Monthly Archives: June 2016

LEJOG – Final Thoughts

I have to start by apologising for the format of this post. I’m typing this on my iPhone and the app is just not good enough to create and edit posts on the go.

So….I started this whole adventure back in October and can’t believe it’s arrived. Out of the ashes of a pretty shitty period of my life came a decision to change things. I no longer wanted to sit behind a desk working 9-5. I wanted a job I enjoyed and made me happy. I set out a rough plan and how to achieve it, which helped me focus.

I would improve or learn new skills, get outside more and start on the path to getting my Mountain Leader qualification. The plan has evolved through time but the end goal has remained the same.

Being an introvert, I also wanted to challenge myself and get out my comfort zone. Then I came up with the idea to walk from Lands End to John O’Groats.

Peoples reaction was mixed but mostly “are you crazy?” Over time they soon realised I was serious and it was the right thing for me. I wanted a challenge and walking 1,300 miles up the country would be that.

I then threw in some training walks. The Yorkshire Three Peaks, Hadrians Wall and Reivers Way. I had planned on walking the Coast to Coast but injury and common sense put an end to that.

All the while I was planning these things, I was working on other things. Learning to kayak, climb and scrambling. Attending various courses, getting out, meeting people and making new friends. Rather than continue to shut myself down I put myself out there and have enjoyed every minute.

When I’m outdoors my heart fills up, my head becomes clear and I breath in clear air. I’m consumed with what I’m doing and where I am. In awe of nature and what the outdoors has to offer to life, my life.

I admit I feel a little nervous but my excitement is keeping any fear away. A whole new world is opening up in many ways. In the next few months I’ll learn more about myself mentally and physically and get a whole new outlook on life. I might also go a little crazy.

When this adventure is all done and real life sets in I already have so much to look forward to. I’ve made sure the post-adventure blues wont kick in.

I know I’ll have to find another 9-5 for a while to fund the next stage but come next year I’m gunning for my ML and spending more time in the mountains. I have a few ideas for shorter adventures but nothing on this scale. And also the blossoming of a new relationship which is an adventure in itself. All these things I’m excited for.

So this is it. Wish me luck. X

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Wild Night Out

On July the 16th Explorers Connect are asking people to have an adventure. Whether it’s a night camping out, walking in the hills or even a multi day event, they are encouraging you to be part of a community of people to get outdoors and have a Wild Night Out. The idea is to promote your adventure and raise money for The Youth Adventure Trust who help and encourage disadvantaged kids to get outdoors.

It doesn’t have to be a big bold adventure. If you live in a town or city and can’t get out to the wild then camp in your back garden and cook marshmallows, go for a walk along the beach and take a moonlight swim, take a walk in the woods, build a den and play hide and seek, spend a day on your bikes exploring the many wonderful cycle paths we have in the country and, if you have children, get them outside to enjoy it as well.

Being outdoors can have a massive impact on your life (as I’ve written about before) and I think society has changed since I was a kid. Far too much emphasis is placed on doing well at school, being safe and not going out playing in the wild. Kids should be outside exploring, using their imagination and enjoying the outdoors, not stuck inside in front of a TV playing computer games or binging on box sets.

I have written about The Youth Adventure Trust before and, if you want to know more about this wonderful charity, then visit their website. And if you do get out on the 16th then post photos on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #wildnightout. If you can’t get out then take some time to visit the website and make a donation. For the price of a pint you can still help and make a difference to a kids life.

I’m walking LEJOG to raise awareness of this charity and will personally be in Youlgreave having my own Wild Night Out. What will you be doing?

Carlisle Adventure

It was pointed out (in jest I have to add) that I appear to have done Carlisle a disservice in an off hand comment made in my Hadrian’s Wall blog post. I’m currently living in Hexham, which has a short train route to Carlisle, so with some time to kill and my shin splints feeling better I took up the challenge and jumped on a train to explore Carlisle.

Before I went I did some research and found there is actually quite a bit to do. A castle, an art gallery and an urban adventure park (with aerial trekking, a zip line and climbing wall) as well as the Solway Aviation Museum and Watchtree Nature Reserve just outside town. Also, in nearby Brampton, there is the Birdoswald Roman Fort (part of Hadrian’s Wall obviously) Lanercost Priory and the Talkin Tarn Country Park (offering orienteering courses, environmental education and watersports like kayaking, sailing and open water swimming)

I opted to to visit Carlisle Castle (I love castles) and pop into the massive Bookcase second hand book shop (I’m a sucker for these)

The castle was built by William Rufus (William the Conqueror’s son) around 1093 on the site of an old Roman fort. Located on the border between England and Scotland, it was built to keep England secure against the Scottish. The many skirmishes meant it was one of the most under siege castles in the UK and changed hands a number of times for 700 years.

It was the temporary prison for Mary Queen of Scots in 1567 and soldiers loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie were imprisoned there during the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. That Rebellion, and subsequent failure, marked the end of the castle as a need to protect the border because the countries were united as Great Britain shortly after.

Inside the castle grounds there is also Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life so I went in. It tells the story of Cumbria’s County Infantry Regiment through various audio/visual and diorama displays. It was fascinating to see how warfare has changed from when the regiment was formed in the late 19th century, following the wars they served in up to present day. 

After a morning at the castle I went into the nearby Bookcase bookshop. It is one of the UK’s largest independent bookshops. Located in the heart of the historic quarter, it occupies two old georgian houses with thirty rooms over four floors full of books. All kinds and genres. I walked in and was blown away by the range, the staff were very helpful and it had a great ambience. The climbing/walking/mountaineering section was pretty extensive and I think I did pretty well to walk out with nothing other than a few OS maps.

So I stand corrected. Carlisle does have a lot to offer, I enjoyed my time there and now think I owe someone dinner.