My first blog entry of 2016 and first of all may I wish you all a very happy, healthy and blessed 2016! May it bring you everything you wish for.
The end of the year is always a good time to review the last year and think about the new year to come, a blank sheet of paper to be filled with……what? Well, we will come to that later but what of 2015?
It’s been another good year for walking – a shade under 2,000 miles covered in the 52 weeks and all very enjoyable. The type of walking seems to have changed, especially in the winter where there is much more tramping through water and mud than there used to be, but hey, that’s life……and I am not one to be put off by a bit of surface water……though a return to nice cold, frosty winters would be welcome 🙂 . I have to say at this point though that I feel very much for those who live further north and who have been flooded out so many times again!
The highlight of the year in terms of walking was surely the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk that I completed in May. Over 200 miles of the most superb scenery imaginable, crossing three National Parks from St Bees on the west coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast. So what are my memories of that walk?
Well, the scenery of course but also the weather – cold frosty nights in the tent, freezing sleet whilst crossing the Pennines, heavy rain, strong winds, bogs and surface water, and beautiful sunny days too (well I am British so the weather had to feature 🙂 )! But there are other things too – good company as this is a popular walk and there tends to be a good community feel to it, semi-wild camping (unfortunately the weather precluded wild camping in the mountains), my first experience of bunkhouse and hostel accommodation. Oh, and walking across boggy moors in a split pair of boots! This truly was a memorable walk and despite all the problems caused by the Jet Stream blowing south, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
During the rest of the year, I have continued to walk the beautiful Dorset Coast as well as many routes farther inland. These are always a pleasure no matter how many times I walk them as they are always different. I think probably the Purbeck Way has featured highly this year as I have walked it several times. Perhaps Durdle Door as well – I walked there with my son and daughter on the night it was lit up by lighting engineers and arrived too late for the show due to traffic chaos in the village and a rescue helicopter that was trying to airlift an elderly man who had sadly had a heart attack on the cliff top. It was a memorable enough evening simply because I was doing a night hike with my children on my birthday.
Something else I have done a lot more during the year is to explore local paths accessible from my home without the need to get into the car. In part this came out of a photographic project I set myself which I called ‘Looking for the Local WOW Factor’. The fact is there are unlimited amazing sights on your doorstep if you really look for them and you do not need to travel to the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls in order to come out with the WOW word. This is perhaps one of the benefits of photography, and perhaps blogging as well, it makes you really look around to see things that you might otherwise just pass by.
One of the other things I have really enjoyed this year is my even more local walks with my son, Paul, and grandson. Sammy is only 2 so can’t yet walk distance, plus his sense of direction is ‘random’ 🙂 but we explore local woodlands or the beach with Sam acting as leader and Paul and I acting as sherpas, usually both finishing up with handfuls, and pocketfuls, of sticks, stones, seashells, leaves and other paraphernalia that Sam collects on the way. We call it the Mountain Gazelle Club because little Sammy loves to climb over rocks and trees or anything else in fact 🙂 – mini mountains ! He loves it and so do we – these are very special and precious times spent with two of my favourite people and I treasure the memories.
One of the good things about 2015 is that my ankles have continued to hold up ok even whilst backpacking the C2C with a 20kg pack. They do create problems at times but not enough to stop me walking so the arthritis is not worsening too quickly for which I am thankful.
Another highlight of the year was the visit by the BBC Countryfile team who wanted me to give them a guided tour of some Dorset Holloways with a view to appearing on the programme. Unfortunately it hasn’t been filmed yet but hopefully in 2016…..
I don’t know if you make new year resolutions? I don’t because they are psychologically doomed to failure because they are often knee-jerk reactions to over indulging during the Christmas period. However, I do review my life regularly and plan changes that I would like to make in the future. This applied particularly when I retired as I didn’t want to just ‘drift’. I went through this process in November 2014 and one of the things I listed was to make more of my garden.
Prior to that it was pretty much lawn and shrubs with a line of large Leylandii along the bottom fence. These were becoming increasingly difficult to keep in check and they were also draining all the goodness out of the soil, not to mention keeping the garden in shade, meaning that I couldn’t grow much. So I made a plan for the garden and have pursued that throughout 2015 and I now have a conifer free garden, a raised vegetable bed, a potting shed, a water butt – in fact, everything I need for a productive kitchen garden.
Add to that the start of my new foraging interest plus pickling and preserving, and a bit of cooking, and its been a productive year.
So what about the coming year? As I have said, I don’t set new years resolutions but in December I did review the plan I prepared 15 months ago to see if I was on track or if variations were needed. Predominantly I am on track so it will be more of the same but with some additions.
Walking and everything outdoors/nature of course is still high on the list and I have already started to think about which end to end walk I would like to do in May. The shortlist at the moment includes the West Highland Way plus an extension possibly to take in Ben Nevis, St Columba’s Way which is an old pilgrimage route running across Scotland from the island of Iona to St Andrews on the east coast, or possibly the Wainwright Coast to Coast again – yes, I enjoyed it that much!
One the things I have also included is more creativity outside of photography. Many many years ago I used to paint in oils but I moved away from that when photography took over. Over the last year I have dipped into a bit of sketching again but I would like to develop that more in 2016 and follow other artistic pursuits.
There is far more on my list but I will not bore you with more save to say that I would like to review this blog and what I, and you, want to get from it. I set up a Facebook page in 2015 and I share pictures regularly on that and I have seen some growth in that and the blog page but does the style or content need to change to make it more interesting?
If you have any thoughts, please do send me a message as your feedback would be very welcome.
Thanks so much dear friends for all your interest, likes and comments over the last year and I hope you will all have a fantastic 2016.
Your friend The Dorset Rambler
I HAVE NOW SET UP A FACEBOOK PAGE FOR THE DORSET RAMBLER AND THERE IS A LINK ABOVE. THIS IS TO BRING TOGETHER MY THREE PASSIONS OF DORSET, WALKING/THE OUTDOORS, AND PHOTOGRAPHY. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THESE OR YOU ENJOY MY BLOG, PLEASE DO ‘LIKE’ MY FACEBOOK PAGE.
If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is http://www.yarrowphotography.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.
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