The Great Outdoors – July 2021
English | 102 pages | pdf | 24.47 MB

A sidestep from ordinary life

A FEW WEEKS AGO, I wild camped next to a high tarn on a wide moorland plateau in the Yorkshire Dales, having hastily cobbled together the contents of a backpack to take advantage of a window of good weather.
We arrived at our campsite in the golden light of the evening, with golden plovers speeding through the sky in tight formations around us. On the way, we’d seen two short-eared owls hunting through the peat groughs, heard the bubbling sounds of a curlew, and seen a ‘drumming’ snipe whirling around high above us in its strange mating display, the wind in its wings making a noise like a UFO taking off.
Even before pitching camp, there was a sense that we had entered another world, a lonely tableland populated by enigmatic wildlife, where civilization felt much further away than it was. We watched the burning orange sun set over the water, woke to the sound of a grouse cackling near the tent in the night, and ate breakfast with a buzzard circling above us. I demurred at the prospect of a frigid morning dip, and contented myself with a paddle on a sandy mini-beach that sloped into the tarn next to our tent. The feeling of packing away, starting walking, and already being high in the hills at the very start of the day never gets old.
It was only a day-and-a-half outing; but it was my first wild camp since lockdown loosened, and it was enough to act as a reminder of how powerful even a relatively brief sidestep from ordinary life can be – how it can reset your perspective and invigorate your spirits.
The main theme of this Magazine issue is a celebration of big adventures in the sort of short time frames many of us have to cope with when it comes to mountain fun. Some might baulk at the prospect of fitting a classic, 155km (96-mile) trail like the West Highland Way into just three days – a mere long weekend – but in his feature on p36, James Forrest shows that it can be done, with the help of a bit of ultralight packing and a lot of determination. Hanna Lindon rounds up Britain’s best ‘bite-sized’ adventures on p12, while on p46 Ronald Turnbull looks back on his pick of 100 summit bivvies – perhaps the ultimate kind of ‘micro adventure’.
Just for variety’s sake, Ursula Martin’s feature on continuing a
long-distance walk through Europe over the last year (p62), despite lockdowns and pandemic pressures, is the very opposite of a short excursion – but what an extraordinary story it is. And David Lintern’s backpacking journey through the overlooked Flowerdale hills (p54) during a spell of glorious anticyclone weather is the sort of experience we all crave during the summer months.
There’s plenty more, of course – but I’ll let you discover it for yourself. Here’s to all adventures, big or small!

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