After the 3 months I took off work last year, 2008 was never going to come close, but all in all I’ve not done too badly and I’ve managed to arrange things to optimise my use of annual leave.
A quick trip up to the Lake District in April started things off. A wet and windy first day saw me walking over Catbells, Maiden Moor and High Spy with a detour to Castle Crag on the way down. The second day was better weather to start with and I headed up to Skiddaw via Ullock Pike, Long Side and Carl Side before striking off to bag the lonely top of Sale How and then cutting round the contours to bag Lonscale Fell before heading back down into Keswick, as the rain started.
The walking highlight of the year came next – a 4 day stretch of the South West Coast Path with my father and brother, starting from South Haven Point and finishing in Weymouth. I still can’t believe the weather that we had, and I was actually slightly annoyed that I packed my waterproofs as they proved to be unnecessary weight. The photos are probably the best I have ever taken.
I finished June with a second trip to the Lakes, consisting of 3 day walks acting as a “mop up” of tops in the vicinity of Ambleside. On day 1 I climbed Seat Sandal, going off path (not usually a good idea in my case, but actually worked this time), lunching at Grisedale Tarn and then heading up onto St Sunday Crag and with a strong wind at my back opting to continue over Birks down into Patterdale rather than back up onto Fairfield. On day 2, I headed up Stone Arthur and then round onto Fairfield, Hart Crag and Dove Crag, descending to Little Hart Crag and then along Scandale back to Ambleside. Day 3 started badly and was nearly abandoned before I even put my boots on, but eventually I walked over Helm Crag, Gibson Knott and Calf Crag, then heading off piste up the side of Tarn Crag to Codale Head and Sergeant Man. A descent along Blea Rigg and Silver Howe completed the day. Another breezy day.
At the end of July, we had a long weekend camping at the edge of Dartmoor, and on the Sunday, my son and I walked from Meldon reservoir up onto Yes Tor and High Willhays, then over the other points over 2,000ft. The day culminated in an arduous descent, numerous wrong turnings (never lost as such, but unable to get to where we wanted to once we hit the farmers’ fields), running out of drink 3 hours before the end of the walk and a sunset arrival back at camp just before the call to Mountain Rescue was made. Never has a mug of tea tasted so good. All four of us broke our journey home from Devon with a short excursion to Hound Tor and enjoyed a clamber over the rocks.
In August, we had a family holiday to Norway, where we did a few short sightseeing walks – a walk on one of the hills overlooking Bergen, a walk up to the Briksdaal glacier and a stroll in the countryside behind Eidfjord.
Returning home, I then used the majority of my second week off to explore the western lakes on a 4 day trip walking between youth hostels. The weather was atrocious, on the second and third days in particular, and saw me cutting short most of the planned walks, which means I got nowhere near the target number of summits I had intended. But the trip was certainly character-building and has set me up well for some longer treks next year.