BOOM! Here Comes The…

And… we’re off! Having gotten smashed into the ground thanks to my customary winter (non-covid related) respiratory illness – something I have avoided for the last two years by upping my vitamin D and taking shilajit and ashwagandha – I have deliberately hit the road early in order to get a good start this year. My head is bursting at the seams with adventures I plan to have throughout spring and summer especially so I have resolved to be as ready as I will ever likely be.

Gear

To achieve my goals this year I have taken several productive steps. Firstly I bought a selfie stick for better video capture as you will hopefully see in my next video on YouTube, uploading as I write. Secondly I have started to actually use Komoot in conjunction with my Garmin Quatix watch. For those interested the Quatix is the same guts as the Fenix but with marine features added and a much more pleasing – to my eye – navy strap with brushed chrome bezel. Me being me I am already looking to upgrade and I am eyeballing the Garmin Enduro and its ridiculous battery life but that will be a purchase for next Christmas at the earliest, unless I am the lucky recipient of a windfall.

I have also bought a Garmin eTrex Touch 25 handheld GPS receiver. This may seem pointless as my watch does the same thing, however I have bought this because my bulbs are not what they used to be. During my most recent adventures I have caught myself pressing the screen right up to my nose just to be able to see it. The extra inch of screen space is very helpful.

I have also bought a ton of outdoor kit from the much-underrated Aldi. Seriously folks, their fitness clothing and thermals are remarkably well-priced and effective. If you want to buy it you need to get their app. It tells you what special buys are coming and when, and thus it all sells out rapidly.

I can now partake in many more winter hikes and some wild camps. In regard to the latter I am also now kitted out and ready to go this year. Last summer I was looking to do it but the only chance I got was during my aborted attempt to climb Helvellyn. This year I hope to get a night at Red Tarn in the shadow of Cumbria’s angriest fell.

Getting Started

On Christmas Day I dragged my sprogs over Pendle Hill. It is hardly a tough one to do but I had done it the day before as well without them. Additionally I climbed the Old Man of Coniston last week and a couple of days ago ascended most of Grisedale Pike, only abandoning after my companion was actually being lifted off the ground by the high winds.

I have commenced running too. In between the two gruelling winter hikes above I have done a couple of short two milers. Small steps, and I am hoping that the cold weather exposure will give me an advantage with endurance this summer.

Then There’s Barkley!

Hopefully my new hound, Barkley, a border collie, will pester me to get out too!

Barkley!

So things are afoot and what a summer of adventures is coming. In the meantime whilst you wait, check out my photographs from The Old Man of Coniston, all below.

Looking down from the river that drains from Lever’s Water
The path to the summit
The base of the climb, looking towards Coniston village
The summit
Channeling my inner Ansel Adams

Elterwater, Skelwith Force and Colwith Force: Conquered. Bonus: Lambs Oot!

This was a stunningly beautiful hike today. It was surprisingly strenuous exercise at times considering there are no peaks, fells or mountains on the trail. The scenery was breathtaking in parts, particularly the views of the Langdale Pikes and the two waterfalls along the route. For anyone wanting to wear out young children whilst also having plenty of opportunities to paddle, skim stones or indulge themselves in plain water fights then this is what we Lancastrians would refer to as a bobby dazzler. There are two cool stretches of forest, Elterwater itself, the aforementioned waterfalls and a few pretty bridges that all make for picturesque scenery. Of course, the beauty of the landscape makes for plenty of photographs, so they are below, along with the data from Strava. Click here for the GPX file and/or map for WikiLoc.

Photography

Langdale Tarn
Langdale Tarn

Lambs Oot!
Lambs Oot!

Dried Out Tree
Dried Out Tree

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Skelwith Force
Skelwith Force

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Langdale Tarn
Langdale Tarn

Lingmoor Fell, Right

Park Farm, Panorama
Park Farm, Panorama

Distant Lingmoor Fell
Distant Lingmoor Fell

Elterwater
Elterwater

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Strava Map

Elevation, Cadence, Pace and Heart Rate

Split Times

Nature and Mental Health

Being outside is great for your mental health. The evidence is growing, despite the fact that, to me at least, it seems intuitively so. Some of the best times of my life came. when I was most at peace were in Sweden, and specifically during the winter in Abisko National Park.

Mountains in Abisko. The blue hue was a beautiful optical effect

Natural beauty seems to have a profoundly restorative effect on the mental health and wellness of human beings. To commit to spending a good portion of one’s life outdoors is a transformative habit in which to engage oneself.

Frozen Lake in Abisko
Frozen Lake in Abisko

The whole world has stunning locations that are cheap and easy to reach. Below is Pirin Mountain, Bulgaria, where I hiked up to meet my friend snowboarding from the top. This trip cost me less than £200.

The Forest on Pirin Mountain
The Forest on Pirin Mountain

The Forest on Pirin Mountain

The beauty of the natural world is that it is everywhere, however. There is no need to travel far. One the the great things about living in England is how well preserved our countryside has been down the years.

Janet’s Foss in Malham, Yorkshire
Janet’s Foss in Malham, Yorkshire

In Lancashire where I live natural surroundings are a fifteen minute walk in any direction, the Yorkshire Dales a 45 minute drive away, and Cumbria around 90 minutes. It’s everywhere, all you have to do is look for it.

Double Rainbow by Pen Y Ghent
Double Rainbow by Pen Y Ghent

Hiking is free you know! It is also access to priceless sights and experiences.

Hawdraw Force

The most satisfying part of the hiking experience for me is when I arrive home and the kids and the dog fall asleep almost immediately and then do not stir all night! The last hiking season we did we used to take our hound and she would literally not move for two days after expeditions – such a great feeling. Obviously the whole day spent outdoors is fantastic and the feel good factor of having walked miles or climbed a mountain is great, as is the endorphin hit. It also feels like a day well spent and I can tell you now that no workout in the world that you will ever do can compare to the resistance exercise obtained climbing and scrambling over rocky fells and mountains. God that is seriously hard work, and your muscles will thank you for years.

The View from the Ascent of Ingleborough
The View from the Ascent of Ingleborough

The View from the Descent of Ingleborough
The View from the Descent of Ingleborough

The View From Pen Y Ghent
The View From Pen Y Ghent

The Whernside Viaduct
The Whernside Viaduct

So get outside and see the true beauty of the natural world.

Week in Review

Another week of incremental gains passes. Today was to be the day we climb Cat Bells fell in Cumbria but personal circumstances have put paid to that. Thankfully we got a beast of a hike in yesterday, ascending Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. Once the kids are older we are going to try to move over there. It’s such a beautiful place.

Losses and Gains

My swimming and running performance saw steady gains. One thing I will say is that I can definitely feel my age in the pool. This has become that little bit harder and I feel the work I have to do for sure. That being said, the gains are tangible. Yesterday I went through my wardrobe and set aside several pieces, sports jackets and blazers mainly, which I will donate to charity. I’ve gained so much muscle in the last fortnight that I can no longer get them over my shoulders. It has been noted by my good lady that I have changed substantially. She can hardly get her arms around my shoulders now. Add to that the fact that my swimming shorts are falling down rather easily whilst swimming – usually during tumble turns or when I push off from the side – and it’s clear that I’m getting somewhere.

Targets

I’m hoping to push my running into the four mile bracket and hit 1800 metres in the pool in order to prepare for an assault on the 2000 metre mark in the following week.

At some point I will have to decide whether to keep swimming relatively short intervals or to push for longer endurance swims. Previously I have always plumped for the latter, with limited weight loss success. Maybe I can do both. One distance swim and one interval soon would make for an interesting experiment.

What I’d love to do one day is open water swimming. Perhaps that’s something I can treat as a summit to be reached. I have always preferred being outside to indoor exercise. How on earth people have the patience for exercising in a gym is beyond me. I’ve tried it several times and it drives me crazy to be cooped up like that. If you enjoy that sort of thing them have at it. Enjoy your exercise and reward, I’m sure it does you good but I don’t really envy you at all.

Next week I also aim to get Cat Bells fell in the bag. As soon as the days are long enough we are looking to ascend Skiddaw. We live two hours away from Cumbria so the days are too short as yet for a seven hour climb. That’s why our early season hikes are in the Dales. It’s only an hour away with no monstrous peaks. Once the days are long them not only can we tackle the giants, we can also go for weekend camping trips to get the best of the late nights and early starts.