love to hear from you…

September 7, 2012

A Patch of Green

Last night, after tea, my husband announced that we should all go for a walk on the Valley. To a chorus of groans and calls for one more episode of Scooby Doo, he insisted. And, he was right. It was a glorious evening. We took our ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ football (a top quality piece of kit!), and walked through the grass paths of Primrose Valley to the playing fields where we ran about and played.

The photo I took at the end of our time there really does sum up how lovely it was, even though it’s somewhat rose-tinted through an Instagram filter.

When we think of the great outdoors, we may think of the National Parks, which for me means the Yorkshire Dales or the North York Moors. We think of beautiful and protected landscapes. Those are the jewels in the crown of our national, natural environment. And rightly so. But I would argue that they are not the green spaces that make the most difference. What makes the most difference to people is green space on our doorstep, close enough to where we live for it to form part of our everyday lives and not just be part of a special occasion or to see en route to the coast. This, proven to have positive effects on both our physical and mental health, can be sadly lacking in less wealthy areas. People are too scared to use green spaces, or they’re just not used to the idea that time spent outdoors, just for the sake of a walk or run about in the fresh air, can be great.

When I posted my photo, people commented on how perfect it looked. I blame my use of Instagram for that. It’s not perfect. There is litter, people let their dogs use it as a toilet around the edges, and yes, there can be the odd bout of anti-social behaviour (and here isn’t the place for looking at the deeper causes of that).

But it’s also one of the reasons we wanted to live here. It’s a giant, often underused, patch of wild green space in the city. Thankfully it has a small committed band of volunteers working to keep it looking as good as it does. I love it here. And we’ll be back again after tea another day…

Where is your favourite patch of green space? Is there one close to where you live? I’d love to know…

September 12, 2011

Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge for Bliss

As part of my 35:35 Challenge and to raise some money for a special charity I climbed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks this weekend, with my lovely husband and my sister-and-brother in law. 26 miles of walking and climbing, with a total ascent of 5000m, this isn’t a challenge to be taken as lightly as I might have been taking it…

We arrived at Horton-in Ribblesdale in the early hours of Saturday morning, to be met by a full car park and lots of other walkers. Seeing everyone there, mostly supporting charities of their own, was very heart-warming, although did rather spoil any kind of feeling of being intrepid – it felt more like the walking equivalent of a motorway in rush hour. The light-hearted jolliness and chattering soon wore off, as we all set off to the first peak – Pen-Y-Ghent. Quite a shock to the system, as you start climbing as soon as you leave the village, this was the first point at which I started to question the wisdom of my decision! It felt like one minute I was still in bed and the next I was scrambling halfway up a giant hill. It progressed from a gentle ascent to a true scramble, holding onto the rock as you climbed. No wonder I was feeling somewhat  nauseous at that point. I was also really hot, as although the weather itself was still cool, climbing was making me warm in my thick waterproofs. Hence the red face in this photo, at the top of the first peak.

Pen-Y-Ghent peak

After the descent from Pen-Y-Ghent comes a long walk to the next peak, Whernside. It’s often quite boggy there, and so we walked along a stretch of the Pennine Way to avoid the worst of the bog! Approaching Whernside, we could see a long line of tiny ant-like people walking along the path and up to the ridge. The climb to the top of Whernside seemed to take forever as you have to walk around to the right before ascending, and so we could see the peak a lot sooner than we actually reached it. There was still quite a bit of traffic, although by this point people were stopping for rest breaks and in some cases stopping entirely. In truth, it was a good job that I was doing this challenge for Bliss, as it gave me a reason to keep going when otherwise I might have been quicker to give up. That, and the experience of completing the Lyke Wake Walk (42 miles across the North York Moors, taking 17 hours) the previous year,  which definitely brought to life Churchill’s famous quote ‘If you’re going through Hell, keep going’…

Finally we reached the summit of Whernside.

At the peak of Whernside

A shorter descent from Whernside, and after a nice break for a drink, we set off for Ingleborough, which was looming dark and cloud-covered in the distance like some semblance of Mount Doom, despite the fact that where we had actually stopped was lovely and sunny! Hence my ill-fated decision to leave my waterproof coat off…

We started off walking towards Ingleborough National Nature Reserve towards the peak of Ingleborough, but as we walked along, I could see no sign of a recognisable path to the top. I could see a steep waterfall running down the side of the hill in front of me, and as we got closer, still at this point in sunshine, I realised that the steep waterfall was in fact, the path. With a true waterfall next to it, the steps of the climb were running with brown water from the top. The crowds of people at the start had really thinned out to a hardy few who were going to finish this challenge, no matter what.

We reached the bottom of the real climbing part, and David put on his waterproof. Still warm and, after putting on and taking off my thick coat one too many times, I decided to leave it off for the climb to the top. Bad decision. Very bad decision. We started climbing, very slowly, pausing either for breath or for the person in front of us and using the rock to hang onto. Then it started to rain. Obviously, I didn’t have the chance to put my coat on as there was no way I was going to mess about taking my rucksack off halfway up the sheer, slippery rock to try to get my coat out. By the time we were close to the summit, we were walking up what had rapidly become a true waterfall of rain water. I was soaked to the skin, and the wind was driving the rain into my face. We finally got to the top and then, seeking the Trig point, had to walk along the top, barely able to see, and then stop for a photo (“let’s get the formalities over with’)  before I finally got to put my coat on!

Ingleborough peak

Leaving Ingleborough with a huge sigh of relief that all three peaks had been reached, we then had quite a long walk back to the official clocking in cafe – where we needed to be back within 12 hours to qualify for 3 Peaks of Yorkshire Club membership – which I was determined not to miss out on, having done so much to get to that point.

We walked on, until we finally reached the end, clocked out with only 15 minutes to spare ( but a very important 15 minutes!) and we’d done it! A quick clothing change for our final photo, then off to get some very well deserved chips and a cup of tea.

Still smiling at the end!

I have to admit, I cried tears of relief and exhaustion at the end. Once I was sitting in the car, wearing a nice dry outfit, and looking forward to my cup of tea, I was struck by how much of a true challenge this had been for me, as someone who has to fit in exercise alongside a full time job and two small children. I’m glad that I’ve done it, and very glad that I’ve raised some money for a well deserving charity, but for now, I am hanging up my walking boots!