The last week of 2018 saw me with a nasty bout of flu – and bizarrely, the start of 2018 had been exactly the same.
These two periods of ill health made me wonder if it had really been an ‘annus horribilis’ or whether there were actually some incredible adventures which were just being forgotten.
Read on to find out more (spoiler alert, it turns out it was much more fun than I’d remembered – check the links to read the stories of that month).
Knowing that I had flu at the start of January, I figured that month would have been written off for any outdoor fun. It was a big surprise when I looked back in my diary to see that I actually went for a walk every day once I was back on my feet.
Mostly, it was just a mile or two from home (sometimes in the dark after work) but I remember now thinking that the best way to get my health and strength back was going to be through regular gentle exercise outside.
It had also been a while since I’d practiced map reading, so I headed off up Win Hill (Derbyshire) on my own one day, found some snow near the summit and took some unknown paths back to the cafe in Hope.
February is a weird month for me. I can remember sunny days climbing outdoors in a t-shirt or freezing cold miserable ones. In 2018, it just seemed cold all month and then the ‘Beast from the East’ arrived to finish it all off.
We went on some fabulous walks, one going up to the summit of Black Hill (see post here) on the Pennine Way. However, a scheduled trip up to the Lake District ended up being cancelled due to said Beast.
Instead, we made do with a few home grown adventures, such as an expedition (truly it felt like one) during the worst of the Beast to have breakfast outside on a bench a mile or so from the front door (my it was cold).
The highlight of the week had to be the famous Budd Gin Palace, an igloo built in the back garden (amazing what you can do with a bit of snow and a washing up bowl).
After 2 months of snow, I figured we were due some warm weather in March. Ummm!
Early March saw more of the white stuff and more walking as a result. That said, I think it also saw my first mountain bike ride of the year, so things were on the up!
By the end of March, we could hold back no longer – it was time to test out our new bike packing kit. Heading for an overnight bivvy in the local woods, we set off with a bottle of wine, frozen turkey chilli and a fire in our bellies for adventure. It was only on arrival at our bivvy for the night that we realised our rookie error – check the full story here.
My birthday is at the end of March and despite the weather still not warming up, I decided to celebrate with a dip in a freezing cold river….you have to do these things every so often 😉
Wow, April was a fun month!
It was full of short runs (a friend was running the Marathon des Sables and I decided to run a mile or so every day in support), fab mountain bike rides, yoga, a trip to the Lake District, ticking a few more Wainwright summits, camping in the Peak District for the Cotic Bikes spring party and camping again the following weekend for the Cafe Adventure social weekend.
The weather had finally warmed up, adventure was being had and, well I’m sorry, but I think I was too busy doing to write anything about it. I promise to do better in 2019 because I reckon you missed me raving about a few gems of days out.
The best thing of the month though, my other half Ride Holme qualified as a British Cycling Mountain Bike Guide. Watch this space for the launch of his guiding business in 2019 😉
Everything quietened down in May as the end of the month saw us heading up to Oban for a 2 week bike packing trip to the Outer Hebrides. With work commitments too, we just couldn’t squeeze much else into the month.
Having borrowed some panniers from a friend, we did manage a quick overnight trip locally just to check packing and loading them first – probably the most preparation we did for that trip!
Other than that, it was all about the Outer Hebrides 😉
I could talk about our trip to the Outer Hebrides for days.
Actually I did, via a series of posts, so I’ll not bore you by repeating all of that again.
Suffice to say that it was one of my favourite adventures ever, despite very little planning and lots of trial and error. Maybe the lack of planning made it even more of an adventure!
The start of July saw me start a fabulous contract to check and update some walks for an AA Publishing title.
The long hot summer was in full swing and I was the lucky person who got to spend glorious days out walking up on the high moors.
It was tiring some days, walking up to 10 miles in 30 degree heat, making notes all the while, then getting up to do it all again the next day. I couldn’t find it in myself to complain though….
I still had a few walks to complete on my contract during August which were fit in around supporting Ride Holme on a couple of mountain bike challenges.
He’d entered ‘Ard Rock Enduro again at the start of the month. Then, on the last weekend of August, he undertook a 3 day bike packing challenge raising over £600 for the BMC Mend our Mountains campaign for Cut Gate.
His route covered 150 miles from the Dales Bike Centre in North Yorkshire to Cafe Adventure in Hope, Derbyshire – and frustratingly coincided with the coldest/wettest day of the summer.
By now, I’d not really been on my bike since June and with high winds forecast for our week away in the Lake District, they stayed firmly locked away at home again.
Managing to get a good summit ticked just as the storms were blowing in (linking arms to stop ourselves being blown off our feet), the next day we retreated to the Keswick Pencil Museum. We’d joked about visiting for years – it was actually really interesting – definitely worth a visit!
At the end of the month, we finally squeezed in another wild camp and treated ourselves to a slap up meal for our anniversary, courtesy of Summit to Eat asking me to review some food.
With the advent of Autumn, the adventures started thinning out.
When a gloriously sunny day popped up, I put my laptop to one side and finally got out on my bike again. It was the last warm mountain biking day of the year for me, but boy was it a good one. Just one of those days where everything flows and you feel glad to be alive.
However, I was still less than fit on my bike so when the Cafe Adventure Halloween ride came around and I saw the route, my choice was to have a cuppa in the cafe while waiting for the crazy fancy dress toting mountain bikers to return. It was a great get together afterwards despite me not earning my meal!
I managed to get out on my mountain bike again in November and with the nights really drawing in, borrowed some lights from Ride Holme. We cobbled things together really, not expecting to stay out so long but glad we did.
However, cycling through dark woods with just a handlebar light (no helmet light) was somewhat entertaining. We remedied that and I’m now in possession of a shiny new helmet light for our next woodland adventure!
Back in the day, a big group of us used to head up to the Lake District for an annual camping weekend right before Christmas but more recently, December has been filled with other things.
This year, December started with Ride Holme getting flu. However, we had a brief period where both of us were well just before Christmas and I managed a few walks during the month. I wrote about one of them, when I decided to explore the lesser known path: Let your curiosity run wild
On Christmas Day, we had a lovely walk before sitting down to eat our meal, but then Boxing Day brought my late present of flu. As I write this (New Year’s Eve), I’m just getting back on my feet. Looking back to last January, I figure it’ll set me in good stead to start going on some short walks again next week!
I was kind of surprised when I finished collating this post. My overall impression of the year had been somewhat different! I honestly thought it had been a bit tame on the outdoor adventure front, just goes to show that we’re probably doing more than we give ourselves credit for 😉
Here’s to more adventures in 2019, see you on the other side!