“Pain is temporary, quitting lasts for ever”.
I have enjoyed walking the fells and mountains of the UK all my life although it is only in the last 5 years that my hobby has become my job.
My walking experience falls in to 3 distinct phases.
1. Young. The vast majority of my family holidays were spent at a small cottage in the village of Threlkeld, 3 miles from Keswick. Here my father took a fairly reluctant son and his friend out on the fells of the Lake District. Weather conditions were irrelevant and in today’s sanitised society some of the walks would be described as brutal. However they gave me a solid grounding in the outdoors; never a place of fear always of opportunity.
Gradually my dad’s knees stopped him joining us and the Wainwright books started to direct my efforts. They are still part of my motivation and simply the best guide books written, by a country mile. By my late teens and early 20s I had completed a first round of Wainwrights and was leading groups of friends into the hills.
2. In my 20s and 30s. My brother Barry introduced me to the Munros in my early 20s and for over 15 years they dominated my walking life. Long weekends taken alone or with Barry, Alistair, JP and Bracken (my gorgeous first dog) were dominated with assaults on that tough list of ticks. Routes needed to be planned meticulously, map reading (on 1/50,000) was vital, as on occasions was accurate compass work, but it was still hard work on the hill.
Tents and bothies became part of my life. Even so the days were long, anyone who has walked continually on rough ground for up to 12 hours at a stretch will know the physical and mental exhaustion it brings. However this served to increase my confidence of walking in our wildest lands and I came to love the freedom and exhilaration of being in such a remote and challenging environment.
3. As a Family Man. However the Munros and Tops were completed and I cut back on the long drive up the M74 to Scotland. My job had taken me to the Yorkshire Dales and I had a young family so I turned closer to home for my walking fix. First of all I completed my Mountain Leader course but soon started exploring the Yorkshire Dales.
I was still driven by summits (principally because it gives me a focus for a walk, which I like) but I also took the family on non hill walks, increasing my understanding of this fantastic area that I live in. Family holidays have nearly always been taken in Scotland or the Lakes and, weather permitting, there is no better place to be.
A hobby became a living in the summer of 2010. At the time I was running the largest cottage rental agency in Yorkshire, Dales Holiday Cottages, but sadly they were taken over and the office closed. However the experienced gained at Dales Cottages and my previous ten years at English Country Cottages and Hoseasons had given me the experience and knowledge to harness my love of walking with a business opportunity; selling the ‘dream’ of enjoying walking and holidaying in the rugged areas of North of England.
The enthusiasm I have for walking shows no signs of diminishing as a hobby becomes a career…