2006 is drawing to a close and now is the time to reflect on the year that has passed. I rarely hear people talking about the highlights of their year being things that they have bought or money they've earnt; often it's experiences that money can't buy (such a cliche, I know!).
When I look back over the last year, memories flood back of time spent with my son, friends and family; places I've visited, new things I've discovered and memorable walks I've been on.
Here are my four favourite walks from 2006 (out of a total of almost 1,000 miles of walking this year!):
Winter 2006 - A walk from the Strines Inn across foggy Derwent Moor above the Derwent Reservoir and Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District. Visibility was poor along Derwent Edge but there was a Hoar Frost that had coated everything with the most wonderful icy patterns. And I didn't meet another soul all day...
Spring 2006 - March and April I spent researching, walking and writing my new Yorkshire Water Way book, and had three memorable days walking from Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales to Ilkley. The fell-tops were dusted with snow, the days were bright and crisp and the views were superb. The area around Scar House and Angram reservoirs in Upper Nidderdale makes for fantastic walking country with a sense of wilderness, whilst the reservoirs add interest. From the Summit of Great Whernside, I followed an old packhorse route down across the moors skirting Angram and Scar House (pictured) to reach Middlesmoor.
Summer 2006 - I spent most of the summer walking in the Peak District researching routes for my Walking Weekends Peak District book. I had many memroable times staying away in villages, most notably Hayfield, Eyam, Hartington, Longnor and Castleton. The most memorable time was during the long, hot summer days of July when I stayed at Wetton for 2 days and walked through the Manifold Valley and Dovedale. The pub at Wetton is superb, and the walking excellent...
Autumn 2006 - Some of the best walking can be found in the North York Moors. There are vast swathes of heather moorland, deep green valleys, lovely villages and cosy pubs. It is much quieter than other National Parks, all of which makes for some great walking. One of the best walks I did was on an unseasonally warm October day through Baysdale to the scant remains of Baysdale Abbey (actually a nunnery). The light was perfect with long shadows and an autumnal glow across the dying flowers of the heather.
Hopefully, 2007 will bring just as many experiences.