If there’s one thing I don’t like so much about the Kent landscape (which I will otherwise wax lyrical about) it’s that it’s a little bit too flat.
I probably shouldn’t complain about that too much, because if it wasn’t then we’d all have to perform hill-starts more regularly, and would probably have slipped over countless more times in this past, particularly icy week. Plus, I can still feel my heart crunch when I recall younger times trying to carry my weekly grocery shop up a particularly steep alleyway in Lancaster that always felt as challenging to conquer as I imagined the ascending travelator on Gladiators would (the sausage roll and fags diet probably didn’t help with that, mind).
Either way, when you’re used to living in a county which is predominately flat – albeit beautiful – it’s easy to forget just how massively diverse the landscape is across the rest of the UK. Only in relatively recent years have I really started to realise and appreciate this; and because to get to these places requires resources which we don’t always have spare, it makes any opportunity to see them that little bit more precious.
I was absolutely stunned by Snowdonia when a close friend who grew up there first showed me around her home, to the extent where it seemed hard to believe that it shares the same island as the likes of the M25. Fresh air, clear water, wild ponies roaming around in heather-topped hills, and other mesmerising panoramics, were in abundance, and the best thing is that they were all free to see, and get completely lost in. As a bit cringe as the saying may sound, Snowdonia is an area that truly feeds the soul and I try to return whenever I can for some ‘lunch’. Every time I go, I realise I have still only seen a small fraction of it. My friend says that she often wished there had been more for young people in North Wales to do whilst she was growing up – more cinema complexes and McDonalds like we had plenty of in Watford – and I tell her that I often wished I’d had mountains and lakes nearby, instead of concrete consumerism and pollution. I always sucked at bowling anyway.

Both of us craving mountains over the Christmas break – but with North Wales seeming too far for the time we had – on New Years’ Eve we decided to visit the Peak District for a day, another area which I know shamefully little about and had only visited once previously. We spent the afternoon walking up Mam Tor – a route recommended by Much Better Adventures – and from the peak looked out at a huge expanse of land consisting of multiple counties of northern England. We also read a bit about the famous caves – some of which were still inhabited at the turn of the 20th century – and found out about the limestone quarries the area is famous for. It was a very wet, windy and slippery day (made more challenging by the fact neither of us were wearing the right shoes) but the harsh gradients enabled us to give our legs a good stretch so that by the time we eventually got back to the car – covered in mud and exhausted – we felt deserving and ready for some stodgy food at the pub. It had been a good workout and an even better exploration of some dramatic yet beautiful – and completely new to us – scenery. Well worth the four hour drive.

We weren’t there for long but it was enough time to make a big impression. I have been thinking about it a lot since, and have many daydreams about going back and seeing more of it. And so, since it’s January and a time to traditionally look ahead, I suppose it’s reasonable to state the following: I have absolutely no idea what assortment of good, bad or bizarre things 2023 may conjure up but as long as it features some hills and mountains, that’s okay 😉

Song the Day: Mikron – Lyre

Feeling electronica at the moment! This is a nice chilled piece from a duo of Irish brothers. One of those songs you can file away in ‘perfect for driving at night or working to’.