I got out into the hills a bit, and went for a few local walks but wild camps were a-none. Some of the walks have been posted on this blog and you may have already read them. My youngest son Ashley was born in January, when my eldest daughter Hope was just 20 months old. To leave my wife with these little ones, and to leave them too, has been difficult and would have been more selfish than my conscience would allow. Not to mention the fact that the funds required for a weekend of free-of-charge walking are increasing with every percentage point the chancellor slapped on a couple of pints of diesel.
I managed to get a myself involved in a charity walk around the Yorkshire Three Peaks which was a challenge for sure, but not so much so as it might have been a decade ago. The event itself repulsed me but I had a view to get my two good pals - soon to be first-time parents - into the hills a couple of times before the wee one was to arrive. It worked, and I hope that it won't be too long before they are all back on the trail, big-wheeled buggy in tow. No wilderness night under silnylon here.
And I got up to Cumbria to help Den finish off his Wainwright round in September too. That was a couple of brief dashes on a very wet weekend which although satisfying, and salubrious, and a tad drunken, didn't involve any camping in the hills.
Many a local (for local, read East Anglian) walk was enjoyed, long mornings in the field margins, bridleways and studlands. Many a prime stealthy overnight spot was surveyed. None were used. I arrived home after each, refreshed and wonderfully tired, as every walk I take leaves me, but my still became low, and today I think I reached the valley bottom.
The period of Christmas soaked through me and dripped out the other side, most of it I enjoyed and the rest I endured. The lack of outdoors time had me selfishly grumpy. Itchy. Tetchy. Unpalatable.
My wife came to the rescue today. She gave me the most fantastic gift that the whole of the festive season failed to provide. 4 passes for overnighters leading up to TGO Challenge 2012.
About 18 months ago I began reading about TGO Challenge, and after a time, the gravitational pull of the associated blogosphere and mostly the compulsion created by Bob Cartwright, Andy Howell and Shirley Worral on their podcasts had me posting my application the moment it landed on my doorstep. I got number 17 on the standby list, and in a week or so I will find out if that number has reduced.
I am assured that this number will reduce sufficiently so as to ensure a place on the Challenge and I am planning as if it were so, as you will have seen if you follow my post both here, on Twitter and occasionally on the Challenge message board.
In her gift, my wife has provided the liberation of days and nights outdoors. One in Jan, One in Feb, One in March and One in April. Each will involve at least a single night in the cocoon of my Tarptent and grant me the tiny fix of the wilds that I have discovered I need to remain buoyant in spirit. Doug Scott could not have put it more eloquently when he was asked why he climbed 'because I get grumpy when I don't'. What a lucky boy I am!
So, out with the old. 2011 - The Year of No Wild Camps. And in with the New. 2012 - The Year of the Challenge.
I'll leave you with a couple of photos which bring back fond memories of 2011 as it seems is customary among similar pages. I hope you like them, and I look forward to seeing you on the hills this year, and maybe on the Challenge too.
|The Langdale Pikes from Blea Tarn|
|Enroute to Buttermere - Rannerdale Knotts in the middle-distance|
And one of my favourites from 2010 as well - I couldn't resist. Happy New Year!!!
|2010 - My pal Den climbing up Allt Clach nan Taillear in July!!|