By the end of 2021 I was exhausted. COVID had caught me over the Christmas period as the loss of my Mum began to take its toll. I hoped 2022 would give me time to rest and reflect. I certainly reflected, but spent much of the year on the road, on the sea and on the mountain..!
I’m a planner – I like to plan and prepare for my expeditions, speaking gigs and even my shopping. The 2022 Kendal Mountain Festival was on its way, so I watched my films, prepared my weekend diary and trying my best to help the environment, I booked trains from Derbyshire to the Lakes.
The phrase ‘Climate Emergency’ has brought forth a plethora of marketing opportunities and the internet is filled with people banging on about their ‘Green Credentials’. Whether you are a ‘Greenwasher’ or not, we can take simple steps to reduce our impact on the planet; the kit we use and the clothes we wear can have an enormous affect.
It didn’t seem five minutes since I had returned from Sea Kayaking in Greenland, before I was heading north again. This time it was to mountaineer, but the sea would play it’s part also. I joined Simon Yates to head towards Mikis Fjord and tackle a myriad of unclimbed peaks.
I’ve never been good on boats, in fact I can get sea sick just looking at one, so the idea of sailing from Iceland the the Greenlandic coast filled me with fear. I loaded up my kit bag with coats, crampons and kwells in the hope of keeping myself something like sane. It promised to be kill or cure.
I’ve visited Greenland a number of times, but always to ski and climb. The sea terrified me, but I was about to spend my next trip sat on my backside in a kayak. What had changed..?
The reason I ended up on my arse is pure chance. I was working on a P&O cruise ship touring the Norwegian Fjords and we docked at Bergen. I joined a day trip kayaking on an inlet close by and there met Laila Reigstad. We got on like a house on fire and stayed in touch, exchanging all kinds of thoughts and ideas about kayaking, but I was a complete novice and needed guidance. Laila filled me with confidence and offered to train me and so eventually I ended up to my backside in the sea. Sadly Covid came and put all our ideas on ice, but now we can travel again, Ice is where we’ve been.
Whilst the UK was baking, I headed north to the land of the Nanook to cool down. I met fellow paddlers Christian and Ketil in Copenhagen, before we crossed the seas to Greenland.
Training is vital to successful expedition work. I’ve always believed in ‘Serving Your Apprenticeship’ and have recently returned from a week Sea Kayaking in the Norwegian Fjords.
A chance meeting when working on a P&O cruise ship has taken me down a whole new avenue of traveling and expeditions. I’ve paddled canoes and kayaks on and off for years, but never thought I’d be preparing for a trip to the fjords of Greenland this year.
Two winter seasons had been missed due to the ‘C’ Word and it was time to return. Rather than plan a week in one area, my friend Dean and I were going for a flexible approach, armed with guidebooks, gear and his well kitted plastering van.
If COVID has taught us anything, it is the desire to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Though this is a wonderful privilege, it comes at a cost and an onus, and its repercussions will be felt for generations. It is easy to use occurrences such as the Kinder Trespass of 1932 as a justification for greater land access, yet over the past 18 months I have been able to witness another mass trespass across these beautiful isles.
I’ve always believed in fresh air and exercise for both physical and mental health. The Peak District has always been on my doorstep and I’ve been a regular visitor for all of my 52 years. The picture above was taken about 1976 in the Winnats Pass with my big Sister Amanda and my Nannars Dog Sally..!
I was recently contacted by Ben Baumann of the Roots of Reality Podcast. Ben is an historian from the United States of America and has always been fascinated by life’s greatest questions: Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here? And where are we going? As a result, he decided to become a historian with a focus on the history of existence in the big picture and how it connects to our modern world, with the goal of taking our complex history and making it easy to understand.