About Me

My own love of walking came from the cradle. Family holidays were always spent in the Lake District (Threlkeld to be precise) and climbing the fells was a major part of any holiday.

I have since completed the Munros (and Tops) in Scotland, trained and completed a Mountain Leader course and enjoyed walking and climbing across Britain, in Europe, and beyond.

My regular walk in Long Preston

In 1999 we moved to Long Preston in the Yorkshire Dales and came to love the more genteel, rolling moors and dales. My passion become a business in 2010 and I set up Where2walk. I now run Navigation Courses, act as a Mountain Guide and organize Self Guided holidays across Yorkshire and the Lakes.

To find out a little more about me from an outsider look at this article in The Guardian. Arsene Wenger…really?

My Walking Background

My mum was evacuated to Keswick during the war and fell in love with the place. Her and her sister had some great stories of their days climbing Skiddaw, sledging on to a frozen Derwentwater and enjoying the town. Although she returned to her home in Newcastle to marry my dad (a stoic Yorkshireman, despite being born In Liverpool?) the love for the Lakes remained with her.

Blease Garth, Threlkeld

Early Days

My dad ended up buying a small cottage in the village of Threlkeld (best decision he ever made, it was toss up between that and a caravan in Ambleside) and that was that. Nearly every holiday in my childhood was spent on the slopes of Blencathra. Despite selling the cottage recently the mountain remains my favourite. I climb it at least once a year.

Walking with my dad

My Dad in Threlkeld, 1978?

My introduction to the mountains of the Lake District could be described as tough. Whingeing and complaining on any walk was simply not tolerated. Once the mountain objective was identified that is where we went, whatever the weather. There are endless stories in family legend of some brutal climbs. However these are two of my favourites. One was leaving my cousin half way up Great Gable (she sat down and said she was going no further) and secondly making my brother descend many hundreds of feet (also on Great Gable) to pick up his ruck sack he had dropped whilst having a sandwich.

Some of my early walks I have detailed in a blog I wrote a few years ago. Times were different, as was the kit and understanding the dangers but I learnt a lot. I learnt that the outdoors was not to be feared, I learnt a sense of direction and route finding and I learnt that a long day out was incredibly satisfying.

Living in London

Seathwaite 1990

In my early 20s I left Newcastle to pursue a career in the travel industry. 4 years at Thomson Holidays in London was enough for me to decide I needed to go and live in the north. I loved my time there but I missed a country escape at the weekends. Trying to climb the Scottish Munros from London was not easy so I found a new job in Lancashire.

The Munros

My late 20s and 30s were the Munro years, the 283 mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet. If you would like to read about the Munros and its unique challenge follow this link where I tell my story. Nothing has given me so much satisfaction. I learnt so much in climbing the Munros (and Tops). More than anything the adventure, remoteness and exploration gave me a confidence in the outdoors which I find so important in enjoying walking to the full.

Heading in to the Fisherfield 1991

By the time I had finished the Munros (on my 40th birthday) I was settled in the Yorkshire Dales with wife Helen and two young girls, Charlotte and Lucy. I was working in the UK cottage rental business by then at Earby in Lancashire. After 10 years I went on to run Dales Holiday Cottages in Skipton for 3 years before it was bought out and closed down. Now what?

Setting up Where2walk

At age 45 I decided to follow my dream and set up Where2walk. A few years before I had attained my Mountain Leader qualification .This is recognized to be the best qualification for anyone working in the outdoors, taking groups in the mountains or for offering training courses. I hoped to combine my lifelong passion for walking with a career spent in marketing to create something I would enjoy. However I also had to earn a living. I am still here 10 years later.

After a good day on Ingleborough

Voluntary Work

In addition to all the stuff I do for Where2walk which is described around the website I have also taken on a number of voluntary projects. In the Lake District I am one of the 5 National Park navigation trainers. Not only is it very enjoyable but also keeps me on top of the latest navigation advice and policy. In the Dales I have sat on a variety of tourist forums, been the tourism representative on the latest YD National Park Management Plan and was a member of the Local Access Forum.

Unfortunately walking continues to be badly undervalued in the Dales.

My Walking Philosophy

There is no doubt I have quite a relaxed style whilst guiding or training which goes against the grain in this increasingly bureaucratic and safety conscious world. Someone once told me that the outdoors was not a playground, I hasten to disagree. That is the point, it is.

Summit of Toubkal, Morocco

My 10 walking beliefs

  • Walking in the outdoors is to be enjoyed.
  • Always look for new walks and routes even if they are in an area you are familiar with.
  • Learn to navigate using a map and compass. Feel free to use a gps but it will never be as satisfying.
  • Plan a walk before you head off but be flexible when on the walk.
  • Push yourself whilst walking and take a risk or two. The most memorable days are usually the most difficult.
  • Choose gear that is comfortable and take out what you want. Don’t feel guilty if you do not ‘conform’.
  • Dogs are an asset on a walk. Keep them under control (on or off a lead)
  • Learn the name of mountains, flowers, birds etc that you may see on the walk.
  • I enjoy seeing families on walks, the children will then enjoy the outdoors in their own good time.
  • Walking on your own is great. You feel more alive making your own decisions.
Faithful Companion, Mist

Despite what you read in the press or on social media the vast majority of walkers are good people behaving well, same with landowners.

I intend to carry on walking for many years to come (health permitting). There is much to explore and places to visit. Next is Wales.

Jonathan

PS: My other great love (aside from the family!) is Newcastle United and that causes me so much more grief than walking!