Intentions for 2021

Some of my indefinite “plans” for what currently looks to be an uncertain 2021.

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.

Scotland

Image of Dartmoor, not Scotland!

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.

Foreign Travel

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.

Wild Camping

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.

Herefordshire

Image of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.

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

Chesil Beach from Portland, Dorset.

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

View of Minehead and the SWCP from the Quantock Hills.

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!

Vango Ark 200+ – my current “car camping” tent.

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???

Merrell Barefoot running shoes.

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!!

Getting Published

Heading up Pen y Gadair Fawr in the Black Mountains.

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.

March 2020. Days before Lockdown 1.0.

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.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

8 thoughts on “Intentions for 2021”

  1. Hi Olly. Stay positive you may well still get to go to the Lake District 2021, probably September time, also if you were thinking of doing the Scottish Highlands at a later date it might pay you to get a cheap Easyjet flight from Bristol to Glasgow or Edinburgh and then hire a small economical car so you can continue your journey to the Highlands. But I wouldn’t travel it alone as it can be pretty remote should a problem arise.
    Anyway good luck, I hope eventually we will get lockdown relief and you can proceed with you travels.

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  2. I started running in lockdown too. I’ve become a bit addicted to it now. I was entered in the Big Bear 50k ultra in October, but it got canceled. Hopefully, before summer I will get one under my belt.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I own a few to be honest. Currently running in Salomon Sense Ride 3. Also have some Inov-8 Talon, SpeedCross 5 and a few others. I burn through them pretty quick. What about you, what you running in?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve had my share of walking boots over the years (up to three pairs at once) so can certainly relate!

        For running, I’ve only got Merrell’s Bare Access barefoot-style shoes. But my runs are only short, currently and often on hard ground at this time of year.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. There are so many brands to choice from now. I’ve tried Altra, they felt pretty nice but didnt last long. I also have 2 pairs of Inov8 Mudclaw – big grip and lugs on them, they are more for fell running or field runnig when the terrain is very boggy and muddy. Used them a couple of time recently – lots of rain.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’ve heard good things about both brands and not too surprised to hear Altra don’t last – seems to be the way with a lot of lightweight and minimalist kit.

        I’ll keep Inov8 in mind for any future upgrades. They have quite arrange and appear to cater for all sorts.

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