"It’s Make Your Mind Up Time"

I’m old enough to remember that catchphrase, but I guess many people reading this will not be and many who do will not remember it’s origin. So answers on a postcard, in your own handwriting, or append a comment if you can tell me who made it famous and what show he used to present!

Anyway, I’m not writing about cheesy old TV shows, but the phrase relates directly to the problem I have at the moment. It’s been two or three weeks since I posted “Trig to Trig 2014” and I’m still no closer to booking any accommodation, or indeed to working out the proposed route. I have the first day pretty much finalised, but I’m not really happy with that if I’m honest.

The problem is two-fold; too little spare time and too many irons in the fire. My major commitment in terms of time is the Pennine Way Guide Book update and that’s taking most of my spare evening hours at the moment. I’m also struggling to muster any enthusiasm for a 14 day walk and this is a huge shock to me.

Every year since 2006 I’ve booked a walking holiday – I’ve not always finished it (2007 on Offa’s Dyke and last year in the Southern Upland Way), but the thought of them has always kept me going over the winter months and focussed my training in the usually grim weeks in January and February. This year though I think I want to do something different, but I’m not sure.

Camping with Matt (@hillplodder) in the Dales
Camping with Matt (@hillplodder) in the Dales

I really enjoyed the short four or five day breaks I took at the back end of last year, to walk sections of the Pennine Way. Some were done backpacking with my tent, some in B&Bs, some alone and some with company and I loved the mix of experiences that gave me. It was also something to look forward to; usually booked two or three weeks in advance, about as short notice as I think I can get away with at work, they were short, sweet and plentiful. I’m beginning to think that may be the best way to enjoy my fewer holiday days next year.

Going from 27 days with my previous employer to 20 days with my current one means I have to be frugal, I have to make the most of weekends and Bank Holidays and if I blow 10 or 11 of them on one long trip I may end up being restricted towards the end of the year.

So I’m thinking that “Trig to Trig” may be postponed until another year and 2014 may be a year of mini-breaks, exploring many different areas of the country, with my tent when I can and using B&Bs when they are available and the weather is poor. I’m already thinking about trips to Dartmoor and the Northern Pennines as well as some extended trips to the Western Fells in the Lakes and exploring some of the more remote sections I haven’t yet explored properly in the Yorkshire Dales.

I want to spend more time on the hills with the friends I’ve made over the past few years; I’m beginning to feel that backpacking (for me at least) is more enjoyable when it’s a social event. My favourite trips last year were the “Four Go Mad in the Peak District” weekend and the “Pennine Way with Matt” – I want more of those and I don’t mind sacrificing two weeks on my own to achieve that.

Heading up to Shining Tor (courtesy of @PilgrimChris)
Heading up to Shining Tor (courtesy of @PilgrimChris)

This is a big change for me, perhaps next year I will have missed the long solo walk and be planning another big one for 2015. I’m still feeling gutted about having to cancel my Lands End – John O’Groats walk this year and perhaps this is a subconscious reaction to that.

7 thoughts on “"It’s Make Your Mind Up Time"”

  1. I did a fair amount of LDP walking last year in the UK and beyond. Among the most memorable parts was backpacking on Dartmoor. I think there are endless opportunities in the park — with great pitches and terrific walking over two or three nights. In fact, in my experience, shorter walks are optimal for backpacking, especially wild camping. Two or three nights out and one is ready for a hot shower….

  2. It’s not compulsory Stuart to do a LDP every year. I’d say it’s the change in holiday allowance that has focused your mind. You can always make up your own ‘Stuarts Way’ to last 5,6, or 7 days. Part of the fun of that is knowing it’s all your own work.
    I think when the time comes again you’ll pick up where you left off. Good luck with your pontificating.

    1. I certainly plan to do a couple of 5-6 day walks – using the weekends only hits for me 3-4 days of holiday. I want to spend some time in the Cheviots, away from the Pennine Way route and Kielder looks great on the map, perfect for exploring perhaps. I need to spend some time away from pies too, else I’ll never climb any hills this year 🙂

  3. I guess you should never expect things to stay the same, and our tastes do change over time. Certainly I’ve embraced the social side of trips to the hills a lot more in the last couple of years, and particularly so for the shorter getaways. Somehow it now feels a bit less important to be completing a mission (be that bagging things or completing a long “achievement” walk) and a bit more about extracting the maximum enjoyment. Some of the best hill experiences of the last couple of years have, to my surprise at the time, been those not done alone (refer to above pictures and links for examples!)

    1. Very true and good point about changing tastes, it has just come as something of a surprise to me! I’m hoping we can get at least a couple of long weekends away together this year.

  4. I enjoyed that weekend too. For me it’s the other way round as I have loads of time but not much in the way of resources 🙂 I guess it’s about finding a balance and doing enough to keep you happy.

    1. Balance is definitely the key I think. And I guess the greater number of short walks will enable me to achieve that. I can balance the walking across the year as well as balance the places I walk and the type of trips I do.

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