Over the past few years, as I’ve looked for inspiration in my weekend walks, I’ve used little projects to bring together walks that have a theme in common. This may be hills in a certain area, like the Howgills or the Bowland Fells, or they may centre around a specific hill, like Kinder Scout.
I’m hoping to use this page to bring together all the walks I’ve undertaken as part of these mini-projects and share them – perhaps as inspiration for others to get out there and explore our wonderful scenery.
Each of the sections below will take you to a main introduction page of each project. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed walking them (well most of them anyway)!
If you enjoy quiet walks in the hills, away from the sort of crowds you get in the Lake District, but still want to achieve high and remote walks, then you should consider the Howgill Fells. These are the rolling green giants you see to your right as you speed along the M6, northwards between J37 and J38 – I’ve been admiring these hills for as long as I’ve been driving that motorway, which is almost 30 years. Originally it was disconnected admiration, just the respect of a beautiful landscape, often wreathed in cloud or dusted with snow, in their brown winter drab or their gorgeous green summer coats.
A recent walk up to the famous Kinder Scout plateau in the Peak District got me thinking about all the other routes I’d used to reach this huge, peaty summit. I could think of at least five just off the top of my head and that got me wondering just how many established routes up to the top there actually were. By established I mean a path on the ground, ideally showing up on the OS 1:25k scale map as a dotted black line, or a green Right of Way path. At this point I have 22 routes which I need to walk!
The Settle-Carlisle line runs through the heart of the Dales and stops conveniently at many rural stations along the way. This gives fantastic access to the surrounding fells and allows for the creation of many linear walks between stations. Taking advantage of this I have often left my car at one station, caught a train to a station further along the line and then walked back to my car. This ‘project’ is a collection of all those walks and includes day walks as well as multi-day walks.
This project originally concentrated on a rather unscientific collection of 31 hills with spot heights over 2000 feet, many in Yorkshire and some not (although they would have been at some point in the past). It didn’t include an almost equal number of hills with spot heights (on the OS maps) over 2000 feet, that had been omitted for no logical reason. It now adheres to the list generated by Johnny Smith, called the Dales 30, the highest 30 hills inside the Dales National Park boundary.
After completing my rather arbitrary “Top 30” project, I decided to create a much larger list of hills, using the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which is a much easier boundary to identify than the English county of “Yorkshire” and is not confused by historic county boundaries or irrational hill inclusions. The hills within this boundary must be recognised by the “Database of British and Irish Hills” and the result is my Yorkshire Dales Tops list.
The “Wainwrights” are the Lake District mountains, hills, fells, crags and tops described by Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. There are seven of these books, all reproduced in his own script with the fine line drawings that made him famous. The seven books contain 214 catalogued summits, classified by geographical location. I did my first Wainwright without even knowing it, when I climbed Coniston Old Man in July of 2005. I hadn’t even heard of Alfred Wainwright at that time and the Lakeland fells were a complete mystery to me.
At the back end of 2014 an article, publicised through Twitter, caught my eye – and it would seem, the eyes of many other walkers and backpackers. The article was from Alistair Humphreys and it discussed the idea of getting out into the hills, for at least one night every month in 2015. He calls them MicroAdventures and they can be anything you want them to be, but the idea is you get out and about, have a bit of fun and sleep outdoors. More details on Al’s site here: A Year of MicroAdventures