Another year over. 2021. It started with lockdown, home schooling, lots of snow, cross country skiing from the back door and lots of local walks, usually alone.
Lockdown lifted in late March and day walks with friends started again, initially to the North Pennines and then back to the Lakes. The weather was great for weeks on end and it was good to be back in the hills. In late April on a beautiful sunny day I climbed two small hills above Longsleddale and finally finished the Wainwrights after 40 years. A very low key event, just 2 of us and even Steve didn’t realise what was happening until we reached the top of the last one. Sorry Steve, I promise I’ll tell you in advance when I finish the Munros.
In late May I did my first backpack of the year and bivvied high above Eskdale near the summit of Scafell Pike. I had the summit to myself at 7am on a beautiful, sunny Bank Holiday Monday.
Later the same week I returned to Scotland and took my 10 year old daughter up Fiacaill Ridge in the Cairngorms. Or maybe she took me up, one of us was leading the way at high speed, the other lagged behind with a heavy rucksack……
Of course 2021 was the year I joined Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team as a trainee. Wednesday evenings and the odd Sunday have been spent learning about vehicles, equipment, radios, casualty care, rope work and navigation. It was a steep learning curve initially but after a few months I was enjoying it and crucially felt like I fitted in to the Team. I attended my first call out in November. At the start of July I helped to lead a group of Durham University students around the National 3 Peaks to fundraise for the Team. The weather could have been better but all of our group completed the challenge.
Back to Scotland in July, this time in a campervan to the far north west with my daughter, Hannah. We climbed the two most northerly Munros, Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck, with no view from either. We also had a trip to Handa island and a few coastal walks.
Then more day walks to the Lakes in sometimes very hot weather (who’d have thought it in England……)
In August I returned to Scotland, for a week of backpacking and a bit of rock climbing. The first trip was to the Cairngorms where I walked over Fiacaill Ridge and Ben Macdui to camp near the summit of Derry Cairngorm in a gale. The next day I returned via Beinn Mheadhoin and Bynack More in foul weather. This was followed by a day rock climbing on Savage Slit, a classic V Diff that I’d wanted to do for years. Finally, 4 days of backpacking alone round Loch Mullardoch, a truly awesome trip where I saw as many eagles as people and my tent had a real rain test and fortunately passed.
At the end of August I competed in my first mini mountain marathon for many years, 4 brutal hours of orienteering in the Howgills. To my delight I came 5th out of 70 odd women, not bad at age 48. I also did some proper ML work, leading groups on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and on Scafell Pike.
Then on 24th September 2021 Covid hit. I was very ill, despite being fully vaccinated and very fit. For the next 3 months my world ground to a halt. No running, no backpacking, very little walking, very little work and minimum Mountain Rescue training. The support of friends, family, clients and staff was amazing and still is. Thank you to everyone. Some people deserve a special mention. My brother Jim, sister-in-law Sarah and my mum. My friends, especially Steve, Toby, Ruth, Kirsty and John. My staff, especially Emma and Lisa. My clients, especially RT Community Projects, UTASS and Morrison Trust. My fellow Mountain Rescue trainees – Jodie, Miles, Josh, Russ and Dan. And finally, my daughter Hannah who makes me laugh, gives me a reason to keep going and looks after me more than any 10 year old should have to do.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m alive and I’m back in the hills. On 24th December I did my first run since Covid with no ill effects. Today I’ve done a day walk near High Cup Nick in rain and wind, again with no ill effects. I’m looking forward to 2022. Happy New Year.