Plans

So much on our doorstep. So much to see and visit on a daily basis.

I was going through a box of maps, trying to find one covering part of our area. Why was it at the bottom of the box, buried under all the other maps….. Why was it as good as new, almost unused…….

As I searched through the other maps I found various handwritten notes. The notes, an insight into my former days. Route maps, climbing plans, camping sites, potential itineraries. One note caught my eye. A 4 day plan to climb 12 mountains on the Isle of Skye over one extended weekend. A real challenge for me, something to work to.

For years it has stayed a plan, gathering dust in that box.

It’s a different world for me now. Single parenting happened.

I smiled at that 4 day climbing plan and then carefully put it back in the box – maybe I can still use that one day. But at present my plans need to be much closer to hand. So the local map I was looking for was found. What can be found on my doorstep. That’s a start.

Walking up the hill

Walking up the hill…

It’s hard work. Sometimes it seems never ending. But eventually the hill flattens out. You get there. There might be bigger hills or mountains surrounding you. But in that moment you can breathe. You can enjoy the moment. You can see clearly. See for miles.

The perfect place for a cheese sandwich, pasty, packet of crisps and a warming brew.😂😂😂

Today it feels like I’m not even half way up the latest hill. I’m tired. Feeling battered and worn down. Unsure of the direction. If anything it feels like I can’t chose the path. I’m being forced along one route which is probably not heading in the direction I want to.

But you know what. I like a good sandwich and a brew on top of a mountain. So I’m going to keep on trying to climb.

See you at the top.

Lost in the snow

I found this old photo just randomly lying in the bottom of a box of all junk. I don’t know why I kept it. I’m thankful now as it reminds me of a long forgotten memory. I can’t remember which mountain it was. Not sure even which country it is in. Anyway it’s from over 20 years ago. I had been solo climbing . Not a difficult climb but it took a few hours of hard work. Definitely needed ropes and was very definitely vertical. Best described as a 200ft cliff. At the top of the climb it immediately opened up onto the summit top. A large and very gentle dome. As I scrambled over the edge I saw a figure stood in the distance. No idea why but I took a photo. He turned and watched me slowly walk towards him. I must have been a sight. Full winter climbing gear, ropes, ice axes. Completely sodden with all the wet snow. Steam rising off me. I had some blood dripping onto the snow from an encounter with a particularly sharp rock. I felt bad about staining the snow.

Next followed one of those conversations that just stay with you.

********

“Hello, it looks like you have had fun”

It was hard work but fun. It’s very, very steep.

“Your bleeding”

It’s ok, looks worse than it is.

“I’m lost, I’m trying to work out which way it is back down”

Where are you trying to get to.

“I want to get back to my car. Is the way down your way?”

No, no, no, no, no. Most definitely not that way.

“Oh I wonder which way it is then.”

At a guess with the position of the sun, the time and the atmospheric conditions. It’s that way behind you.

“Wow you good, how can you tell from that”.

I really can’t but I can clearly see your footprints in the snow. I’m guessing you just need to follow them all the way down.

*********

And a few seconds later he was off retracing his footprints. Now I could go on about the risks of winter hillwalking when your clearly not properly prepared. But actually how often do we all find ourselves in that position. Rapidly out of our depths, lost, confused, unprepared and probably very tired. Not forgetting how close we are to potentially walking off the cliff edge. I certainly feel that way quite often.

Yes I’m glad I kept that photo.

A trip many moons ago

I stumbled across a few old photos. From a time before parenting. Even before my first ever digital camera… A time when my body was still young and I could run up mountains. A time when the wind would still blow my thick long black hair across my face.

A trip to the West Side of Northern England. To the Lake District and to one of Englands most famous mountains. The Old Man of Coniston. It’s not a huge mountain standing at just over 2600ft. But it’s steeped in history. It’s positioned next to the beautiful Coniston Water. The walk to the top takes you through old copper mine workings. Alongside a couple of stunning little tarns. Then finally onto a summit with sweeping views.

Hopefully one day I will return to the summit. A summit climb with considerably less hair. Which will take much longer this time and feature many sandwich stops..

Needs work

Another moody Yorkshire summer afternoon. Everyday it’s such a blessing to wake to this view. No wonder my partner fell in love with this house within seconds. And as ever she was on the right side of the conversation. The ‘needs work’ line was a little weak. Actually it still needs work but that view is still here. Tell me what’s more important.

Looking back my line about ‘needs work’ was more about avoiding change. Sticking with what we had. Avoiding that leap of faith. That’s been a theme of my life story so far. I always think my past climbing hobby is a perfect reflection of life. Many goals set but never attempted. It was easier to avoid them, find excuses. Too much caution climbing routes. Using fear and self doubt as an excuse to avoid those more challenging climbs. Backing away from leaps of faith. Yes I had fun but what could have been.

Now the life safety net has been removed. Single parenting and being without that person who held my hand on those big steps. Life has changed but so am I. It’s a slow process but it’s happening. Now is the time to face some of those fears which have held me back. Time to start ditching those constraints that have grounded me. Time to re-evaluate myself. Only by doing that can I be that parent our son truly deserves. Yes the one who protects him but the one who also encourages him to truly flourish. To be that person who he truly wants to be. To live his life.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of virtual travel. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we visit one of the most stunning places on the planet. Let’s go to Switzerland.

As a child I would visit my towns library. It wasn’t very big. It had masses of a Mills & Boon books. That’s not really going to float a young boys boat. The library didn’t seem to have that many exciting books. But it had one. It was a reference book so I couldn’t take it home. So every Saturday morning I would carefully get this book. Find a comfy seat and read. This was a book about climbing in Switzerland. I would look in awe at the mountain photos and read the daring tales of the brave climbers.

Switzerland seemed like a fantasy world. Too good to be real.

How could a country look this exciting and this beautiful.

I would dream of standing on top of these peaks and gazing out into the distance. My heart racing as I am surrounded by The Alps.

Then fast forward many years and I’m there. I’m stood on some of those very mountains.

Switzerland is real. It’s actually more stunning than I ever imagined.

And next to me is a little boy. A boy starting his love affair with this magical country.