Back in January, I set out some of my intentions for the year and one of the biggest was to take on the challenge of walking the Cleveland Way; a 106-mile long National Trail. But with Covid-19 having affected everyone in some way this summer, I’d made the decision to postpone my next long-distance walk until 2021.
In this post, I share my reasons why and talk about alternative plans for the rest of 2020.
Until May 2021
Please don’t get me wrong – I am still very interested in walking the Cleveland Way and mutli-day backpacking in general [I’m trying very hard to not use Americanised terms like “thru hiking” – yuck!]. Originally, I had postponed this walk until September. But now, I realise this could be my only chance to get away in the better weather of 2020.
If I was to stick with the plan of tackling the Cleveland Way next month, I’d feel as though I wasn’t doing it entirely for myself. A part of me would be heading in to it for the benefit of my followers on social media; to meet the “demands” (I know there is no real demand) of my YouTube supporters. It was becoming less about me and more about the pressures I was putting upon myself to try and appease others. Of course, I know that much of this is only in my own head.
As far as kit and packing preparations are concerned, I’m pretty much there. My fitness isn’t as far off as it was in May and aside from some concerns over footwear, I would otherwise have been ready to go next month. Instead, I’m giving myself more time and looking forward to May 2021.
I’m not a great fan of going away anywhere during the school holidays. I’ll risk July and possibly August (the month where it usually always rains) if other people are involved. But I much prefer to travel outside of these peak periods. Not only will many of the crowds have dispersed but accommodation can be slightly cheaper and, in terms of weather, it can remain warm and comfortable enough well in to October, now.
To the Yorkshire Dales!
I’ve decided that I’ll be heading to the Yorkshire Dales next month! I’ve booked a week off work and have acquired both Ordnance Survey maps for the National Park (arguably, the northern and western area would probably have been sufficient on its own).
Where I’ll be staying is still to be decided. Camping looks to be the most affordable option and I’ve narrowed my shortlist down to two options; both scoring very highly with their reviews on Pitchup; each one within earshot of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
It goes without saying then that, having never been to the Yorkshire Dales before, I’m very keen to tick off the Three Peaks (Ingleborough, Pen y Ghent and Whernside). But I won’t be doing them all in one epic twenty-five mile day! Currently, I’ve broken each down in to three separate walks – regardless of which camp site I choose, I should be able to reach two of them without needing to move my car. I also feel that a visit to Malham Cove should be obligatory, although I’ll have to drive a short distance.
Beyond that, I’m about to start researching walks via The Walking Englishman (an excellent resource that I’ve used before) and Fred from Two Dogs and An Awning has given me a heads up on some of his past adventures there.
What About Covid-19?
We’re all sick of hearing about it; talking and reading the latest fear and speculation. Sadly, it’s unlikely to go away too soon and there is a very real risk that something could happen over the winter months.
I am very aware at the moment that parts of West Yorkshire are entering a localised for of Lockdown… Where people from one household are not allowed to visit others. Worst case scenario: this develops to the point where the county has to self-isolate from the rest of the UK; meaning that I cannot visit next month and neither can anyone living or staying there leave until the quarantine has been lifted.
My initial thought for this trip and time was to head to the Lake District. To get to Yorkshire is only a four hour drive from Weston-super-Mare, with the Lake District being only another hour or so. But, as you may have noticed a few months ago; the north-west suffered its own ‘spike’ in Covid cases and, with it having been so hecticly busy there during the school holidays… There is surely a chance that another could occur soon. I factor the Dales in as being of a lower risk – but we’ll have to wait and see.
Although I think people from England and Wales are now allowed to cross the border between nations, I remain somewhat committed to my ‘stay local’ approach that began at the end of March; now extending to a personal rule of ‘Stay in England’; at least for the time being.
I miss South Wales; the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains. I’ve thought about travelling to Herefordshire, crossing over to Radnorshire and then heading on to the Cambrian Mountains via the Elan Valley… All of which would probably be safe but, I am sticking to my own rule, for now.
October? November? December?
There is a slim possibility that I could be heading to the Lake District before Christmas – and probably in October, if it does happen. I have a friend who’s potentially interested in going with me, which would at least help to share the costs of warm and dry accommodation. It’s not something I’ve discussed with work and I haven’t even checked my outstanding balance of annual leave.
Around November/December, I would usually have the option of going away with my local Ramblers group for a long weekend. Currently, that appears to be very much off the cards. We have resumed group walking, albeit with Covid-related restrictions and rules in place. We cannot condone car sharing or the use of pubs and cafés after walks and so, it seems VERY unlikely right now, that we’d be able to make use of youth hostels and shared accommodation.
It could be a very long winter indeed, for that reason among others and I’m sure this is something that many could relate to. Depending on ‘what happens next’ following and after the pandemic, some of us may be stuck in a “living to work” lifestyle until the second quarter of 2021.
I hope I am over-estimating and exaggerating that last point. We’ll have to wait and see.