When we started 2016 we had no idea we would end it having ambled over 191 miles across 22 walks.
It all started in mid-July when a friend was showing us some of the highlights of Northumberland and at Yeavering he said did we want to have a bit of a walk. I said yes, so we found ourselves up what I think was St Gregory’s Hill, grinning like loons.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how happy we were up there, so I investigated public transport into the Dales. As an urban creature aware of cuts to rural public transport I’d always assumed that was clearly a non-starter, but after a bit of research, the last weekend of July saw us take our first baby steps with a walk on Ilkley Moor.
At the end of the year this is still somewhat unexpected. The refrain most of the year was “If we’re still walking in…” because it was always obvious that this was never going to last. But though we’ve not yet seen the worst of a Yorkshire winter out in the hills I think it’s fair to say I’m in love.
There are all the obvious joys – an opportunity to switch off, the exercise, the quality time together – but most of all I find our walks to be a stroll through my imagination which haunt me for weeks.
Layers and layers of history, from geological time and the great climactic changes that shaped our land through to radical history and the non-conformists who dreamed of a New Jerusalem.
There is a joy in the simple motion of walking, the rhythm which rolls on for hours. With a pack on my back I am free. I am not fast, I set no records for distance, and I neither climb nor scramble, but I can walk.
And I may not stray far from home, or conquer many walkers’ tick lists, but as I criss-cross that patch of earth accessible to me, every step roots me that little bit deeper to this land, its history, and its people.
Here’s to 2017!