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THE NEED FOR NATURE.
When I was around eleven years old I was introduced to a family friend who just happened to be the chairperson of a local rambling club. It was here that my love of the outdoors and my quest for seeing new places, experiencing different terrains and furthering my knowledge of surroundings the U.K. has to offer was accelerated.
When out with the club five out of seven of the walks we did was in the Lake District, as it is the nearest epic collection of hills to our home town Chorley. I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on a Lakeland fell. I was instantly hooked.
I walked with the club for around five or so years, every other Sunday without fail. I also found a passion for rock climbing and joined a local indoor wall, as well as frequenting quarries and other known local climbing locations. Camping was often combined with Wainwright walks in the Lake District or hiking Munros in Scotland.
As I approached my twenties I was defeated by the temptations of a different kind of social lifestyle. My outdoor pursuits activities slowly dwindled next to nothing. For the next ten or so years, a sense of guilt lured me out of my hole every couple of years and I'd visit a route I knew well.
Pavy Ark in the Langdales via Jacks Rake is a favourite route of mine, and so I'd attack it, at a pace reminiscent of more dedicated days. After which I would suffer for a week, and be sore from head to toe. I found over time that others I'd known to be regulars on the fells had also fallen by the wayside and no longer ventured out much.
I now have two sons aged one and three, the eldest named Joe is showing a strong inclination towards a love of all things outdoors. To see the awe and wonder it invokes within him has reminded me of the awe and wonder it creates within me, and how to abandon the pursuit of that wonder is a bad thing.
If I think back through my life up until now, the fondest memories I have are always connected to nature in some way or another. Maybe a camping trip with my girlfriend, or an epic day in the Lake District, the memories they leave you with are timeless. There are quite a few days I know are confined to the back of your mind, because all you see is the cloud, mist and the inside of your waterproof hood.
I feel that those kinds of days make the good ones oh so much better.
It's time for me to stop being lame, stop making excuses and to make some positive plans for the future, plans that involve being outside. Plans that involve seeing new places, reigniting my love of the outdoors and in the process show my sons the benefits of a life closely connected with nature. I believe a strong respect for planet Earth should always be nurtured in the young.
In a rough estimate I think that I've visited around 40 Wainwrights, maybe a little more, I've probably done about Ten or Fifteen Munros as well. The odd few have been frequented more than once but now those outings are only fading memories. I didn't even own a camera at the time, so not many pictures either.
A belief was always held by me that I would hike all the hills, fells and mountains in the Lake District and Scotland, an arduous task, but a worthy crusade! In fact, the more I think about it, the more I feel that this is still exactly what I intend to do.
I feel it is my duty to show my sons the awesome times to be had in the great outdoors, and to in turn further their confidence and knowledge of the world around them.
I'm going to work up from the bottom of the Wainwrights with Castle Crag in the Lake District, and I think young Joe is about ready to tackle some of the smaller fells with me. Owen, my youngest son can join us when he's mastered his legs a little better! He is after all only one-year-old. Check our Wainwrights progress here.
Don't get me wrong I'm not the sort of person to just monotonously and systematically start to tick off all the Lakeland fells, I do like to mix things up with camping excursions and general jaunts to other parts of the country. Scotland for one is an amazing place to indulge any amount of wanderlust and nature appreciation you may have. Scotland has a lot of wilderness to explore, and a vast diversity of wildlife to appreciate.
On a recent camping trip to the Dumfries coast I spotted an Otter, a rare and lucky sighting, and one I'll never forget (didn't have a camera to hand!) Scotland and the Scottish Highlands are my all time favourite places to get some me time, just watch out for the infamous midges. They are vicious.
For me, ExploreMoreUK.com is a way to focus my efforts, a way to jump start my quest to see as much of my home country as possible, and at the same time document it, so it doesn't become a faded memory in the future.
It would be inspiring to me if anyone cared to read about my exploits, and even more amazing if I inspire someone else to get out of their comfort zone, to go and see something they have never seen, and go to visit somewhere they have never been.
We all need to Explore More U.K.