2020 has been the fourth year I’ve participated in the initiative by Country Walking Magazine. For the past 12 months, I’ve been busy counting my miles daily and tallying my weekly totals. I’ve counted workouts on the cross-trainer, walks to work (they’ve not been many this year!), exercising the family dog, Riley and of course holidays and days out with David!
Though 2020 has been a challenging year in itself, my overall mileage for 2020 has been 1,495 miles, only five miles from the 1,500 milestone, but some 484 miles from 2019’s total. However, I’m pleased with my tally for 2020, what with lock-downs, not working for eight months and not going on many holidays, I’m amazed I walked as much as I did!
This year I’ve also been counting the miles Riley has walked with me. My daily Riley walks have kept me sane. His grand total for 2020 is: 792! Well done Riley!
As in previous posts, I’ve split the year into seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter, and give the miles for each of the three months. It will be good to see how different my mileage accumulates over the year and how it differs per season and against previous years totals.
So without further ado, let’s begin with my favourite season of all, spring!
Spring: (March, April and May)
Before the chaos that was Covid-19 and of people stock pilling the likes of toilet paper! David and I managed to go on a few day trips: the first to Grasmere, the Lake District, the second to Snowdonia, Wales. Then lock-down, part one was initiated and I was (eventually) furloughed. I made the most of the days off work and walked Riley every day.
Total miles for spring = 379. 2
Previous year totals: 2017 – 332, 2018 – 481, and 2019 – 495.
Summer: (June, July and August)
Thankfully lock-down was phased out and it felt like life was getting back to some semblance of how it used to be. The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild eased David and I back out walking at local nature reserves and in July we took a day trip to the Lake District to tick off some wild swims. My swim tally this year has been abysmal! We took our one and only weekend break in August to the Lake District once again, and chose walks/lakes that I knew would be less crowded.
Total miles for summer = 384.5
Previous year totals: 2017 – 382, 2018 – 442 and 2019 – 461.
Autumn: (September, October and November)
Sadly there was talk on the wind of a second lock-down and the country was put into tiers which limited travel. David and I kept local, save for a perfect swim/walk to Buttermere with 500 miler (Proclaimer), Riley in tow. A cancelled birthday trip to Scotland was replaced with a laughter filled walk to Formby Beach.
Total miles for autumn = 348.1
Previous year totals: 2017 – 321, 2018 – 479 and 2019 – 457.
Winter: (December, January and February)
The beginning of 2020 was a bit slow adventure wise, a broken toe did little to aid walking. Daily Riley walks were the only highlight of this dark, damp season.
Total miles for winter = 383.2
Previous year totals: 2017 – 281, 2018 – 469 and 2019 – 566.
Grand Total for 2020 – 1,495miles.
Previous years totals: 2017 – 1,316, 2018 – 1,871 and 2019 – 1,979.
Achieving #walk1000miles in a year is greatly satisfying and addictive, why not give the challenge a go yourself?
#walk1000miles also has a fun, supportive Facebook group. Through participation in this group my name was among the many others on the We Did 1000 Miles page of the January 2021 edition of Country walking Magazine.
I’ve not signed up to 2021’s challenge, however I am continuing my walking but just not counting my miles as religiously as I have in the past. Walking is such an easy, free activity, much underrated if you ask me. I will continue walking the miles I do and see how I go. How about you? Do you feel inspired to give the challenge a go?
If you fancy signing up, click the link below and join thousands more, walking that little bit more than they did last year!
What an unprecedented year 2020 has been! From a stormy beginning to the new year to a global pandemic the likes no one had seen in a hundred years. We were told to work from home or be furloughed. The roads were quieter and the air felt fresher for it. Then we were allowed out but it wasn’t for long as we were soon all told to stay at home, again! People lost their jobs, their homes and small businesses suffered. It has been a year of struggle and stresses untold. Every day blended into one and mental health issues took its toll. Now Christmas is upon us but there’s not much cheer to be had. This year in photos has been the hardest blog to write. How has your 2020 fared?
Our 2020 started off slowly with lots of walks with Riley. If I knew what lay ahead I would have gone on more adventures.
Our aviary welcomed a new friend in the form of Nova, a Star finch.
If I’d have known that this was the last time I’d see a live concert at the Philharmonic Hall, I would have made an effort to enjoy it more. However I was less than satisfied with this performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony.
With all the uncertainty around lock-down it was nice to escape for a while. A favourite RPG of mine which I last played in 1997, had been remade and was released in time to save lock-down.
Social distancing meant that we didn’t see family as much as we would have liked. So we had many family quiz nights to catch up and have a much needed laugh.
Sadly we had to say goodbye to Evie, the family cat who passed away aged 18.
Once Covid-19 lock-down restrictions had been relaxed, we took a day trip to The Lake District. Wild swimming at Beacon Tarn was a reset button to all the anxiety of the year.
A visit to a local sunflower maze with family was enjoyable, even though the sunflowers themselves had passed their best!
One of the best days of 2020 was when we took a visit to Buttermere in The Lake District. The weather was perfect, just like a summers day!
Like many who had plans this year, I had to cancel my birthday holiday to Scotland. I settled for a walk at Formby Beach with David and Riley instead.
During the summer, on a walk with Riley, I spotted the Google Maps car. Fast forward to the end of the year and during a search I spotted Riley, Mum and I on Google Maps!
With the country in differing Covid-19 tiers, there seems to be less hope and cheer this Christmas. Whoever you celebrate the season with, I wish you all the best.
I’m keeping everything crossed that 2021 will be a kinder year to us all!
I wish you all good health and happiness for the new year ahead!
It’s the time of year for reminiscing and after the year its been, a little dreaming will do us some good.
Last December David and I jetted over the Atlantic from Manchester to New York City. It was our first holiday abroad in over ten years, so we were a little nervous. The anxiety levels weren’t helped when our shuttle taking us to the airport was 40 minutes late and wouldn’t have arrived if David hadn’t complained! Thankfully another taxi driver stepped in and we arrived at Manchester Terminal 1 in time to check-in and get through the stressful security, which in reality wasn’t as bad as expected.
We traveled with Jet2 and the service we received I thought was decent, though being a budget airline there was no in-flight entertainment. The flight reached heights of 37,000 ft and took eight hours, which we whiled away by reading, eating a pre-booked lunch, writing about my observations and watching a Christmas film on my laptop. Looking back the eight hours flew by and before we knew it, we were looking out from the planes window onto a snowscape of Canada and north-east USA below.
The landing on American soil at Newark Airport, New Jersey was bumpy, with relieved passengers giving the pilot a round of applause as we touched down. Our first look of the New York skyline was of the Empire State building from the runway. We disembarked the plane to Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York! Cheesy!
We spent another hour standing in a queue for passport control. I felt that this was the most stressful part of the whole procedure, the last hurdle to US soil. Having taken digital shots of our finger prints and mug shots I finally got a stamp in my passport and we were allowed through. We collected our luggage and went in search of a Jet2 representative who had details of our shuttle to take us to our hotel in Manhattan.
We sat for what felt like an eternity with other holiday makers in the airports lounge awaiting shuttles to take us to our hotels. Finally David’s name was called and we were on our way! Newark Airport is about an hours drive from Manhattan and it took longer than this due to driving through the heavy traffic of New York City’s roads, and watching as every other passenger was dropped off at their flash looking hotels before we arrived at ours. We were the last to be dropped off at our home for the next six nights, The Redbury.
While we were thinking of going to New York we had been looking at staying at The New Yorker but after the collapse of Thomas Cook all hotel and flight prices doubled, so we had to search for another hotel. It was the room colour scheme of The Redbury that I liked and reading about its history, being a woman’s only hotel, that clinched it for me. The hotel has its very own restaurant, Marta which is where we went after check-in.
After stuffing our face with thin crust pizza, David and I donned our winter coats and headed out for our first foray on the streets of Manhattan. We took in the night-time views of the Empire State Building. Walked along a bustling 5th Avenue, watched a light show beamed onto the building of Sacks and Co, before heading towards the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Our first night in New York was dazzling and we were eager to start on our itinerary the very next day!
After a comfortable night at The Redbury we made an early start come the morning. We walked two hours south towards the One World Observatory at the Freedom Tower, taking a pit stop at Washington Square in Greenwich Village along the way. One World Trade Centre is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776ft and we spent a good hour at the Observatory, enjoying 360° views of the city before visiting the Oculus and the 9/11 Memorial.
We found it easy to navigate around Manhattan and before we knew it we were at the terminal to the Staten Island Ferry, so we jumped on that to get free views of the Statue of Liberty.
For me the highlight of the whole vacation was seeing the Brooklyn Bridge. For years I’ve been in awe of the bridge’s history. Of the Roebling family and the tragedies that plagued them and of Emily Roebling’s determination to get the bridge completed even when the strength of the men of the family had failed. It felt like I was in a dream when I saw the mighty suspension towers draw closer as we walked towards them.
Once we’d crossed the East River we meandered around Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), and took in views of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park. David snapped a photo of the Instagrammable Manhattan Bridge, and we shared another pizza, this time at Ignazio’s. As night fell, we bathed in the lights of the city, before we headed back across the Brooklyn Bridge on our two hour walk to our hotel.
After walking a mammoth 20+ miles the day before, we were tired and sore when the next day dawned bright and crisp. However, we ended up walking just as much but instead of walking south, this time we headed north, taking in sights such as Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building.
Our itinerary for the day was to visit the American Museum of Natural History, famous for being where the Night of the Museum was filmed. We spent a good few hours walking the halls of one of the largest natural history museums in the world.
For lunch we headed even further north passed w110th street towards Tom’s Restaurant, made popular by Jerry Seinfeld’s 1990’s comedy series Seinfeld. It was very busy but we were accommodated and ordered burgers and fries which sated our appetite. It was nice to just sit down for a little while as my feet and back had started to ache from all the miles we’d walked.
For the rest of the afternoon we explored Central Park.
As you can guess we never took the subway but opted to walk everywhere instead. In total we walked over 70+ miles in six days of sightseeing. Everyday we saw something different. A 9 am appointment at Top of the Rock began our next day. Though The Empire State Building is taller than the Rockefeller, the latter has better views of the former and of Central Park. We spent a good hour viewing the iconic 360° views of the city from the Rockefeller.
For the rest of the day we walked along the streets of Manhattan and souvenir shopped. We visited the 1.7 mile former railway line, The High Line, now an elevated park with art work dotted about. A spur of the moment decision saw us taking a pit stop at Max Brenner’s Coffee Bar. I really wanted a warming, restorative coffee and we ended up ordering chocolate desserts as well!
The next morning was our last full day in New York City. It was also the only day that it rained! We walked an hour, dodging the puddles towards museum and air craft carrier, The Intrepid docked at Pier 86 on the Hudson River. David was excited to visit this iconic venue as he wanted to see the space shuttle Enterprise.
After lunch at 5 Napkin Burger, we decided to walk back towards Central Park to see some of the sights we hadn’t seen previously. It was a gloomy, wet day but we managed to see The Met, The Guggenheim and The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir of Central Park before we were soaked through and called it a day.
The shuttle to take us back to Newark Airport was booked for 2 pm the following day. This didn’t leave us much time for sightseeing, so we walked up 5th Avenue, to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree one last time before relaxing in the hotel’s lounge.
The shuttle thankfully turned up on time, we were the first passengers onboard. The next two hours were a reenactment in reverse of our arrival, picking up other passengers along the way. By the time we arrived at Newark Airport night had fallen. Check-in and security went smoothly. The waiting area wasn’t very large, so we stood around for an hour waiting for the call to board. Everything seemed to go swimmingly but once we had boarded the plane and got comfortable in our seats that was when David noticed a kerfuffle with the luggage. Suitcases were taken out of the hold and then put back. The pilot informed us that there was a discrepancy with the luggage paperwork. Then the suitcases were counted by hand and this added a one hour plus delay.
We left American soil with a strong jet stream behind us, cruising at 41,000 ft at a speed of around 700 miles p/h. With no meal provided for our return journey, David and I ordered runny pot noodles to sate our hunger. Again there was no in-flight entertainment so we watched another Christmas film. The flight duration wasn’t as long as the outbound flight and as we crossed time zones back to UK’s future time, we watched as the rising sun pierced the dark horizon.
We touched down at Manchester Airport after 8.30 am, tired after a stupendous vacation to New York City! I struggled to get through an automated passport control but thankfully after a few tries it recognised my face! Our shuttle to take us home was already waiting our arrival and dropped us punctually outside our home at 10 am, to a whingey Artie who couldn’t believe his eyes on our return. Think he missed us!
I’ve really enjoyed this walk down memory lane and I hope you have too? I’ve loved sharing some of our pictures with you! Our visit to New York City seems just like a dream now. In a time where our liberties have been restricted, reminiscing about past travels will get us through the dark nights of winter. And would we go back to New York? Absolutely! There’s still so much to see and do.
Not from want of trying, I haven’t been able to link in with any of the previous Scavenger Hunts hosted by Hawthorn this year. However December’s hunts are looking a little different, posting a picture on Friday’s instead. So I’m linking in with this first Friday’s Hawthorns December Photo Hunt of: Decorations – a favourite one – was it inherited, did your kids make it or was it one you bought on a whim and love dearly?
This year, the one decoration I was looking forward to get out of storage and putting on the Christmas tree was this Statue of Liberty decoration I bought from a 5th Avenue store in Manhattan, New York City!
Looking at the smiling statue, surrounded by twinkling lights makes me reminisce on a wonderful trip David and I took last December.
2020 has been a disappointing year for so many, David and myself included. For my birthday this year we should have been holidaying in a loch-side cabin in Scotland’s Trossach’s National Park, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, we made the best of a difficult situation and spent the day at Formby Point. No trip to the beach is complete without an excitable Border Collie in tow. We may not have seen any red squirrels in the woods but we certainly made the most of our time at the beach, even seeing a few mermaid purses. Here’s a few pictures from our trip.
How have you been coping in 2020? Have any holiday plans changed/cancelled?
I live in a region of England that has been put under stricter Covid-19 restrictions, meaning that only travel from the region is for work and not recreation.
Thankfully, on Tuesday David had a day off work and we managed to escape to The Lake District for a day out. We brought our gentle giant of a border collie, Riley along with us.
The day started before the sunrise. We drove for 2.5 hours up the M6, taking a stop at Lancaster services for a comfort break. The destination of the day was Buttermere. As we drove past the neighbouring lake Crummock Water, David stopped at a lay-by. The surface of the water was so still it was like a mirror. We got out of the car and headed towards the peaceful, quiet shores of Crummock Water. David got Buzz, his drone out and I ran around with Riley.
The village of Buttermere is much busier. The National Trust car park fills up quickly but luckily there were still a few parking spaces left on our arrival. We paid £6 for four hours, you could pay with coins or by card. We donned our walking boots and rucksacks before taking the short walk towards the lake.
Like Crummock, the water of Buttermere was perfectly still. In all my visits to the lake I’ve never seen it so calm. The sun had burned off the remaining mist and a warm day was ahead of us. It was a very surprising day weather wise. I’d planned on it being a cool autumnal day but in reality there was no wind, the sun was warm and it felt like another last gasp from summer. It was a perfect day!
Following many other people, we took the northern path which passes the lone tree and has wonderful views of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks. We made camp (Camp Riley) at a wide pebbly beach. Before we had lunch, I was going to have a swim, with the hope that Riley would come into the water with me. However the shore sloped steeply into the water and Riley was a little tentative. Not wanting to frighten him, I left him on the shore with David, who had taken Buzz into the air once again, to the amusement of passers-by.
The water was glorious! It wasn’t as cold as I’d expected. Indeed I’d swam in Buttermere previously when the water was much colder! You can read that post, here. I swam for about 15 minutes, but I could have stayed in for longer. It was so lovely. However Riley was getting stressed that he couldn’t reach one of his humans, so I waded out so he could run me around the shoreline in my swimsuit. The sun was so warm I didn’t even get cold nor have difficulty getting dressed, which is a novelty.
Once we had picnicked, we packed up and headed slowly back to the car. It had been a beautiful day. Riley seemed to have enjoyed himself and I’d got a swim in one of my favourite lakes. It’s a day I shall remember and smile at for a very long time.
Recently I’ve been in a bit of a slump with regards to my writing. However, last weekend we visited a local sunflower maze and I thought it would be a nice post to write about. Sorry it’s taken me a while to get around to writing it.
The knowledge of this sunflower maze came to me rather late. I saw pictures my cousin had taken and I quickly Googled where it was. It was at a farm in Tarbock, Prescot, some 25 minutes drive from us. The only problem was, that I was so late to the party that it was difficult in getting a time and date for a booking, but I persevered and managed to get an early morning slot on the very last day of opening.
In April some 35,000 sunflower seeds in the initials of the NHS were planted by a farmer, who also planted a sunflower maze. Sunflowers are a symbol of happiness and since Covid-19, happiness has been in short supply.
The day we visited was a gloomy overcast morning, luckily we had missed the rain. David and I, along with my mum and David’s parents all spent a joyful 45 minutes walking along the maze of mostly gone to seed sunflowers, but with the occasional late bloomer standing proud and golden. Along the path were bee related questions. If you answered wrongly you took a dead-end turn. All eyes were on me! I know a bit about bee ID but not that they have two pairs of wings and have five eyes. Well in reality two eyes the other three are ‘simple’ eyes that detect light. However we managed to navigate the maze as a team and much laughter was had. It was a nice way to pass an hour.
Have you been to a sunflower maze? Or any kind of maze?
My last wild swim was in October 2019 when I swam in Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw, below a foreboding Snowdon.
I so wanted to extend my swim season but I never got to Coniston, The Lake District on New Years Day as planned!
As winter waned I tried paddling in Grasmere with Riley but secretly wished I had brought my swimsuit.
Riley at Grasmere
Trying to cling onto some vestige of normality during the madness surrounding Covid-19, David and I, took a day trip to Snowdonia, in the hope I would get in a swim. However on that March day, it was too windy to swim. I’ve found that wind is a swimmers’ bane. Well it’s mine at least! So I had to make do with pictures of Llyn Padarn and Llyn Gwynant. I aim to go back to these llyns by the end of the year!
Then lockdown happened.
At first it was ok, I enjoyed going on daily walks with Riley but as the weeks progressed, I grew restless for adventure, and my desire to wild swim increased.
Riley playing with his buddie
Riley and David
Since lockdown has been relaxed I’ve made plans to head towards Coniston on several occasions. However the weather forecast hasn’t been favourable. High winds and squally weather isn’t the optimum for me, so I’ve waited and waited.
That was until Sunday 12th July 2020.
With favourable weather forecast, David and I got up readily at 6am to head towards our planned excursion of the day, Coniston Water. Suzanna Cruickshank’s book Swimming Wild in the Lake District, suggested Brown Howe car park had easy access to the water, so we headed there. We drove an uneventful two hours from Liverpool to Coniston. On arrival we were very lucky as we got the last remaining parking space at 9am!
In these strange Corona times, paying for parking has got more or less easier, (depends if you enjoyed using cash for parking). We paid via contactless but we still had to touch the keypad for plus, so many hours! There were however lots of antibacterial foam sprays around the car park and toilets for cleansing.
With parking paid for all day, at £5.50 we relaxed and gathered our gear. The walk to Coniston Water’s shoreline was just a five minute saunter, although at 9am the shoreline was busy, busy, busy, with families enjoying the water. There were people swimming, paddle boarding, hopping into canoes or just sitting in inflatables. It was all a little overwhelming actually! We are not used to so much people traffic! We walked a few paces before we found a suitable shingle beach, though it was occupied by a family. I was adamant to swim in Coniston Water, it’s the only large lake I’ve not swam in, so I decided to ask if we could join them. They were welcoming and we set up camp next to them.
I prefer my swims to be less cluttered with humanity but Coniston Water was awash with people that I really couldn’t avoid them. We did all respect each others space and social distancing was in evidence. There was not a cough or a sneeze to be heard and I quickly took to the water for a fifteen minute swim. My first of 2020! Finally, I’ve got into the water!
The shallows around Brown Howe are not very deep and I never swam out of my comfort zone. Coniston Water will never be my favourite swim but I am grateful to be able to tick it off my swim map!
Once dry and changed into another swimsuit, David and I headed towards Beacon Tarn, which was an hours walk from Brown Howe. We puffed and panted on a not so very steep path through Blawith Common. Quarantine has effected our fitness. We are so out of condition! Have you felt that way too? Keeping us entertained on our walk were fritillary and skipper butterflies which bobbed about the ferns, too quick for me to take a picture though. It didn’t take long for the vista to open up, Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man to the west and Coniston Water to the east. It was so nice to be back in the fells!
David on the path
Pano of Old Man and Coniston Water
David on the path again
On arrival at Beacon Tarn there were a few campers and naturists!! It was hard to avert our eyes! David found a wonderful spot for me to enter the water and we quickly made base. I faffed about getting ready with a mean wind from the south. The water was colder than Coniston but after getting into the water I soon warmed up and had a most peaceful swim. Though there were a few people about, it was much quieter than Coniston and we all respected the serenity of the area.
Beacon Tarn swim
Beacon Tarn swim
Beacon Tarn swim
From where I swam the shore shelved sharply and you got swimming quickly but visibility in the water was poor. I had a wonderful fifteen minutes swim with pipits bobbing over the water and azure damselflies zipping about the shoreline. The sun peaked out from behind a cloud every now and again which made getting dry much easier.
We picnicked while other people took to the waters before we made our way back towards Brown Howe car park.
I am so relieved to be back swimming. Have you missed doing an activity due to covid?
Day 28: For today’s 30 Days Wild, David and I, with Riley in tow took a three mile meander around Port Sunlight River Park. The weather was showery, with a light breeze. The sun was warm but not warm enough to coax butterflies from their shelter. On arrival we spotted a kestrel hunting, house martins flew over the lake and we sat and rested while listening to skylarks nesting in the scrub. I even saw a new plant, St John’s Wort which a bumblebee was enjoying.
What’s your favourite place to go nature spotting?
After a tremendous swim in Glaslyn, I had hoped to extend my wild swimming season by a month or so. Unfortunately I never made it into the water before Christmas, however much I had wanted too. Then I’d planned on a New Year swim at Coniston but with no planned walk for the day my hopes fizzled away like a firework. Though 2020 has been really slow to start (even slower than 2019!) my mind is already dreaming of the year ahead and I am looking forward to many wild swim/walks this year.
I’ve already booked a four nights break for my birthday, at a loch-side cabin in Scotland’s Trossachs National Park. With 22 loch’s I am spoiled for choice! Just looking at the variety of lochs, such as Katrine, Venachar and Lubnaig, I’m already getting super excited!
Loch Katrine (Google Image)
Loch Venachar (Google Image)
Loch Lubnaig (Google Image)
For my first swim this season I am hoping to tick off the Eskdale Blea Tarn! I’ve already swam the other two! Langdale, and Watendlath. I’ve read blogs and seen pictures of the Eskdale Blea Tarn and I am eager to get back into the water. It’s just a matter of logistics with car parking.
Blea Tarn Eskdale (Google Image)
Though I’ve always wanted to swim in Grisedale Tarn, perhaps it’s height position may deter me?
Grisedale Tarn (Google Image)
The resting place of the crown of Cumbria may have to wait. However this year I do intend to swim in Helvellyn’s Red Tarn and Blea Water of Haweswater fame. I think both these tarns are achievable.
Red Tarn (Google Image)
Blea Water (Google Image)
Again Coniston is the only ‘large’ lake I’ve not swam in and the Old Man of Coniston has many swimmable waters, e.g. levers and goat’s. I’ll aim for these this year.
Hopefully we’ll be able to bring Riley with us again on our Lake District adventures and introduce him to swimming in Ullswater!
In Snowdonia, I hope to tick off Llyn Padarn and Gwynant.
They seem the two easiest of the llyns I have my eye on! Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas and Llyn Du’r Arddu of Snowdon fame may be a bit of a hike.
Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas (Google Image)
Llyn Du’r Arddu (Google image)
However, Llyn Nantlle and Llyn Cwm Silyn Uchaf, again will have issues with logistics. If you know of places to park and walking routes, do let me know.
llyn cwm silyn uchaf by Mud and routes
So there you have a brief glimpse into my mind for the wild swim year ahead. If you have any swim suggestions, do let me know.