We’ll be going on our first jaunt of 2017 soon, so thought I’d better finish our roundup of the last half of 2016.
For the last couple of years we’ve squeezed July for all it’s worth, and camped every weekend, this year we managed 3 weekends away as a family, and I had a weekend away with some friends.
It’s become a yearly date firmly planted on the calendar, a weekend away with my closest friends, we’ve climbed Snowdon, climbed Ben Nevis, but this year we thought we’d try something different. We planned to travel by train, then backpack between two youth hostels. The Peak District seemed like the perfect spot. We took the train from Leeds on the Friday morning and trundled our way through Sheffield and into the Peaks along the Hope Valley, you really can’t beat travelling by train, it’s exciting, relaxing and great for people watching. We had the company of a funky group of bearded hipsters, obviously on a stag do on our way through Hope. We disembarked at Edale train station, got a little lost finding our bearings! (I really need to book myself on a navigation course), and headed for Mam Tor.
Heading Up to Hollins Cross and Mam Tor
We walked up and over Mam Tor from Edale and walked down into Castleton and back out to the Youth Hostel (always remember to check where the youth hostel is before setting off and not just relying on your map, the Youth Hostel on the map had moved, it was a decent walk out of Castleton).
On the Saturday we walked along the Hope valley, following the River Derwent, through Grindleford, where we had a lovely escape from the rain in the Community Cafe and shop. Then worked our way to Eyam, past the plague graves and straight to the pub. We managed to escape the rain again, before walking up what felt like a very, very steep hill past some bewildered looking llamas to Eyam Youth Hostel.
Sunday we walked from Eyam in beautiful sunshine, up to the top of Froggatt Edge and along to Grindleford station and the superb Grindleford Station Cafe to catch our train back home. We walked about 25 miles over the whole weekend, it was lovely, I really enjoy this time with these ladies, we all have children and busy lives, so it’s great to get away.
We stood and watched some climbers for a little while on Froggatt Edge, we have all dabbled a little with climbing and abseiling, but fancy having another go, so maybe an idea for 2017’s weekend away.
We crammed August with as much outdoor time as possible this year too. How many summer’s will we enjoy in our lifetime? I’m 42, if I live to 80 that’s only 38 more summer’s, I have vowed to make everyone of those left memorable and full.
We spent 2 weeks on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales, 2 weeks of absolute bliss. We stayed in Llangwnnadl, and spent most of our time on deserted beaches, running, walking, climbing hills and enjoying the peace, tranquility and lack of people. While we were there we snook in a good long walk, following in the footsteps of Sean Conway and Elise Downing, and walked along the Wales Coastal path 11 miles from Porth Oer (Whistling Sands) to Aberdaron.
View from the top of Mynydd Mawr to the end of the peninsula
Walking into a cloud and trying to catch it on Mynydd Mawr.
The walk was truly stunning, the views are spectacular, out to sea and looking back across the whole of the peninsula to Snowdon. One of the highlights for the kids was walking into a cloud on the top of Mynydd Mawr and trying to catch it. They loved spotting the wildlife too, a garden tiger moth, a dor beetle, wonderful soaring choughs and an adder. From Aberdaron we got the Llyn Coastal bus back to Porth Oer and watched the sunset, magical memories.
A west coast sunset on the beach, incredible when you’re used to East coast sunsets.
We also climbed The Rivals (Yr Eifl) while we were there, a beauty of a spot to climb, a hillfort, wonderful trig on Yr Eifl and eating fresh blueberries on the way down.
Race to the trig Yr Eifl
We also spent a week on the beach at Bridlington with family, and camped with some friends in Norfolk. Totally new to me, my first visit to Norfolk, and it did not disappoint (thankfully after an absolutely horrendous car journey). A couple of firsts for my kids too, all three body boarding confidently (took a summer of beaching!), and my youngest cycled on the road for the first time. An awesome summer filled to the brim.
Back to normality and school in September, we didn’t manage a family day out this month, but I won some flights with Easyjet earlier in the year, so my husband and I had a few days away in Copenhagen. We’ve never been abroad without the kids before, so this trip was full of new challenges. We absolutely adored Copenhagen, and totally made the most of every minute. We walked for miles, drank lots of hot coffee (an important point when you have kids), and cycled all over. It was scary to start with but cycling in Copenhagen is amazing. I became a little addicted to cycling over all the bridges and the stunning cykleslangen.
Cycling in the middle of Copenhagen
We had a lovely October weather wise here in Yorkshire, so we decided this month to head back into the Yorkshire Dales and tackle Ingleborough and our last camping trip of the year and second highest Yorkshire Peak. We haven’t camped this late in the year before, so it was all new and exciting. We pitched up on Friday afternoon, my middle daughter and I had a lovely sunset run up a country lane, before getting cosy and tucking into tea.
Sunset run in the Dales, breathtaking.
We walked up Ingleborough on Saturday from Clapham, through the Ingleton nature trail and up through Trow Gill. The kids loved it, it’s features like this that make the walk interesting and exciting for them (they don’t care for the views), they felt like Frodo Baggins on his trip to Mordor.
Climbing up through Trow Gill
It got a little breezy after little Ingleborough, but we made it to the top and the trig (my kids never miss a trig touch!). We tried to eat on the summit, but it was far too cold and breezy, must remember in future to eat on the way up.
Eldest daughter, purple dot pushing up to Ingleborough summit plateau.
We made it.
A gnome cairn and stunning views to Morecambe bay and the Lake District
We took the same route back as we loved Trow Gill so much, and enjoyed the Autumn afternoon through the nature trail back to Clapham for a hot chocolate (in a bizarre cafe that was like someone’s living room!), ruddy faced and tired. We enjoyed another stunning sunset back at the camp and a good post mountain dinner.
We all got a surprise in the morning when we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and a tent covered in frost!, the first frost of the year, and a first camping in frost for us.
A frosty October Yorkshire Dales sunrise.
Seeing as we had to wait for the tent to defrost and dry out a little we decided to head back into the mountains to Ribblehead to check out our next peak on the list Whernside. We had a lovely early morning stroll along the valley beneath Whernside and awed at the amazing construction of the Ribblehead Viaduct.
Whernside actually looks like the easiest and most straight forward climb of all the 3 Yorkshire Peaks, so we’re hoping to go back in the Spring, and maybe camp again too.
No family outing again this month due to things getting in the way.
My eldest daughter went on a big scout camp up near Bradford the weekend we had snow in Yorkshire!!
5 inches of snow, leaky tents, 300 scouts, bad cold food and lots of mud. She came back pretty miserable, but has since said how proud she feels of surviving the worst scout camp in history. It’s so true that it’s the challenging times we remember the most, and look back on differently once we’ve come through the other side. Good on her.
These adventures all began 3/4 years ago when we decided we’d go climb a hill on the Winter Solstice and watch the sunset. This year we had a vague, crazy plan of getting up really early and arriving at Ribblehead for sunrise and climbing Whernside (it would have been great to have done all 3 peaks in 2016). However the weather in the Dales looked spectacularly wet and miserable, so we opted last minute to head to the highest spot on the North Yorkshire Moors instead Round hill on Urra Moor.
It started well, and we walked up onto the Moor from Chop Gate up through a very soggy tree plantation, but as soon as we hit the moor the sky went dark and the heaven’s opened, and the wind blew!
A very exposed Urra Moor
We thought we were well prepared, thermals, layers, waterproofs, gloves, hats, but an hour of horizontal rain on an exposed windy moor was brutal. My usually very hardy 7 year old broke!, she never breaks, she is tough. We battled our way to the trig point summit, took a quick snap and literally ran off the moor, we followed the route on our mapped walk which took us across some very boggy moorland, and eventually found an escape route down off the top and back into the sheltered valley. For a brief moment the sun shone our faces, and set the hills behind us aglow.
Last few drops of sun on the shortest day of the year setting the hills aglow.
and we watched it disappear beyond the distant hills and hurried back to the car for hot drinks and food (yet again we didn’t get the kids to eat before getting high up, really bad mistake, not one we will do again in Winter).
Winter Solstice 2016 sun setting, what an amazing year we had.
It’s funny looking back, from what started with the solstice walk once per year, we upped that to a once a month adventure (inspired by Alastair Humphreys), but I could have added lots of other things too this year. I’m loving how this has become our normal, a habit, and we keep finding more places and challenges to keep us pushing our boundaries as a family. The girls have taken up running this year, after being inspired watching Elise Downing run the coast, and watching Pen Llyn Ultra runners in Wales in the summer, so I’m hoping this is something they carry on. We already have a few plans in place for 2017, so can’t wait for the days to get longer and fill another year to the brim with fun and memories.