Hi all, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my evolution when it comes to walking and my general outlook on the outdoors. It may be an odd thing to focus on but I’ve been working night shifts this last week so I have been passing time deep in thought. It is just a general feeling about where I have come from and how my views have changed over the last 7-8 years.
I spent a lot of time in the Lake District as a child, We used to holiday with friends of the family in the north western area of the Lakes around Cleater Moor. Ennerdale water and Eskdale are wedged solidly in my mind and I look back with fond memories of my time there. I always thought that I loved the mountains, I loved being outdoors in general and while growing up we were never indoors. We would be out from dawn until dusk on our bikes, playing in trees and generally enjoying the hell out of life. Then after school the need to drive kind of took over and the freedom of having a car ment that we never walked anywhere at all 🙂
If I think about it I can pin point a moment in the last 10 or so years where I knew I wanted to ditch the car and go off walking. It was while watching the opening sequence in the film Braveheart… Mel Gibson is stood atop a huge hill looking out along a Glen in a North Western corner of Scotland. I was in Australia at the time visiting my father and I knew when I returned to the UK I needed to go and stand there and see that view for myself, or at least something just like that.
When I returned home I hit the internet and begun planning the trip, my friend Howie and I kited out the car and headed north. it was to be a tour of Scotland.. Seeing the Filming locations from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Driving to John O’Groats and eventually ending it all with a climb/walk up to the top of Ben Nevis to hopefully see that view I was craving. I suppose you could say that it was my first actual “Walk”. I’d never really been on a walk/hike like this before and it was that first foray into the mountains that got me hooked.
When we returned home we basically went mad buying everything we thought we needed, reading magazines and generally thinking of nothing else but when the next trip was going to happen. I kind of got it in my head that a walk wasn’t a walk unless it was somewhere epic, big, high, bleak or more specifically.. in the Lake District or Scotland. I think this was down to having read a particular magazine.. it was basically geared at the folk who live in cities and get the train to the mountains at the weekend and have limitless amounts of money. We were regular guys with regular jobs and aspiring to own all the tents, jackets etc that cost way way too much.
The reason I have chosen to write this post is that I feel my opinions on walking, camping and being outdoors have changed a lot in the last year or so. I think everyone goes through the process of buying things, then realising that they either aren’t needed, aren’t sufficient or were just a waste of money. I suppose I’m at the level where I feel I have fine tuned my gear so to speak and don’t feel the need to buy any more. I have bought some bloody terrible things over the years, I wont name any brand names but I have certainly paid the price and learnt my lesson the hard way when it comes to quality. We certainly learned the hard way during our first West Highland Way adventure when our cheap gear let us down.
Kit aside… My general view on the outdoors has changed for the better. I live on the border of the Peak District but back in the early days I didn’t feel like it was a “Proper” walking destination. As i said earlier, having took the views of a certain magazine and also a few online forums I felt like a walk wasn’t a walk unless it was in the Lake District or Scotland. now days however having ventured out more and more into the great landscape of the Peak District my view couldn’t be more different.
I have developed a great love of the Peak District in the last 4-5 years, I have spent a lot of time tramping through bogs and enjoying the glorious heather topped moors to the point where I now feel very protective over it and despise those publications that still ignore its beauty due to its lower stature when it comes to hills.
I’ve come to appreciate my surroundings more, Finding the beauty of Derbyshire ever more appealing with every walk I do and new routes I discover. I suppose my main point is that although I do love Scotland, Wales & the Lakes. I now feel like a walk is a walk no matter where I choose to go. Every little wander can be an adventure in itself no matter how near or far from home it is. That… I suppose is my reason for writing this post.
I really do feel like walking has changed my life for the better and my thirst for adventure grows stronger the more time I spend outdoors. I’m just so glad I discovered walking when I did. This may be a cheesy way of ending but I can’t resist it.. I will leave you with this line from The legendary Mr Tolkien.. Or more specifically Bilbo Baggins.. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”