This year was always going to begin with an air of uncertainty, whether we went in to Lockdown in the UK or not. How long will it last for? Will these restrictions remain in place for the summer?
For reasons like this, I’m finding it hard to properly plan for 2021 – as much as I want to do this, so that I have something to look forward. So, instead of writing a very definite ‘plan’, I’m going to share some of my “intentions” for the twelve months ahead.
The Lake District
I feel as though this was has to go at the top of my list for 2021. Whatever else may happen, I had to (finally) see the Lake District for myself this year. It’s not a trip I’d risk with restrictions in place but, having been a proper walker now for more than eight years, it seems a bit daft that I haven’t already been.
A couple of years ago, a small group of us were talking about a Scotland trip – pencilled in for 2020, at the time… We haven’t all done Ben Nevis but would like to, along with the CMD Arete, Ring of Steall and more. I’ve not been any further north than Yorkshire and so, it would be another plus for me.
With things the way they are in the UK right now, it’s hard to say how likely this one could be for 2021.
I’ve never properly “hiked” in another country. I know a number of people who’ve been to places like Macchu Picchu, Kilamanjaro and even Everest Base Camp. I had a quiet idea last year to tackle Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains of Morrocco – even undertaken through an expedition company, it is far more affordable than some of the others I’ve mentioned.
But again, this one is clouded in doubt by the global pandemic. On top of that, we have the fiasco of England leaving the European Union and whatever might happen next with our passports.
The Cleveland Way
In 2018, I completed The Ridgeway National Trail, In 2019, I walked the South Downs Way. For 2020, I had a few ideas in mind – including the Cotswold Way and Two Moors Way – but the highlight was always going to be the Cleveland Way.
Instead, I drove to the other side of Yorkshire and spent a week in the Dales (without any regrets). My kit is pretty much ready. My fitness may need some attention, nearer the time. If I attempt any long-distance trail this year, it’ll have to be this loop around the North York Moors.
It is also possible that I could look at ticking off the Cotswold Way in stages, when restrictions allow.
Not once, did I use my backpacking tent in 2020. I had ideas for local (illegal) wild camps… But the fear and anxiety convinced me otherwise. I could’ve gone to Dartmoor for one long weekend, but for a horrid weather forecast.
When overnight stays are allowed… I’d like to have another go at wild camping, having only done it once so far on the South Downs Way – and that was borne mostly from necessity.
I’ve been to Shropshire and I’ve spent a lot of time walking in parts of Wales. But I’ve often overlooked Herefordshire, almost between the two. There are hills and woodland that I’ve not seen with my own eyes. It is barely a ninety-minute drive from home.
Crossing over the border in to Wales, I could even stretch my exploration in to Radnorshire, the Elan Valley and the Cambrian Mountains.
This is currently my “local getaway” suggestion. One I feel is more likely to happen than a trip north of the border, if I’m honest.
South West Coast Path
It’s been well over a year since I last left the SWCP down in Lynmouth. From my next walk heading west, I’ll know I’ll have the Valley of the Rocks to discover and there’s a great section around North Devon that I’ve certainly never seen for myself.
The Coleridge Way
My friend Anna is probably re-reading the title of this way – as neither of us know quite how to correctly pronounce ‘Coleridge’! This fifty-ish mile trail is a fairly local one and we’ve talked about walking it together, over a series of day walks.
In the east, where we’ll begin; it leaves Nether Stowey to cross (or part-circumnavigate) the Quantock Hills. Then crossing the Brendon Hills, on to Exmoor and, as with several other trails, this one ends on the coast path in Lynton. Or Lynmouth? I always forget.
Kit, Gear… The Important Stuff!
I’m pleased to be able to say that I truly don’t ‘need’ anything more at the moment. Down the line, I would like a new tent for car-based camping (something more wind-resistant, a bit smaller and easier to store in a small flat) but that can wait until the late spring.
When it comes to the idea of backpacking (May? September? Who knows.), I may seek out a new pair of trail shoes, having preferred these before. I have enough pairs of boots(!) at the moment but, aside from my running shoes, I don’t know how I’d feel about wearing “unnecessary” boots on a multi-day walk.
Running A Marathon???
I did start running in May 2020. Lockdown (1.0) leant me the excuse – along with a personal dissatisfaction in the availability of doorstep walks – but I don’t know how far I want to take this. I started it mainly to help my fitness and aid my mental wellbeing. I am continuing to run through the winter – but these dark evenings and forcing me on to the roads and pavements, which then leads to shin splint-like pain and suffering.
I like the idea of running a 10km, one day… I can run about 6km now without stopping, as long as I’ve prepared for it. I have no interest in torturing myself with a full marathon! Don’t ask me about a half until I’ve at least done a 10k!!
Writing is something I am passionate about and still believe I can do well. I used to write for a woodworking magazine but I’ve not really seen my own work published in the outdoors world, away from my own blog(s).
Nearly three years ago, I walked all eighty-seven miles of The Ridgeway (and a bit more). It was my first long-distance walk, multi-day hike, National Trail and I’d always intended to share my story in a book… But I’ve not yet seen it through. The unwritten draft sits on my desktop. I don’t think I’ve opened that file in over a year. If I didn’t take the opportunity of being on furlough last year then, I’m not sure how I’m going to motivate myself to dedicate the time, sit down, write it and get it published.
In addition to that, people on my group walks are often saying that I should write my own book on the local walks I do. I like the idea but, with this being an alien world to me, I wouldn’t know where to begin to start.
Another idea might be to publish my routes on a website… Make money from advertising, sit back and have an easy rest of my life….. But I know very little about website building, CSS and all of that. I could at least learn.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few ideas (group walks and walk leader qualifications, spring to mind!) but this’ll certainly do for now!
Thanks for reading.