Wow, where’s the time gone. It feels an absolute age since we had a proper adventure and really, other than the odd night down on Dartmoor it has been a while.
The last time we went out properly was between Christmas and New Year 2019, when we scrambled up the Devils Kitchen from Cwm Idwal and up onto the Glyderau. We were treated with a cloud inversion and it truly felt like we had ascended to heaven.
A couple of months later the whole world started to come apart as our plans were put on hold and we were put under lockdown. All those places we held dear were out of bounds. The National Parks, designated for public enjoyment, were restricted to those with a local postcode. For those of us fortunate to live in one of the beautiful places, National Parks or otherwise it was difficult. For those trapped in the urban sprawl, well, I can only imagine.
As restrictions eased, domestic holidays offered a brief respite from gazing at 4 walls and people flocked in never before seen numbers to our special places. And those secret, special places were no longer ours alone.
Those of us who respect and cherish our access to the countryside, to our National Parks, to our tiny tranquil oasis of wilderness were astonished and disgusted by the levels of litter, of disrespect, of entitlement shown by these new visitors. We, as a family, decided not to add our weight to the burden on our special places. There’s always next year.
The litter was a bit of a shock to me. I couldn’t believe people were littering in the way they were. I was disappointed in the sense that people could just drop litter and walk awayhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/01/the-litter-was-a-shock-2020-covid-rush-on-uk-national-parks
So summer came and went, and so did further lock downs and further restrictions. And while the headlines during summer 2021 weren’t anywhere near as disappointing as the previous year, we still felt a need to stay away. We nipped to Dartmoor for 2 nights but our hearts just weren’t in it.
So now as we head into a third summer where visitors numbers and pressure on our parks and trails will be high, I have a decision to make.
The 7th principle of Leave No Trace, the ethics by which we carry ourselves in the out of doors, says to be considerate of others. That’s what we’ve done for the last two years. We’ve respected our impact on the communities and landscapes that we love visiting and passing through. But what price have those principles demanded.
On the day we reached the summit of Glyder Fach, and gazed in wonder at the blanket of cloud stretched out beneath us, our eldest was 12. He’ll be 15 by summers end which, by my reckoning gives us two more summers, this one and next, before we can no longer drag him into the hills against his will. Two more summers to create memories he’ll carry into adulthood, to shape his relationship with these places we love so very much, two more summers to spend time with him, in cool places with no distractions.
So it’s time for us to take our turn, to have adventures and teach our children how to be responsible and respectful custodians of our countryside. Time for us to climb mountains and swim in rivers and sleep under the stars. Time for us to get on the trail
No more f***ing about.