A blog for the senses

It is that time of year when we naturally look back and think about what has passed over the previous twelve months. In some cases, those memories that brought elation and made you smile are sometimes tinged with sadness too. Without doubt, it is a poignant passage of our lives.

I am no different and look at what has gone on to make the year memorable. We then go on a journey of comparison and as I reach my 59th year, I often recall stories and times from my childhood. Yes I can remember that far back! 

Those halcyon days of summer, fishing, bird watching, playing endless games of cricket and football and having hair! The sun always shone. Well it seemed too. It was sunnier and warmer wasn’t it? The reality is, no it wasn’t. Well not unless you were brought up in the Caribbean…!

In fact, it has since been proved that we are conditioned by ‘selective memory’ and we only ‘recall’ the good. 

Looking back on ’14, there is no doubting what a great summer we had and I have some memories that will last with me forever. Such special times, people I met and experiences that from a personal perspective made it a good year all round.

I never tire of good weather and when I hear people saying, “oh it is too hot for me” or “Could do with some rain eh?” I am reminded that we can be champion moaners at times. 

Never satisfied. 

Isn’t it good to be able to appreciate what the ‘big man’ chucks at us and get on with it? Conversely, when we are blessed with weather like that you’ll hear some say, “if it was like this all the time we wouldn’t go abroad”. 


Opinions and comment? The life blood!

Actually, I don’t see things in ‘that light’ so to speak and as I walk around the fells throughout the seasons, I realise how lucky I am to be able to work in this fabulous place. I love it whatever the weather. Like a good relationship you take the rough with the smooth and hopefully it grows on you.In my case that’s a definite.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate things always seem to be better when the blue sky is around, as the warmth of the sun touches us but being relatively healthy and having an appreciation of this great land is so important for me.

Whilst the sunshine brings out the people to enjoy the fabulous vistas it can also highlight a negative side too. 

Its great to sit, look and enjoy your sandwiches as you take the view in and I know that the majority who visit the lakes are respectful but I did see a marked volume of rubbish littering the shoreline of some of our most famous waters. A pity because I am sure those people wouldn’t want me to arrive on their doorstep and tip out the contents of my bin in their living room. Doesn’t take much to take it back does it?

Later on in the year my wife and I visited London and in the morning we walked along the Thames opposite the London Eye. As we made our way back to the station later on that night, we passed the same spot and I was appalled at the amount of rubbish that people had simply dropped for others to pick up. I wont repeat what I said.

Back to normality and enough of the moan.

I am particularly honoured when people seek me out for workshops. Not just from the UK but across the globe. It’s a real pleasure to be able to show them the Lakes and help them ‘capture’ a better view of it. 

This year folk from Germany, France, Australia and Holland enjoyed the fells with me. It is a privilege to take them out and be able to chat and hear what they have to say. The world is a smaller place now yet they choose to come here. 

When I ask them, the same answer comes back every time. “Just look around you. That’s why I have come”.

I rest my case!

Whilst the sun did regularly take its hat off, I encountered the worse downpour on a two day July workshop I have ever experienced in over 30 years. Day one was fabulous. Clear blue skies and gloriously warm.What a complete turn around for day two. 

The heavens opened. Amazonian rain continued to pour with floods closing roads. Torrential doesn’t seem to adequately describe it. Noah would have been at home in Eskdale! Still, Pete and I had a great time and he managed to capture some wonderfully contrasting images of Lake District landscapes.

As well as my ’normal stuff’, I began a wild camping commission for The Great Outdoors magazine. This is an on going project and I am grateful to the help that David Powell-Thompson has given me along with advice from Terry Abraham and Chris Townsend. Simply the best people to be able to call on. I will keep you updated on that front as ’15 unfolds.

As we shuffled into the year, I made every effort to be a part of David and Gina Pennington’s final Wainwright as they ascended Mellbreak. 

You can listen to how the day went below 

It was a fantastic walk.

On a completely different front, the 14th January at 9pm on BBC 4 sees the abridged version of Terry’s fantastic film, ‘Life of a mountain: Scafell Pike’ aired on TV for the first time. He has worked so hard for this film and that dedication is now paying off for him. I am honoured to play a small part in it.

My diary is already looking busy and the book that David and I have completed, ‘ Walks To Waterfalls’ will be published this spring by Sigma Press.Our next is already on the go.

As I sit here today, its cold and grey but I have the photographs from Mellbreak and those fabulous views over Crummock and Buttermere to lift the spirits.

How can you not smile?

Thanks for reading and listening,