UPDATE: Glorious summer weather all week – go on BBC admit it!
‘Snow this weekend’ she says as we sweep past each other on this morning’s dog walk. ‘Aye’ I responded not having a clue what she was talking about, surely it cannot be snowing at the end of May except possibly in the higher reaches of the mountains of Scotland. Maybe a drop will fall somewhere in England, maybe even a few hailstones in the night but not proper snow? However the dog walker’s throw away comment is just typical of how we think about our weather, a built in negativity (and obsession) which soon develops into a perceived picture of snow covered roads and freezing temperatures in peoples minds. The same thing happens with wet weather, a day’s rain and we are all talking about how we have never had it so bad.
Actually the weather has not been fairly standard so far this year and there have been some superb days to strap the boots on and stride out in to the countryside. Already this year I have met many people out and about who are having a highly enjoyable walk. It may be cold, they may have encountered a shower at some stage in the day but it has not affected and may even have increased their enjoyment. Our weather is, and always has been, varied, it’s often rained, it can be cold but as long as you are wearing the right kit it really does not matter. The feel good factor created by a bracing wind or squally shower should not be underestimated. There is no doubting the pleasures of taking a walk in hot, sunny conditions but you can soon end up dehydrated, fed up, grumpy and wishing for a nice cooling breeze.
And that is the rub. The entire country, inspired by our media, insist we are in the worst run of weather we have ever had and as a result it is only madmen who venture outside. It is not the worst run of weather and more importantly it does not matter even if it was. Walking is completely different to being sat on a beach. Weather on a walk creates a challenge and challenges overcome are a pleasure – my wife insists on retelling a story from her youth about the time when her family were walking the backside of Ullswater (a wonderful walk in reality) in wet conditions and how they all suffered but there is a smile on her face and I have never heard her tell of a pleasant short walk in the sun. One of my Top Tips of walking is that the weather is never as bad as it looks when you are in the house – just thinking about going out is often the worst part of a walk, once committed the day simply gets better and better. The other certainty is that you will feel a great sense of satisfaction once you have finished the walk than if you had just spent the day loafing around inside. If in doubt get a dog and then you will have to get out and walk it – the guilt would be too great!
One of my favourite memories was walking in the rain in Scotland near the Currour Bothy under Ben Alder. I was on the broad ridge to the north of the bothy, in what can only be termed as ‘poor’ conditions, when suddenly the rain stopped and the clouds began to part. High up on the ridge streaks of sunshine appeared and the views started to open up. Initially Loch Ossian and Currour Halt appeared below but soon the mountains near Fort William poked through the cloud. The Grey Corries, the Easains, the Mamores and even the Ben itself were stripped of cloud with the scene soon bathed in sunlight. I remember standing just looking for an age, just happy and privileged to be there.
I do blame the Met Office, the BBC and their never ending ‘Weather Warnings‘. They are undeniably negative about the weather and it creates enormous problems for holiday providers in our most beautiful holiday destinations. If it is raining in Cornwall they create a perception the whole country is under a cloud. Part of the problem is that they have to cover the country in one go so one drop of rain on an over sized cloud makes the map look bleak. There may only be an isolated shower in one small area of the country but that raindrop they put on the map appears to dominate a vast area. The fact that 99% of the time there will be no rain (and so what if there is) is almost completely ignored. Come on lads and lasses, let’s here some positivity, we are and never have been the Mediterranean.
Many a time I have headed out on a dodgy forecast and it has been beautiful. I do need some sun on a walk to get the best and most attractive photographs and it is extremely rare when it does not deliver. Pretty much every walk on the site that I have done over the last 3 years (over 300) has been at least part done in good weather. Now the maths will tell you that 300 walks in the sun over 3 years means that the weather cannot have been as catastrophically bad as portrayed by our esteemed media.
Hopefully the message is getting through, I read the other day that ‘staycations’ (horrible word) are predicted to grow this year and account for two thirds of all holidays; in addition I saw some numbers from Google on ‘searched words’ which suggested that Cumbria and Yorkshire are more likely destinations than the beaches of Cornwall and Devon. I hope so because the weather matters so much less when you are not going to lie on a beach or play in rock pools.
I have always said that Walking Holidays tick all the boxes in today’s world. It is clearly healthy, it encourages people to get out and respect the environment, it is cheap and most important the weather matters so much less. I receive a lot of feedback from people who take Walking Holidays with us and without exception they love it and want to do more. The weather has not affected them at all.
Cool and sunny this week – what’s wrong with that!
Planning a walk. Anyone can plan a good walk, no need to leave it to the experts
Risk & Reality. How a guide can balance the need of enjoyment with safety
The Joy of Maps. A look at what a map can show you about the land you are walking in
Please, some proper snow . Photos of proper snow conditions in the Dales
Christmas Gifts for walkers (not socks) . Mugs , photos and maps for sale
My favourite Walking Books . These are my choices but what are yours
Walking Challenges. Each person has there own walking challenges, here are mine
Volunteers run the show. How they help keep the National Parks alive and well
Hats & Cairns. The satisfactions of climbing a good sized hill
10 Dales Favourites. Some of the most popular walks in the Yorkshire Dales
10 Lakeland Classics. A list of my favourite 10 full day walks in the Lake District
Walking Holidays. Choose a walking holiday in the Lakes or the Dales, many choices.
Buses & Trains . Save on cost and hassle by looking at the Buses and Train options
Why go walking? Many good reasons to get off your backside and get out and about
Fell Top Assessors. What do they do and how are they funded
Windfarms – simply no need. As wind farms continue to be built why are we doing it?
Inspired by Autumn Watch? Some photography of animals in the countryside and the pleasures of limestone walking
Extending the National Parks. Views and news on the decision to extend the national parks of the Lakes & Dales
Using a map to navigate. Why using a map and compass adds so much to a good walk.
Walks for the family. How to educate your children to enjoy the great outdoors.
Away from the Crowds. Some tips and suggestions on where to still find peace and solitude when many walks are crowded out.
My favourite villages in the Dales. The villages in the Yorkshire Dales which are extra special.
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