My outdoor highlights and favorites of 2014 and some plans for 2015

Another year done! As usually at this time of year, I am torn between thoughtfulness and contemplation as I mull over the highs and lows of the previous year, and excitement for the new year to come. From an outdoor perspective, 2014 was not quite what I had planned, yet it was still full of some fantastic experiences. My resolution was, as well as the regular dog walks, to have at least one outdoor day or trip each month. Unfortunately ongoing back problems meant a good chunk of the year was spent at stretched out on the sofa, yet, according to Social Hiking, I still managed to walk 184 miles (with about 31000 feet altitude gain) and bag 129 peaks (mostly Dartmoor tors) over 24 hikes across the year (excluding regular dog walks). Here is a summary of my outdoor highlights in 2014, a few 2014 favorites (an idea inspired by Matt – @hillplodder) and some plans for 2015.

2014 Highlights

January

Rich on Bow Brickhill

A local walk to kick off the new year (after a few quieter outdoor years) – a 14 mile loop around Bow Brickhill, just South of Milton Keynes with Rich (@flintyrich) [related blog post]

Viaduct over River Avon

My first walk in Scotland (as an adult) – following the River Avon Heritage Trail, in West Lothian, with Paul (@iomadh) [related blog post]

February

Sunset in the Chilterns

An outdoor day in the Chilterns with Rich (@FlintyRich) and Kate (@DiveSciDiva) [social hiking map]

March

Spent mostly on the sofa in agony 🙁

April

More sofa time with a few tentative short local walks, including a short wander in Salcey Forest with Alex (@winkysmileyface)

May

More sofa time, although I did manage a weekend in the (glorious) peak district camping and mooching with a few Social Hikers

June

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Although my back had not recovered enough to take part, I headed to the Lake District to support Team Social Hiking taking part in the 10in10 to raise money in aid of MS Society [related blog post]

July

Group photo at Sheepstor

After a final health check walk with Adrian (@turbostream) [related blog post], it was the start of my Dartmoor obsession with a weekend tor bagging with Paul (@paulgbuck), Kate (@divescidiva) and Neil (@neilrooke) [related blog post]

August

Windmill on Newnham Hill

Not much free time, but managed to fit in the ‘Northamptonshire Three Peaks’ [social hiking map]

September

Outdoor swim in Foggertor Quarry

A fantastic week on Dartmoor (mostly with @paulgbuck) – 60+ miles walked, 67 tors bagged, 5 wild camps and 3 outdoor swims [related blog category – I am still writing up the blog posts!]

October

View from the Ridgeway

Visiting Ivinghoe Beacon, The Ridgeway and Bridgewater Monument, followed by a evening around a camp fire, with Kate (@divescidiva) and Kate [social hiking map]

November

Pew Tor

Another fantastic weekend on Dartmoor, this time with Matt (@hillplodder), Cath (@wellycath), Paul (@paulgbuck), Jim, Dean (@DeanRead), Rik (@richardhubbuck) and Rick (@flintyrich) [social hiking map]

December

Looking out over Surrey (photo by Keith Foskett)

A hike in the Surrey Hills with Keith (@KeithFoskett – who took the photo above) and Janine from RouteBuddy [social hiking map]

The final hike of the year was a wander around Salcey Forest with Kate [social hiking map]

2014 Favourites

Based almost entirely on Matt’s Ploddies (including most of the categories) – here are my favorites of the year:

  • Day walk of the year – River Avon Heritage Trail [January]
  • Multi-day backpack of the year – Cranbrook Castle, Butterdon Down & River Teign valley [September]
  • New Dartmoor Tor of the year – Leather Tor [July]
  • Old favourite Dartmoor Tor of the year – Pew Tor [July, September and November]
  • Best wild camp – Bivvy on Great Mis Tor [September]
  • Sunset / sunrise of the year – Sunrise on Great Mis Tor [September]
  • Adventure of the year – Swimming in Foggintor Quarry [September]
  • Best new gear – Snugpak Stratosphere Bivvy
  • Best old gear – Chocolate Fish Baselayer
  • Pub of the year – Plume of Feathers, Princetown [November]
  • Bonus peak of the year – Richmond Park (at a wedding) [October]

Plans for 2015

And so it is time to turn my thoughts to what the new year will bring. Again it is my intention to have an outdoor trip each month, as well as having at least one camp each month (wild or domestic).

There will definitely be a Social Hiking team taking part in the 10-in-10 again in June, and this time I am aiming to be fit enough to take part (if not the 10-in-over-10, then the 5-in-5!) – anyone is more than welcome to join the team for a social weekend, a hike in the Lakes and raising money for MS Society!

I have a few ideas for a few multi-day trips nearer to home including The Battlefield Trail, the Knightly Way & Grafton Way, the Greensand Ridge Walk, and the Northamptonshire Round.

and there will certainly be at least a few trips to Dartmoor…….

A selection of books on Dartmoor

Thank you to everyone who made 2014 🙂

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