Sunday, 4 February 2018

Out of the Dark Season & Onwards!

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70
is my new toy for 2018!
Another Dark Season is traversed, as Imbolc passes and Superbowl weekend arrives, and I mark this by taking an 11 day break from work in order to visit both My Parents and My Sister & her family, and to get the 2018 walking season underway, grateful that the days have finally lengthened so that the perpetual night can recede away for another nine months. Not gonna lie, this has been another tough one, as despite promises to have two months of sociability, I have mostly hibernated, only getting out for the seasonal festivities, and not even getting that much rest as I did as little as possible. Altogether a quarter-year to forget, with 43 feeling like the age when middle aged feelings started to outweigh those of lingering youth, but one not without its positives, the festive portion having been entirely acceptable as a social venture, and it got me gifts that finally allow me to get my new toy up and running, with memory cards, batteries and a new carry case for my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 camera coming my way courtesy of My Sister so that my old Fuji Finepix E-900 can finally be retired. It feels like a really snazzy camera on first impressions, but it's probably a price range equivalent a decade or so newer, but having a memory capacity for 5,000 pictures, with the smallest possible memory card, and the ability to do HD video and image retouching makes it feel so much better, but I worry is it as sturdy as the old one, as it feels like it won't survive as many trips to the ground as the old one did. Still, it's something new to adapt to as another season of out of doors exploits comes around, my seventh, and it starts to feel like this might be the make or break season for me, as like many great TV series' or the concept of marriage, seven years feels like as far as you can go before you run the risk of things starting to feel stale and repetitious, or having routine and ennui starting to overtake your life.

So where do we look as the ticker starts up again, on the road to 5,000 miles before I'm 50? The feeling is, as always, that what I plan now always ends up bending out of shape and the end of season summary barely resembles the one that I initially laid down, so I first look back to 2017's list and consider what I failed to do Last Year:
  • Early season plans are to stick to City Walking, as Leeds still has many passages that are untraced, especially in the south-west and north-east, all looking good to get my new intermediate boots road tested.
  • Early spring is the time to start to probe up the valleys of the Aire and Wharfe again, taking in sites not seen since 2013, and those revealed anew more recently.
  • Feel hopeful that a Spring break away with My Parents might still be possible, even if it's somewhere not too far away from their home, like South Derbyshire, which would be entirely dependant on My Dad's physical and mental condition.
  • Use the months of high Spring and Summer to probe the Gritstone moors between the Aire, the Wharfe and the Nidd, and the limestone country betwixt the Wharfe, the Aire and the Ribble, as distant and complex terrains, and potentially expensive journeys, should not induce fears anymore.
  • If getting away with the folks becomes implausible, I can look to filling three weeks of Spring and Summer breaks with 100 miles of the Leicestershire Round in order to fulfil my long distance trail fix.
  • Get over to Lancashire to walk with My Sister and her family, more than once and finally, finally take the Witton Weavers Way off the to do list.
  • Aim at a big hill or two, especially as there are two 700m+ summits at the upper end of Wharfedale that have so far avoided my attention.
  • Target a walk in a county unseen so far, like Cheshire, the only one in the north left to visit, and its most notable railway path.
  • Use the late season to stitch more disparate areas together, like attaching the City of Bradford to the districts of Calderdale and Kirklees.
  • Try to be sociable, offer my company to friends who want to walk the trails, and otherwise take time to eat and drink with them.
  • Note the passage of two more 3,000 mile markers before the year is done, and consider the goal of 500+ miles per year as an aspiration rather than a target, as I have no good reason to try to break myself as I get older. 
No real shocks there, so I'll probably be burning my way over the Lancashire moors to the Valleys of the East Lancs Colne and Calder before the year is done if we go by previous form on the trails, and I don't go into 2018's season with particularly high hope, a lot like I do for the year as a whole, so who knows, maybe it might go on to surprise as all. Wind the counters, anyway, as we are done with the Dark Season and are officially Back in Business!

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3108.5 miles
2017 Total: 543.5 miles
Up Country Total: 2832.9 miles
Solo Total: 2852.2 miles

Next Up: Put on Your New Boots, and Get Out in The City!

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