May I wish you a very Happy New Year ! I hope you had a good break of Christmas and are now looking forward to the next twelve months.
In common with a lot of people I like to use this time to plan ahead, setting myself some goals to inspire and motivate me throughout the year. It’s partly about keeping fit but mostly about finding some new experiences that give me something to aim for.
Plans don’t always work out of course, and sometimes they get substituted for something a little different. So before I reveal my plans for 2017, how did I get on in 2016 ?
Well, my goals at the start of 2016 were a combination of five ‘set piece’ activities plus a number of other, as yet unspecified, adventures:
- Becoming a qualified Mountain Leader: I’m proud to say that I achieved this in September after completing the gruelling training and assessment (together with gaining more mountain experience in between) over a period of two years. Read my post if you’re interested in embarking on this, highly recommended, journey.
- Ticking off all the 3000-footers in mainland Britain: After having already climbed the munros and all bar one of the Lake District 3000 footers I climbed Skiddaw in April followed by the 15 Welsh peaks in the Carneddau, Glyders and the Snowdon Horseshoe in July.
- Doing some more cycle touring: I’d hoped to enjoy a series of day and multi-day cycle rides, perhaps including the C2C from Whitehaven to Sunderland. In the end, my nephew and I chose to cycle from Mull to Mallaig over three days, followed by a journey on (according to Wanderlust magazine) the world’s best railway – the West Highland Line – to Fort William.
- Going on a kayak/camping trip: Of the five ‘set piece’ activities this is the only one I didn’t manage to complete. The kayak stayed in the garage (best laid plans and all that …) and I focused on climbing hills instead. I did join my local Canoe Club however (see below).
- Making and drinking wild cocktails: This one was a little different and involved foraging in a local wood (and the garden) to make various infusions and syrups for cocktails. Most of it was a great success ! The raspberry and thyme syrup was just divine as a mixer with gin. The Woodland Martini (pine-infused vodka with charred sage syrup) was also delicious. But perhaps the simplest and most popular was the Blackcurrant Gin I made for Christmas – I think we polished off about a litre of the stuff on Christmas Day !!
In between all of this I really enjoyed a perfect day winter walking in deep powder snow in November, with the mountains surrounded by a ‘sea’ of cloud atop a temperature inversion. I raced in the Aviemore 10k, organised and attended VW campervan meets in Glen Nevis and Eskdale, became a tourism Ambassador for VisitScotland, supported Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, skied in the French Alps, chased the northern lights and enjoyed some fantastic summit-top winter wild camps near Loch Etive and Loch Turret.
So what’s in store for 2017 ?
Without giving too much away I think you can safely say there’ll be quite a bit more of the same ! In fact, I have a list of ten likely adventures:
- Camping – in a tent, wigwam and campervan
- Climbing mountains
- Sea kayaking
- Bungee jumping (at night, in the dark, without any lights)
- Cycle touring
- Island hopping
Some of these are already in the planning, others just vague notions. I’m not aiming to enter any races but just compete against myself. All are pretty exciting and some – well, one of them – downright scary. Can you guess which one ??
This year I’m a Duke of Edinburgh expedition leader for the first time and looking forward to taking a group of fourteen 14-year olds out on their Bronze training and assessment weekends. I really enjoy helping to stretch their horizons, many of whom have never been hiking or camping before. I’m planning to spend a bit more time cycling than last year and having joined my local canoe/kayak club I’d like to go on sea kayaking day trips with them as well as take a longer trip over several days on the West coast.
So it promises to be a year of great variety ! Whatever you’re planning to do this year, I hope all your dreams and aspirations come to fruition.